A new policy regarding transgender prisoners Monday came into force in the UK. Transgender women who have “male genitalia,” as determined by the government, or have committed sex crimes or violent crimes, will not be held in female prisons regardless of their Gender Recognition Certificate. The policy comes after the UK government blocked Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill in January.Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab commented that “safety has to come first in our prisons.” The UK government hope that these new measures will increase the safety of women and “prisoners across England and Wales.” However, according to data from the Ministry of Justice, there were only 230 transgender people incarcerated in England and Wales out of a total 78,058 incarcerated persons in 2022, and only six transgender women were held in “female establishments.”Discussions to create a new framework for transgender prisoners have continued since previous changes to policy in 2019. In October 2022, former Secretary of State for Justice Brandon Lewis said, “transgender prisoners with male genitalia should no longer be held in the general women’s estate” however, he mentioned that the policy should not be a “blanket rule.” Exemptions to the measures will only be made in exceptional cases, and require express approval of ministers in order to be passed. Furthermore, transgender women who cannot be held safely in male prisons will now be imprisoned in specialist units.
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