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Transgender politics — like any politics — can be divisive.
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Yet in the case of Karen Whitewho is legally still a man but was put in a female-only prison, both sides of the transgender rights debate are united in the belief mistakes were made. White entered the UK prison system as transgender.
However, despite dressing as a woman, the year-old had not undergone any surgery and was still legally a male. She was also a convicted paedophile and on remand for grievous bodily harm, burglary, multiple rapes and other sexual offences against women. During a three-month period at the female prison she sexually assaulted two other inmates.
The Ministry of Justice has since apologised for the placement. Jenny-Anne Bishop, from the transgender rights group Transforumsaid a local transgender case board made up of prison managers and psychologists decides where to place prisoners such as White within three days of a prisoner being taken into custody.
The board allows the prisoner to make representations, and considers any risks and whether the individual has been living in the gender with which they identify. Bishop says the board should have taken into all offending history but failed to do so.
She insisted people referred to her in her acquired gender without trying terribly hard to present as a woman.
She was a person who would not compromise. Bishop said that over the years she had met thousands of trans people but White stood out.
Other members of the community said she had a very short temper. Before entering the prison system White was living in a social housing complex in the village of Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire. ly known as David Thompson, within a fortnight of moving in she had asked to be known as Karen White.
Residents said over a three-year period she presided over a reign of terror, physically and verbally abusing others, with some residents having to move away. All wanted to remain anonymous, for fear of reprisals. She said White was controlling and threatened to report many for hate crimes.
Karen white: how 'manipulative' transgender inmate attacked again
And then she started getting violent — it was a terrifying time for all of us — we wish she had never been placed sex. The final straw came when White repeatedly stabbed an elderly male resident in his own home, claiming the pensioner had sexually assaulted her. I still feel scared in my own home. Born in July as Stephen Terence Wood, the former Manchester drag artist was convicted in on two charges of indecent assault and gross indecency with of primary school age, and jailed for 18 months.
ly, prisoners requiring such treatment would have needed a Gender Recognition Certificate GRC or to have had a woman diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
For sex prisoners, a gender recognition certificate GRC would normally be necessary before a person could be placed in a prison corresponding to their acquired gender. The service had initiated a whitewood of the issue early in The government published a report on Noms' policy review in November which acknowledged that the treatment of transgender people in the criminal justice system had not kept want with wider social views.
While the guidelines had emphasised the role of GRCs and medical interventions, the report noted that many transgender people successfully lived their lives woman these. Such prisoners must be asked their view of the part of the prison estate that reflects this; however a decision to locate them in a prison which does not accord with their legal gender can only be made following a transgender case board.
Those who wish to be placed in a prison location which is not consistent with their legally recognised gender must provide evidence of living in the gender with which they identify. Assessments will be made on a case by case basis. A government survey has counted transgender prisoners in England and Wales, which is likely to be an underestimate.
According to MoJ figures released in response to a freedom of information request by the BBC, 60 of them have been convicted of one or more sexual offences. Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said grave mistakes were made in the White case and the safety of vulnerable women should be paramount.
There may be a case for having separate provision; that is a debate to be had.
The government is currently carrying out a consultation about reforming the Gender Recognition Act. No system is perfect. This article is more than 2 years old. Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent. Thu 11 Oct Transgender prisoner who sexually assaulted inmates jailed for life.
. Quick Guide What are the prison guidelines for transgender prisoners?
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Show What did the old guidelines say? Why did they change? What the change meant The government published a report on Noms' policy review in November which acknowledged that the treatment of transgender people in the criminal justice system had not kept pace with wider social views.
Sexual assaults in women's prison reignite debate over transgender inmates. Reuse this content.