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Ex prison chief expresses concern about trans women in female jails

(44 Posts)
stumbledin Fri 14-Feb-20 23:52:52

The former governor of Cornton Vale, Rhona Hotchkiss, says that in her experience it is "always an issue to have trans women in with female prisoners”.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-scotland-51452489/ex-prison-chief-expresses-concern-about-trans-women-in-female-jails

(Haven't had time to listen so dont know what she says, but didn't want to lose the link which someone posted on facebook.)

Oncewasblueandyellowtwo Sat 15-Feb-20 01:48:07

"My experience is, that it is always an issue to have trans women in with female prisoners, I think you have to think beyond the obvious things like physical or sexual threat, which are sometimes an issue, to the very fact of the presence of a male bodied person in amongst vulnerable women causes them distress and consternation."

That's what I took down.
Is there a longer interview?

Oncewasblueandyellowtwo Sat 15-Feb-20 01:49:22

Interesting that she said transwomen and female prisoners.

Gingerkittykat Sat 15-Feb-20 02:18:20

Stonewall will be along soon to tell vulnerable female prisoners, many who have already been the victims of male violence, to learn to get over their discomfort,

BoreOfWhabylon Sat 15-Feb-20 02:25:25

Rhona Hotchkiss won the internet recently with this takedown of a wokey blokey grin

magicrainbowbeans Sat 15-Feb-20 05:36:15

Bore I enjoyed reading that 😁

Cwenthryth Sat 15-Feb-20 06:35:45

Ha, go sister, 👊🏼 fantastic.

That clip is clearly part of a longer interview, she’s cut off mid sentence. Where’s the rest of it, she was making a very good point.

NeurotrashWarrior Sat 15-Feb-20 06:50:50

the very fact of the presence of a male bodied person in amongst vulnerable women causes them distress and consternation."

This is the biggest point that gets routinely missed in ALL debates, especially in the media. I didn't get this particular point until it was expressly spelt out on a Victoria Derbyshire episode. I've never seen it given precedence elsewhere, and if it is mentioned, racist analogies are given to refute it.

Great twitter chat bore!

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 15-Feb-20 07:59:44

I attended a talk by Rhona Hotchkiss where she mentioned about a female prisoner who had a troubled background and drug addiction, but did a great job of staying clean / sober for a number of years. She was also used as a mentor to other female prisoners in turning their lives around etc. It seemed she was on track to better things in life.......
And all of a sudden this woman fell back into her old habits...
When Rhona met her, she asked her why she slipped back when she was doing so well. Turns out this poor woman was made to share a cell / room with a transwoman prisoner. Some conflict or argument took place (I can't remember the details) and this transwoman became angry and aggressive and punched the wall in the cell. This immediately triggered a lot of old trauma in this poor woman and she ended up taking drugs again to cope with her issues.

It broke my heart and made me incredibly angry at the same time to hear her story. Women prisoners aren't at risk from just rape or assault when housed with males. Being around males and the threat of male aggression is enough to bring up PTSD in many of the women because of their vulnerable backgrounds. It's absolutely inhumane that women's suffering is ignored like this just so that some males can feel validated in their trans identity. I'm sick of this callous and misogynistic attitude by those who think there's nothing wrong with allowing males in female prisons.

LynnSchmob Sat 15-Feb-20 08:06:27

Jesus - they have women sharing cells with transwomen! I always assumed they would at least be in separate cells. What an utter nightmare.

midgebabe Sat 15-Feb-20 08:09:15

Ninny what an aweful thing to have happened. And so predictable.

ArabellaDoreenFig Sat 15-Feb-20 08:40:09

This is one of the reasons that it makes me so angry that people have so eagerly jumped on the trans women are the ‘most vulnerable and oppressed’ bandwagon - none of these banner waving morons gave/give a shit about the UK’s most vulnerable women.

AuntieRae Sat 15-Feb-20 08:53:45

I went to a talk in Edinburgh this month by two men from Scottish Prison Service, one was iirc Diversity & Inclusion officer at HMP Edinburgh. He spoke of their pride in supporting prisoners who are transitioning - I assume mtf as that's a male prison. He mentioned housing transgender prisoners in the prison estate according to their gender identity but at no point did he mention how this impacted the female prisoners. No discussion about what "transitioning" actually means so it all sounded very progressive and wonderful. I confess I was too much of a coward to question him but I wish I had now about the impact on female prisoners. Especially as their next meeting is on the impact of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act.

Datun Sat 15-Feb-20 08:56:48

the very fact of the presence of a male bodied person in amongst vulnerable women causes them distress and consternation."

Finally. It's astonishing and quite chilling how the women in any of these scenarios are overlooked. It's like the commenter can't actually drag their eyes off the trans person for even a nano second to focus on the woman.

Dr Who's perception filter comes to mind. The presence of an actual female just can't be recognised.

NeurotrashWarrior Sat 15-Feb-20 09:15:34

Cos they're brave and stunning int'it datun.

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 15-Feb-20 09:16:30

LynnSchmob I don't know how many transwomen are housed in female prisons especially if they have a GRC and are therefore legally female. (This is one of the reasons why I think the GRA is fundamentally incompatible with women's rights and should be repealed.)

