Almost 100,000 people have signed a petition calling for transgender woman Tara Hudson to be moved from an all-male prison in Bristol.
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Makeup artist Hudson, who has lived as a woman for her entire adult life and undergone six years of gender reconstruction surgery, was given a 12-week sentence after pleading guilty to assault on Oct. 23. The 26-year-old has been sent to serve her sentence at the all-male HM Prison Bristol.
According to the Change.org petition, Hudson’s passport states she is male but her doctor has medically declared her to be a woman.
To date 96,800 people have signed the petition, which was started by the Bath Gender Equality Network.
“In an era of unprecedented victories for LGBT rights, people like Tara Hudson are still paying a high price at the hands of an outdated and outmoded judicial system, simply for being who they are,” states the petition. “We call upon Bath magistrates and the British judicial system as a whole, to immediately address the dangers Ms Hudson is facing, and amend her sentence that she may spend it in an all woman’s prison instead.”
The petition has the full support of Hudson’s mother Jackie Brooklyn, who has shared her concerns about her daughter’s incarceration at an all-male prison.
“I don’t think she’ll cope with it very well. She’s lived as a woman for so long. She is a woman,” Ms. Brooklyn told the BBC. “To be put into an all male prison, it’s like me being put into a male prison.”
“It is longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognised gender,” said a Prison Service spokesperson. “However, our guidelines allow room for discretion, and in such cases medical experts will review the circumstances in order to protect the emotional well-being of the person concerned.”
A 2007 study carried out by the University of California, Irvine, said transgender women in male prisons are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than in the general population, with 59 percent reporting sexual assaults. When HM Inspectorate of Prisons carried out its most recent inspection of HMP Bristol in late 2014 it said levels of violence had “risen sharply” since its visit in 2013 and “were now considerably higher than in similar prisons.”
“The decision to put Tara in an all-male prison, despite her identifying as female, is extremely concerning,” said Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall. “Tara’s safety must come first, and this decision puts her at risk. The treatment of trans people in the prison service is one that needs careful review, and while it’s encouraging that the current Women and Equalities Select Committee inquiry is looking into this, something must be done now to ensure that Tara is safe and protected in her environment.”