Some Trans Prisoners “Switch Gender,” Go Back to Male Identity After Placement in Women’s Prisons, Study Says

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A study published in a British crime journal states that some female prisoners have raised concerns that not all of the trans inmates being placed in Scotland’s women’s prisons are sincere in their gender identity and that several have gone back to living as men once they’re released.

This comes as Scottish lawmakers work towards legislation meant to accommodate transgender identity.

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Criminology, raises concerns fresh concerns over gender self-identification not long after author J.K. Rowling ignited a firestorm when she compared Scottish police policy allowing sexual assault suspects to identify as female to George Orwell’s 1984.

While The Times of London notes that there are only over a dozen transgender inmates in the Scottish prison system, several female inmates the study authors spoke with reported that transgender inmates they’d been housed with went back to living as men once they were back on the streets.

Echoing concerns cited by British and American advocacy groups for female prisoners, one inmate suggested that “the transitions of transgender people might be an attempt by paedophiles or other sex offenders to access cis-women in the female prison estate.”

Another said she’d known a transgender inmate who wore a beard and “she didn’t even try” to “cover up her ‘down belows.’”

“I’ve not a problem living with trans people; it’s living with people who are manipulating the system and pretending to be trans,” another said after noting she knew one inmate who “was telling people, I’m stopping taking my medication because I can’t [become erect].”

Some of the inmates speculated that trans inmates who seek placements in transgender prisons are not always necessarily predatory but simply seeking easier accommodations.

“While some believed prisoners born male had switched for sexual opportunities, there was also a view that some had abused the system to get an easier time in jail,” the Times notes.

Marion Calder of the organization For Women Scotland accuses the Scottish government of repeatedly saying “it will uphold the rights and protections that women currently have to single-sex spaces under the Equality Act” only to demonstrate “quite clearly that in practice it is busy undermining them in the most egregious way.”

“It is a cruel and unusual punishment when failing to pay your TV licence can result in being forced to share a shower with a male sex offender,r” she noted. “Single-sex prisons need to be reinstated immediately; the prison service has already shown it is capable of safely housing men, however they identify, in the male estate.”

Out of Scotland’s prison population of 7,435, just 239 are listed as women. 15 are transgender; 12 male-to-female and 2 female-to-male.

“It is understood that all are currently held in female units as previous experience of trans men in the male estate had caused tensions,” the Times notes.

A spokesperson for Scotland’s prisons told the Times that transgender inmates who seek placement in women’s prisons are carefully assessed and that such placement is not on-demand.

In California, similar concerns have been raised following the implementation of legislation making it easier for transgender inmates to be housed according to their gender identity.

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