In the latest in a long line of prison authorities punishing transgender women by forcing them to serve jail terms in all male prisons, Tara Hudson of Bath has been sent to Bristol Prison for six years.
Hudson has been living as a woman full time for six years, but because she doesn’t have a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), the judge has ruled in line with current policy that she must serve her jail sentence in an all-male prison.
It’s long been noted by campaigners that GRCs can be costly. They also require a large burden of proof and paperwork, which can itself be a demeaning and exhausting process for someone who is transitioning.
Without the GRC, the Prison Service treat inmates by their “legally recognised gender”, and place them accordingly.
Although Hudson has been living as a woman for over 5 years, she is still considered to be legally male, a decision that campaigners say could endanger her. Transgender women who are sent to all male prisons are at risk of physical and sexual abuse, and can become a target immediately.
The prison service says that “there are strict rules in place to ensure transsexual prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.”
It might be noted that their use of the word ‘transsexual’ itself denotes an outdated and potentially dangerous attitude towards people who have transitioned. Her mother agrees, telling the Bath Chronicle: “We think it’s totally outrageous. I don’t think she will cope well at all. I just feel the men are going to go after her. It’s going to be humiliating.”
“I just want to get my daughter into a safe, female environment where she belongs and will continue to fight the decision.”
A petition (http://chn.ge/208ik94) has been launched on Change.org, encouraging people to sign it so that she can be transferred to a female prison. Sophie Tyler who launched the petition says of Tara: “She has already received treatment for depression and has experienced abuse because of her gender identity. Her life is in danger – sign this petition to get her transferred to a female prison.”