Humza Yousaf: Transgender prisoners won’t get jail choice The Times 17.01.20

The original article is here.

Gender recognition certificates will not give transgender prisoners the right to choose whether they are sent to male or female jails, the justice secretary has said.

The Scottish government plans to make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender, but Humza Yousaf sought to reassure MSPs that it would not have an impact on prisoner accommodation.

The changes would enable trans people to get a gender recognition certificate through self-declaration after six months, rather than requiring medical evidence and a two-year period of living as that gender.

The justice secretary was asked by Johann Lamont, the Labour MSP, about prison staff who were said to be concerned about the potential impact on female inmates, “who are among the most vulnerable in our society”.

Mr Yousaf said: “Acquiring a gender recognition certificate does not and will not give a prisoner any new legal rights regarding the decisions made by the Scottish Prison Service about their accommodation.

“Decisions as to the most appropriate location to accommodate transgender people are made on an individualised basis after careful consideration of all relevant factors, including risk.

“Such decisions seek to protect the wellbeing and rights of the individual, but also crucially the welfare and rights of others including staff and other inmates to achieve an outcome that balances risk with the safety of all.

“No changes are planned to this specific part of the process as a consequence of the proposed reforms to the way in which a person can obtain a gender recognition certificate.”

However, Mr Yousaf disclosed that the prison service would review its gender identity and gender reassignment policy, which covers all aspects of a transitioning person’s journey.

The service confirmed that the review of the policy, which was originally developed in 2014, would take place in “early 2020” and would involve “consultation with MSPs, criminal justice partners and other interested parties”.

Kenny Gibson, the SNP MSP, also asked about prison arrangements for transgender inmates and said that he had been told about “at least one female prison in which anatomically male prisoners and female prisoners are expected to shower together”.

Mr Yousaf said he would be surprised if that were the case. “There will be transgender women who are within the female prison estate,” he said. “At times that request has been refused because of the risk that is posed to women, but of course there would be processes in place to protect women.”