I'm not clear on the system, but at the moment, they do evaluate transwomen prisoners, at least the ones without a GRC, but maybe they also include ones with a GRC. If they are extremely violent, or known for major crimes then they can be prevented from transfer to female prisons, otherwise they are allowed to be in the female estate. Even if they are not sharing accommodation, they will be able to access common areas. Transwomen prisoners don't have to be extremely dangerous criminals to exhibit low level male aggression and unpleasant behaviour, like the prisoner who threatened to rape the female prisoners and staff... I don't know if that lovely "lady" was moved out of the female estate or not. One would hope so.

BetsyM00 Sat 15-Feb-20 09:48:33

The longer interview with Rhona is still available here:
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p082x063

And there's also her talk from the For Women Scotland meeting in Edinburgh last month:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpfTBEXqGQM

PermanentTemporary Sat 15-Feb-20 10:27:00

I've also seen comments about transwomen who are accepted and living in the female estate without problems.

And I think,are they? Do you really think that women with a long long history of abusive and coercive relationships with men dont have any reaction to transwomen that can be negative for them? I would love to know more about those apparently successful transfers.

CharlieParley Sat 15-Feb-20 10:37:47

On the risk assessment Rhona pointed out that even a male prisoner who had committed serious sexual offences against female prisoners would be transferred to the female estate as long as the offending wasn't recent. She did not specify what recent means.

So, it's possible that a violent rapist who has been locked up in a male estate and who therefore hadn't offended against women recently for lack of opportunity would have a good chance to be transferred.

As for the GRC, the male prisoners in the female estate that Rhona is discussing do not have one. Because the Scottish Prison service adopted a trans inclusion policy some years ago that is based on self-id. Without ever once considering what impact this might have on women.

This is why by the way the Scottish Government keeps on reassuring us quite earnestly that GRA reform that brings in self-id will not change the rights of prisoners who identify as trans. This gives the impression that this is because they have such robust policies in place that women are protected. In truth GRA reform changes nothing because the Scottish Prison service already operates on a self-id basis for inclusion in the female estate.

That females who identify as trans would not be safe in the male estate is acknowledged without any fuss btw. The cognitive dissonance should be staggering, but apparently not. It's all perfectly logical.

Males who say they are women are women and therefore should be in with female prisoners. Females who say they are men are men but for some weird reason they should not be in with male prisoners. I cannot possibly imagine what that reason might be...

Anyway, there is supposed to be a review of the policy this year and thanks to the valiant efforts of grassroots groups like forwomen.scot and Women and Girls in Scotland there is a chance that the needs and rights of female prisoners may be considered at long last. And someone as credible and as important as Rhona speaking out now gives these women a real chance of having their human rights upheld.

Datun Sat 15-Feb-20 11:11:52

So, it's possible that a violent rapist who has been locked up in a male estate and who therefore hadn't offended against women recently for lack of opportunity would have a good chance to be transferred.

It's difficult to believe how fucked-up this is.

Rapists are being given access to vulnerable women, who can't escape, as part of their sentence.

Datun Sat 15-Feb-20 11:12:32

And likewise, women are being forced to share cells with violent rapists, as part of their sentence.

ScrimshawTheSecond Sat 15-Feb-20 11:15:53

Thanks for posting the longer clip. It's an insane situation; I'm glad Rhona Hotchkiss is speaking up.

NonnyMouse1337 Sat 15-Feb-20 11:18:59

Some women prisoners might be ok with transwomen in the estate. Not everyone has to be necessarily opposed to it.

The problem is that it has the potential for causing psychological issues for some women, even if there's no violence or intimidation from the transwomen. The distress of women should never be ignored in favour of males.

I also learned from Rhona's talk that all prisoners have personal files and there are codes that are put on your file to help prison staff manage inmates.
For example, in a male prison, if you have a prisoner who is known to be a hardcore racist or part of some white supremacist gang, he will have a code in his file that is essentially a marker for 'racist'. So if there's a situation where staff are looking to house a black prisoner, they can check the files and know not to put the black prisoner in the same cell as the white supremacist guy. Makes sense in a way to avoid potential problems.

There's also a code for those who aren't happy to be housed with trans inmates.
This has the unintended effect of some female prisoners saying they are fine sharing with trans people because they don't want to get this code put on their file that effectively labels them as a 'transphobe'. Women in prison are just as susceptible as any other women in the whole kindness malarky. They want to be seen as nice and accepting and not be labelled as a transphobe by their fellow inmates or staff. So they are less likely to express their wish to not be housed with a transwoman.

ScrimshawTheSecond Sat 15-Feb-20 12:23:19

Hm. I used to work somewhere where we had a similar system of marking certain clients who were not to be in contact with female staff. Because of previous violence/abuse/stalking/threats.

Fieldofgreycorn Sat 15-Feb-20 12:32:59

Transwomen prisoners don't have to be extremely dangerous criminals to exhibit low level male aggression and unpleasant behaviour,

Let’s keep out the violent abusive TW sure.

There are plenty of female women in prisons exhibiting more than just ‘low level’ aggression and unpleasant behaviour to vulnerable women.

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