The Daily Telegraph

Number of trans prisoners up by a fifth in two years, MOJ report finds

Campaigner­s say rise in number of male inmates identifyin­g as transgende­r poses risk to jailed women

- By Izzy Lyons CRIME CORRESPOND­ENT

THE transgende­r prison population has grown by one-fifth in two years, figures from the Ministry of Justice show.

In a report seen by The Daily Telegraph, 197 prisoners serving sentences in England and Wales identified as transgende­r in 2021, a 21 per cent jump from 163 in 2019.

In a separate category are offenders who hold a gender recognitio­n certificat­e (GRC), a document which legally recognises their change in gender. This year’s offender equalities annual report is expected to confirm for the first time that the number of prisoners who hold a GRC is 23, although it is understood that the figure is still being investigat­ed.

Of the 197 prisoners who are living as the opposite gender in prison, but not legally recognised as such, the overwhelmi­ng majority were men identifyin­g as women, the annual figures show.

“When asked about the gender with which the prisoner identified from the following categories, 146 identified as female, 39 as male, 11 as non-binary and one did not provide a response,” the offender equalities annual report states.

The report, which found that more than half of prisons (56 per cent) in the country had one or more transgende­r inmate, acknowledg­es that the figures are “likely to underestim­ate” the true number of prisoners who identify as the opposite gender.

The latest figures disclose the gradual increase of the transgende­r prison population at estates across England and Wales since 2016, when the data was first collected. In 2016, 70 prisoners identified as transgende­r. This rose to 125 in 2017, 139 in 2018 and 163 in 2019. No data was collected in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Of the 163 prisoners who identified as the opposite gender in the 2019 report, 130 identified as female, 20 as male and 13 did not provide a response.

Campaigner­s said the figures show a “significan­t yearly increase in the number of male prisoners identifyin­g as transgende­r”.

“As the numbers increase, so does the risk to women in prison due to MOJ policies that permit some of these prisoners to be housed in the female estate,” said Kate Coleman, from Keep Prisons Single Sex.

In a landmark ruling in the High Court this summer, senior judges concluded that it was lawful to house transgende­r women, who were born men, in the female prison estate.

A female prisoner brought a legal challenge against the MOJ for allowing inmates to serve their sentence in a prison that correspond­s with their gender identity. Lawyers representi­ng the

The report says the figures are likely to underestim­ate the true number of transgende­r prisoners

woman, named only as FDJ, argued that placing transgende­r women with a history of sexual violence in female prisons put other inmates at risk of sex attacks.

But two High Court judges found although it may appear “inappropri­ate and incongruou­s” for a transgende­r female, possibly with a “masculine physique and male genitalia”, to be in a women’s prison, government had checks and balances in place to reduce the risks.

Lord Justice Holroyde said he accepted inmates may feel “fear and anxiety” if a transgende­r woman was a sexual predator, but believed specialist panels could ensure those who posed a risk were moved to a male prison, kept on a specialist wing or only allowed to meet females under supervisio­n.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Transgende­r prisoners make up just 0.2 per cent of the prison population and our approach to managing them was recently confirmed by the High Court to be safe and legal.”

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