You may be aware of the case of Tara Hudson, a transgender female who was sent to an all male prison in the UK last week.
Despite having lived as a woman for her whole adult life and having undergone substantial gender affirming surgery, Tara has not yet legally changed her gender from male to female.
The good news is that she has finally been moved to a female prison to serve out the rest of her sentence, but not before over 150,000 people, including myself, had signed up to an online petition supporting that move and her having suffered 23 hours a day confinement and substantial and traumatic verbal taunts from other inmates.
I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have received a custodial sentence for what she did, head-butting a bar manager who refused to serve her more alcohol when she was already very drunk, especially when one takes into account her previous record which includes battery and the fact that she had been conditionally discharged only 3 weeks earlier on another count.
But H.M. Prison Service, who are the ones who actually decide which prison an offender is sent to, were extremely remiss in not using their allowed powers of discretion in this case right from the outset. Tara has been punished not only for the offence she committed but also just for being herself.
One has a legal right in this country, the UK, to be treated according to the manner in which one presents oneself, and while I would never advocate that someone who may be expecting a custodial sentence (which, by the way, Tara was somewhat surprisingly not) should arrive at court attired as the wrong gender purely to ‘ave a larf at the system, Tara’s case is one of a person who has consistently lived her life as a woman and should therefore be treated as such at all times.
It would be interesting to know how she had been referred to during the court hearing. Did the magistrates and other court officials use female pronouns when addressing or referring to her and, despite the fact that she has not yet legally changed her gender, was she shown due courtesy and respect during the hearings?
My hope is that Tara can now serve out her sentence free from any more trans abuse and learn to control her temper, and that the Prison Service also learns from this episode.
And, although she has a history of mental illness in other areas, maybe Tara should also ensure she keeps up with the testosterone blockers, for everyone’s benefit.
One final thought I will add on this …
Much is said about the costs involved in getting one’s gender legally changed in the UK, amounting to hundreds of pounds, and yet Tara has had cosmetic surgery that must have cost many times more than that. Perhaps she and her family should also consider whether they have their priorities properly aligned to her best interests.
You are spot on that Tara should concentrate more on completing the paperwork for transition then looking for her drink but this story really highlights the antiquated processes transfolk have to embark on in the UK. Also I fear with the media attention Tara has had she may be subjected to further abuse in the women’s prison.
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Yes, the wheels turn slowly, but it’s the (apparent) disregard by the prison Service for the discretion they could have used that gets my goat. As for Tara’s life in a female prison, well only time will tell, but I pray that she’ll find some champions for her there.
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