Following an increase in focus on British transgender women being held in male facilities Labour MP and Shadow Minister For Women Cat Smith has made changing the treatment of transgender prisoners a mission.
She spoke in parliament this week, saying that since taking up the issue of the Ministry of Justice treatment of transgender prisoners she has personally received several letters from transgender prisoners, and the content in them has been deeply troubling.
Ms Smith said that she was 'alarmed' to read about one prisoner, who has been denied access to her hormone replacement therapy treatment, as well as gender realignment surgeries. The prisoner, who has not been named, also claimed to have been raped twice and sexually assaulted whilst serving her sentence in an all male prison facility.
The prisoner in question began transitioning in 2008, and has been undergoing treatment since then. Despite this, and having made the statutory declaration to live the rest of her life as female in 2012, she has been denied access to medical treatment by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). This is despite her being in the final stages of transition before she was sentenced.
Ms Smith read from the prisoners letter, telling parliament 'The governor has blocked all my letters to my surgeons, the prison have no right to strip me of my care or hormone treatment. There is no knowledge of how suicidal I am because they don't care what impact their choices have on me physically and psychologically.'
'I'm totally destroyed, not the woman I was. I feel I will kill myself soon. I cannot do this now. Will you please help me? I cannot take no more - I'm a woman in a male prison. This is not right.'
Ms Smith went on to outline some of the actions the prisoner had already taken in order to her herself and put her life at risk, due to the treatment that she has been receiving. The prisoner has 'injected bleach into her testicles' and even 'attempting self surgery to remove her scrotum'.
The National Offender Management Service told Ms Smith that have agreed that once the prisoner is released from custody that her supervision in the community will take place in female services, however, they do not plan to support her during her sentence.
Ms Smith criticised this response, as it offers no consistency. To treat a prisoner as male whilst they are serving their sentence, but then as female after is incredibly contradictory, but unfortunately seems to be common amongst the testimonies she has received in the letters sent to her.