Transgender woman held in UK men's prison raped twice and tried to castrate self
A transgender woman held in a UK men's prison feels "totally destroyed" and suicidal after being denied surgery to continue her transition, MPs have heard.
Labour's Cat Smith said she has been informed the inmate has been raped twice and sexually assaulted, with self-harm including an attempt to remove her scrotum and injecting bleach into her testicles.
The MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood explained the prisoner was in the final stages of reconstruction surgery to help her transition before entering custody, although the National Offender Management Service (Noms) refused her access to this and hormonal medication.
Ms Smith said the inmate successfully obtained a county court judgment in her favour in October, which stated the Ministry of Justice is responsible for providing access to private medication and treatment outside of prison.
But MPs were told this is a decision for the prison governor and the prisoner's contact with his office on December 10 revealed this has yet to be organised.
Ms Smith added the inmate is also being denied a move to a female prison.
She raised the case as she sought further details and timings on the Government's policy review of transgender prisoners and its intention to record and publish the number of transgender people behind bars.
Speaking during an adjournment debate, Ms Smith said of the unnamed inmate: "It's difficult to express how difficult this is making her life so I'll quote from the letter she sent to me: 'The governor's blocked all my medical letters to my surgeons. The prison has no right to strip me of my care and hormone treatment. This is killing me as I'm now in reversal.'
"For anyone who is unclear, the idea of reversal is if you're transitioning from male to female potentially growing a beard while living as a woman - which would be distressing for any prisoner, I suspect, in that situation.
"She's a very vulnerable prisoner with recorded serious attempts of self-harm and attempts at suicide."
Ms Smith said the prisoner began the transition process in 2008 and declared in 2012 her intention to live as a woman for the remainder of her life.
The MP explained: "Yet she tells me, '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'll kill myself soon. I cannot do this now, please will you help me'.
"During her time in custody in a male prison she has told me she was raped twice and sexually assaulted.
"She told me: 'I cannot take no more. I'm a woman in a male prison. This is not right'."
Ms Smith also said: "While she continues to be denied this right to surgery and to be moved to a female prison establishment, she remains extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of harm.
"Examples of her self-harm have included injecting bleach into her testicles, attempting self-surgery to remove her scrotum.
"And I will make my last quote from this prisoner's letter to me: 'I hope you can help me and get me out of this hell of a prison that's not fit for transgender people or cares for them'.
"I can reassure the House her constituency MP is taking her case very seriously and is doing her best to assist this prisoner."
Justice Minister Caroline Dinenage said she could not comment on individual cases.
The Conservative frontbencher added the review of policy for transgender prisoners will begin taking evidence in the new year, and has been expanded to include the probation service and youth justice services.
Peter Dawson, of the Prison Reform Trust, and Jay Stewart, of Gendered Intelligence, will provide independent advice and the final report will recommend new guidelines, Ms Dinenage said.
The minister went on: "The review will now be widened to consider what improvements we can make across prisons, the probation service and youth justice services.
"This review will develop recommendations for revised guidelines which cover the future shape of prison and probation services for transgender prisoners and offenders in the community.
"It will be coordinated by a senior official from the Ministry of Justice who will engage with relevant stakeholders including from the trans community to ensure that we provide staff in the prisons and probation with the best possible guidance."
On recording the number of transgender prisoners, Ms Dinenage said the Government was considering introducing equality forms for all defendants in criminal court cases as part of their pre-sentence report.
She said: "The use of this form as standard would enable us to monitory the amount of self-declared transgender individuals who have received either a custodial or a community sentence and the resourcing and operational impact of introducing this form is being looked at right now."