Transgender debate in Scotland: Why prisons should be single sex – Kenny MacAskill MSP

I’ve written before about women in prison with their specific needs and the dangers posed by policies allowing for gender self-identification.

Inmates of men's prisons who self-identify as female should not be sent to women's prisons, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Inmates of men's prisons who self-identify as female should not be sent to women's prisons, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Most had been based on what’s been happening in England. There, as in Scotland, the number of transgender prisoners who have undergone surgery is small.

It’s a small section of the population anyway and they are far more likely to be the victims rather than the perpetrators of crime.

But self-identification has seen numbers expand and, worryingly, some prison inmates who now are or classify themselves as transgender are sex offenders. [See editor’s note below*]

In reality, it’s men identifying as women, perhaps because they believe it’ll be an easier place to serve their time or for more nefarious reasons.

Now though, we have research on the situation in Scotland through a study done by the organisation Keep Prisons Single Sex.

The numbers of transgender prisoners in Scotland remains low, 11 at last count. But the issues remain the same and vulnerable women – that’s most in the women’s estate – feel threatened and are being psychologically damaged.

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The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is an organisation I’ve long admired. Staff do a difficult job and are rarely accorded the thanks they deserve. It’s a task they carry out often with great humanity and only rarely with force.

But whether on the direction of the Scottish government or of their own volition, they have been subsumed by the ideology that denies biological sex and the needs related to it.

Indeed, research shows that those pursuing this agenda targeted prisons on the basis that if they could achieve it there, then they “would be able to ensure that all other public services should be able to do likewise”.

Interviews carried out by the SPS with prisoners and staff about this issue have only partially been produced. I know as I’ve been asking and submitting freedom of information requests, but like the authors of this latest research I am still waiting. But what’s available clearly shows that women feel threatened, degraded and even traumatised.

This has to stop. Women have rights, even whilst serving a prison sentence. There’s a duty of care and they’re being failed.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

*This article has been edited to remove the claim that 40 per cent of transgender prison inmates are sex offenders. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said this was based on a snapshot survey in 2017 and that the total figure of transgender prisoners may not have been accurate, making a calculation of the percentage of sex offenders unreliable. The figures may also have changed significantly since then.

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