Imagine a society in which a 26 year old transgender female, who has lived her whole entire life as a woman, and undergone 6 years of gender reconstructive surgery to finally feel emotionally content in her own skin, committed a minor crime, and was sent to one of the countries toughest prisons to serve her 12 week sentence. Sounds barbaric, doesn't it? Wouldn't happen in the UK? Well unfortunately that's not the case.
Tara Hudson, a 26-year old transgender woman from Bath, has lived as a woman for her whole adult life. Having undergone six years of gender reconstruction surgery, she is female. And a very pretty one at that. Yet Bath magistrates and the British judicial system think it's ok to send her to an all-male prison to serve her sentence. A prison where HM Inspectorate of Prisons, when they carried out an inspection last year, said levels of violence had risen since their last visit and "were now considerably higher than in similar prisons". The inspectors also reported that "not enough was being done to protect some vulnerable prisoners."
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of unprecedented victories for LGBT rights, people like Tara Hudson are still paying a high price at the hands of an outdated and outmoded judicial system, simply for being who they are. Campaigners are growing increasingly concerned for Tara's safety as she serves her sentence, with a petition on change.org gathering 31,000 signatures in just under 24 hours. Family, friend and campaigners are calling for 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.
Whilst she remains in male custody, Tara and her family believe that she is placed in extreme danger of abuse, sexual violence, emotional and physical assault, and even death, breaching her human rights and placing her at unnecessary risk.
Tara's situation is one which must be addressed immediately, and refer to the following focus points which mean she is at severe risk of both physical and mental harm:
• She has undergone 6 years of reconstructive surgery
• She has lived her entire adult life as a woman
• She has been medically declared a woman by her doctor
• She has received hormone treatment
• She has received treatment for depression
• She has utilised care services from a social worker
• She is being sent to one of the UK's toughest prisons, where there is a distinct lack of care for vulnerable inmates.
Trans campaigners estimate that there are between 20 and 30 trans individuals in UK prisons at any time, and that they are some of the most at-risk members of the incarceration system. In fact, 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, according to a frequently cited US study.
According to Amnesty International, globally, LGBT prisoners and those perceived to be LGBT, are at risk of torture, ill-treatment and violence from other inmates as well as prison officials.
Trans people are also at a much higher risk of mental health issues than the rest of the populace. In 2014, a survey found that 48% of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so. By comparison, about 6% of all 16- to 24-year-olds say they have attempted suicide, according to the Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey.
Campaigner highlighting the dangers Ms Hudson is facing, ask that her sentence is amended immediately, so that she may spend it in an all-woman's prison instead. To add your support to Tara's situation, please sign and share the petition below today.