High Court rules transgender women CAN go into female prisons

High Court rules transgender women CAN go into female prisons
High Court rules transgender women CAN go into female prisons

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, said the trans woman's offending history was a factor that the existing policies were required to consider

Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, said the trans woman's offending history was a factor that the existing policies were required to consider

The Government's policy of housing transgender women in female prisons is lawful, the High Court ruled today - despite claims from an inmate it raised the risk of sex attacks.

A female prisoner, known only as FDJ, brought a legal challenge against a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) policy which allows prisoners to be housed according to their gender identity 'irrespective of whether they have taken any legal or medical steps to acquire that gender'.

At a High Court hearing in March, lawyers for FDJ argued that accommodating transgender women in the female prison estate 'exposes female prisoners to a risk of sexual assault that would not arise absent that allocation'.

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They argued this was discrimination against cisgender women as that risk did not exist when transgender men are placed in men's prisons.

However, the MoJ argued the policy pursued a legitimate aim, including 'facilitating the rights of transgender people to live in and as their acquired gender (and) protecting transgender people's mental and physical health'.

In today's ruling, two High Court judges rejected FDJ's claim and upheld the MoJ's policies as lawful.

Lord Justice Holroyde said: 'It is not possible to argue that the defendant should have excluded from women's prisons all transgender women.

'To do so would be to ignore, impermissibly, the rights of transgender women to live in their chosen gender.'

FDJ had not asked for all transgender women to be excluded from female prisons, but instead challenged policies as to how trans women who have been convicted of sexual or violent offences against women were housed.

However, Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Swift, said the trans woman's offending history was a factor that the existing policies were required to consider.

'The need to assess and manage all risks is repeatedly emphasised' throughout the policies, he said.

The judge said that a transgender woman, whether or not she has changed her legal gender with a gender recognition certificate (GRC), who is deemed suitable to live in the general population may be subject to restrictions.

He continued: 'In an exceptional case, a high-risk transgender woman, even with a GRC, can be transferred to the male estate because of the higher level of security which is there available.'

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The court also heard expert panels were also involved in the process when allocating transgender

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