There’s been backlash to a #KeepPrisonsSingleSex group on social media this week after a report into how guards feel about the issue was released.
‘Keep Prisons Single Sex’ or KPSS was created in 2020 and believe that transgender prisoners (male to female) who own a gender recognition certificate (GRC) should not be allowed to be relocated into female prisons – no matter what their past offences may be.
The report and the group’s hashtag prompted an outpouring of angry comments from social media users over the group saying it is simply an excuse to misgender trans women and be disrespectful.
LGBTQ+ Charity showing their feelings
The report conducted by Matthew Maycock – a former Scottish Prison Service (SPS) staff member – recently came to light by KPSS through a freedom of information request by the group.
It showed a growing number of female prison guards who have spoken out on how they do not feel comfortable giving pat-downs or strip searches to transgender inmates.
It also revealed that several discussions with both female and male prison guards about the topic.
Some of them exhibited a ‘get it over with’ attitude, despite how it made them feel.
One guard said: “For me it was quite alien. I was like, oh this does make me feel uncomfortable, but you get used to it.”
Documents showed an interview with a male prison guard with his views on the strip search policies.
He said: “Luckily so far nobody has refused me, but I have had staff sort of, I hear them in the background saying oh that’s not right, I’m not going to do this, I’m not going to do that.
“But I’ve been fortunate so far that they’ve all carried out the jobs I’ve asked them to carry out.
“Well, if the person is transitioning and has been classified as a female, female staff shouldn’t say, no I’m not doing that, I’m not searching them.”
Maycock also, in a separate study, spoke to female prisoners about their feelings in which the majority remained uncomfortable with the situation.
They claimed that some of the transgender prisoners “switched back to their male birth gender after being released” and many refused to see them as female despite how they identify.
Maycock said these thoughts were “prejudiced views towards transgender people”.
Dr Kate Coleman, director of the campaign, believes that women’s rights, views and feelings have been ignored overall whilst prison policies have been developed. Coleman believes there should be a separate space for offenders who identify as transgender to be housed as per amendment 97ZA which was discussed in the House of Lords on the 10th of January.
“A third space should be made available for those minority of those transgender male prisoners who identify as women and who cannot reasonably be kept safe in the male estate.”
Many however are very much against this and have called it more of an anti-trans movement rather than a movement to protect women. Many have said the KPSS campaign is stigmatising transgender prisoners and it is causing panic within the lgbtq+ community and allies.
I spoke with a member of the QPOC (Queer People of Colour) Project about the issue,
“I think the lack of support towards the trans community is a major issue in all ways. Many prisoners look at transgender inmates as though they are still cis and are not worthy to be identified the way that they want to.
“Being put in prison is already a terrifying experience as is but being transgender and being in prison adds the fear of being harassed, discriminated and much more.”
Many said that women are being used as ‘A shield for trans women against male violence’
Below you will find Matthew Maycocks profile where his reports have been published: