Trans Prisoners

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Conference
2016 National LGBT Conference
Date
29 July 2016
Decision

That this Conference will be aware of the tragic deaths in custody last year of trans women being held in male prisons.

“Vikki Thompson who was aged 21 at the time of her death was being held at Armley jail, a category B men’s prison, and had told friends she would kill herself, if she was sent to a male prison. Vikki Thompson had identified as female since her mid-teens. Two weeks after her suicide, Joanne Latham, another trans woman, took her own life, while being held in a centre designed to hold some of the most dangerous men in the country.

Current transgender prison rules state that prisoners should be placed according to their gender ‘as recognised by UK law’, usually as stated on their birth certificate, so unless inmates have obtained a gender recognition certificate they are often held in prisons that do not match up with their gender identity.

A United Nations report dating way back to 2001 found that trans prisoners, especially ‘male to female’ inmates, were at great risk of physical and sexual abuse by prison guards and fellow prisoners, if placed in men’s prisons.

The United Kingdom Government announced in 2015 it is re-examining its policy on transgender prisoners following these deaths. Whilst this move is welcome, we cannot allow this to lag it already comes too late for Vikki and Joanne; there may be others that we have not heard of. Amazingly, there is no record kept regarding the number of transgender prisoners.

Conference calls on the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender committee to keep up the pressure by:

1. Support discussion by the Trades Union Congress with court and criminal justice services to provide guidance on best practice including recording the number of transgender prisoners;

2. To liaise with other unions to develop a good practice guide for social workers, prison staff and support workers;

3. To support the inclusion of a risk assessment guidance so that in future such tragedies are avoided and that no trans person suffers the indignity and injustice of current practices.