On the 14th March, new Ministry of Justice guidelines came into effect, making sure that all transgendered prisoners will be allowed to buy and wear gender-appropriate clothing, make-up and prostheses whilst serving their sentences. Prison workers must also address trans prisoners by their chosen name and title. For prisoners with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), placement in an appropriate prison will also be allowed, unless there are particular security reasons not to. Trans prisoners without a GRC will have their cases decided individually to see where they would best be placed.
Although certain newspapers and their readers have been throwing a hissy fit over the fact that the various equality Acts put in place by Parliament are being adhered to (as they should be), these guidelines are a mighty step forward to recognising the rights of the transgendered prison population. There is no excuse for the rights of trans people being denied, no matter where they are in the U.K. That is why the Gender Recognition Act (2004) and other anti-discrimination policies were passed in the first place!
Still, there is some way to go to gain full acceptance for trans people. From offensive terms littering articles in the press, such as ‘sex swap‘ (I hate that phrase. It really is insensitive, belittling and demeaning!), and the prejudicial slant from reporting that focuses more on the aspects of the story that they can sensationalise, to some cisgendered people’s lack of knowledge and understanding about trans lives and issues. However, the law is (now) pretty much on our side.