Segregation for Trans Women? Give Us A (Jail)Break!
You don’t have to have been there to know that in prison bad things happen to the most vulnerable people. Just look at any depiction in film or TV, for example: Oz, Prisoner Cell Block H, The Shawshank Redemption and you can see the brutal truth of life behind bars.
So was it really that shocking to hear that an inmate at a UK prison had been convicted of assaulting two fellow inmates? Shocking enough to make it national news across the broadsheets? Well apparently on this occasion it was, as the perpetrator was Karen Hill (formerly Steven Wood) a transgender woman who was serving her sentence in a women’s prison.
That she is transgender shouldn’t suddenly propel this to the front pages, just as it doesn’t excuse her crimes. There is no doubt that Hill is a heinous criminal who has left a trail of victims behind her and thoroughly deserves the life sentence that was recently handed down.
However the real reason for the media interest in the case is that the anti-trans lobby sense an opportunity. They believe that this gives them justification to push for segregated prisons for transgender inmates or at the very least segregated wings within existing prisons.
In essence they are pushing for the transgender prison population to be treated like sex offenders, marked out as different and put in special units. Last weeks Sunday Times quoted Nicola Williams, of Fair Play For Women as saying: “It’s an admission that allowing males to self-identify as women and letting them into women’s spaces is dangerous.”
Statements like this demand a clear response from society on how we view the transgender population. We either consider them to be fully functioning men and women accepted as part of their community (unless of course the prefer not to identify as either CIS normative gender) or we treat them as something ‘other’.
This push to associate a persons gender with their sexual organs and the subsequent segregation of them in the prison population is just the thin end of the wedge. If we allow it to happen there, then what is there to prevent it creeping into our schools, hospitals and public spaces - creating an excluded underclass.
We know that within the prison system bad things happen to vulnerable people, we just don’t expect the prison system itself to target them.
Do you agree or disagree with this article? Leave a comment below and let’s start the discussion.