Centre's Director, Richard Garside on the BBC

Friday, 12 October, 2018

In recent weeks our Director, Richard Garside, appeared on BBC Look North (Yorkshire) and BBC Radio Two's Jeremy Vine show to discuss Karen White's life sentence, prisons and transgender prisoners. 

Karen White, a transgender woman with a conviction for indecent assault, indecent exposure and gross indecency involving children, was sentenced on Thursday after being placed in a women's prison and sexually assaulting two prisoners. 

On BBC Look North, Richard said:

My view is that those male prisoners who identify as women, the prison service should look quite seriously at separate provision for them. They are not women but they're also identifying as women and it's important that their needs are taken care of but that shouldn't be at the expense of female prisoners.

On the Jeremy Vine show, Richard was joined by Becky Kaufmann, Justice Policy Officer for Scottish Trans Alliance to discuss the case, saying:

I think there's a really important point in all of this which is that today in England and Wales there are about 4000 women in prison. More than half of them will have had experiences of serious sexual and other forms of violence by men. They will have been traumatised by sometimes some very grotesque violence and what the current policy is asking those women to do is to share their spaces with prisoners who they, not unreasonably, will consider to be men. And I think the issues around secondary traumatisation and the stresses and anxiety - regardless of whether that male-bodied prisoner actually does anything - just purely being in their space is a source of great distress. Male bodied prisoners who identify as women clearly have a right to be respected in their expression and have a right to feel safe. Whether that should be at the expense of the many, many women in women's prisons today and women's feelings is another matter altogether. The prison service just needs to sort themselves out on this.

For more commentary and thoughts on this issue, the Centre has recently published pieces by teacher and trans activist, Debbie Hayton and another by Richard