Alex Blaze

Trans Prisoners Gain Rights in Germany, UK

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 07, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

New guidelines on how to deal with transitioning in prison were handed down by the Ministry of Justice in the UK:

The document says: "An establishment must permit prisoners who consider themselves transsexual and wish to begin gender reassignment to live permanently in their acquired gender.

"Transsexual people, particularly those who have not undergone surgery or extended hormone therapy, may use various items to assist with their presentation in their acquired gender. These can range from sophisticated prostheses to padded bras.

"Regardless of their level of sophistication, access to them can only be restricted in exceptional circumstances.

"These items may only be prohibited when it can be demonstrated that they present a security risk which cannot be reasonably mitigated."

Transgender prisoners already have the right (at least on paper) to be housed according to their gender identity and to be addressed as such.

A German court ruled that trans people in prison had some rights to live as the gender they are and not the gender they were assigned:

An incarcerated transgender man [sic] first brought the suit to court because a state prison would not let him [sic] wear women's clothing as he had done before entering prison.

The prison said the ban was due to "security concerns" because the prisoner choice of clothes might make him [sic] a target for attacks.

But Germany's individual rights and anti-discrimination laws protect a prisoner's right to choose his or her clothing, the court said, and trump hypothetical security concerns.

Unlike many other countries, prisoners in Germany do not wear uniforms.

That's not too hard, is it?

I know that in the US it's simply not possible to do the same since we're a neo-calvinist country where everyone knows that if they commit a crime the state is allowed to do anything it wants to them. Clearly, if someone does something illegal, then they're pretty much asking to be treated like dirt, amiright?

But the UK isn't much more compassionate than the US and Germans aren't radically different either. The difference is that we like to think we're hardasses so we let our more barbaric instincts express themselves. Since most of us won't actually interact with these people, it's not like our compassion will have a chance to assert itself.

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I wonder why the prisoners don't wear uniforms.