A Literature Review of Transgender People in Prison: An ‘invisible’ population in England and Wales

Gorden, Caroline, Hughes, Caroline, Astbury-Ward, Edna M and Dubberley, Sarah (2017) A Literature Review of Transgender People in Prison: An ‘invisible’ population in England and Wales. Prison Service Journal (233). pp. 11-22.

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The last few decades have witnessed a growth in advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, and that this activism for equality is now increasingly visible within the Criminal Justice System.1 The Ministry of Justice report The Care and Management of Transsexual Prisoners PSI 07/2011 provides guidelines about the duties and responsibilities that prisons must comply with in ensuring that all transsexual people are treated fairly and in accordance with the law. However, two high profile cases highlighted issues of inequality for transgender people in the secure estate. In late 2015, Vikki Thompson and Joanne Latham, two transgender women placed in male prisons in England, committed suicide in their prison cells within weeks of each other. While it is understood that Joanne Latham had not requested a transfer to a women’s prison, it is reported that Vikki Thompson said she would kill herself if placed in a male prison.2 Following their deaths, it was announced that a review into the care and management of transgender people in prisons would be undertaken in light of a number of concerns that the current system does not adequately address their specific needs. In addition, the Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage indicated that the review extend to transgender people being managed in the community.3 The review was published in November 2016 that aimed to ensure that the care and management of transgender people in prison was ‘fit for purpose and provides an appropriate balance between the needs of the individual and the responsibility to manage risk and safeguard the wellbeing of all prisoners’.4 According to Caroline Dinenage, there are approximately 80 transgender people in prison in England and Wales and although the exact number is unknown, she estimates that the population is increasing. Referring to prisons in the USA, Simopoulos and Khin Khin5 argue that the true estimate of transgender people may be unknown because people in prison are reluctant to disclose their gender identity for fear of transphobia and abuse. However, the recently published review indicated that there will be a data collection exercise across the prison estate (that has already been commissioned) and there will be a new equality information form that among other equality questions, will be a question on gender identity.6 The experience of transgender people in prison is an under-researched area generally but particularly in the UK. The majority of research about transgender people who offend has been undertaken in the USA. This is despite existing research (discussed in this literature review) indicating that transgender people in prison are significantly more likely to experience more problems than other prison populations.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Social and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Hayley Dennis
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2018 12:18
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2019 08:27
URI: https://glyndwr.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17264

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