Tara Hudson

Tara HudsonAnger over transgender woman held in a male jail

from various sources – May 2017
contributions by – Taibah Arif & Chantelle Adderley
Updates listed at the foot of this item

Tara Hudson, 26, from Bath who was born male but has lived her entire adult life as a woman was sent to a male prison in October 2015 after admitting assault over a Boxing Day bar fight. She protested that she was being sexually harassed by other prisoners. Nearly 110,000 people signed a petition calling for her to be transferred. Following the petition, Tara was moved to HMP Eastwood Park, which is a female prison in October 2015.

Unfortunately, even though Tara had been living the life of a woman for many years, in the eyes of the law, she was still considered a man.

In the first phone call that she made home since being jailed, Tara told her mother, Jackie Brooklyn, that she had become the victim of sexual harassment and innuendos, confirming the worst fears of her family and supporters.

Brooklyn said: “The prison allowed me to speak to her for about two minutes. She’s in a cell next to someone who has tried to commit suicide six times since she’s been there. She’s getting sexually harassed. Also inmates are screaming from their cells: ‘Tara, Tara, Tara, show us your tits.”

It was claimed that prison officials only gave Tara fresh underwear to change into on Wednesday following her detention, Brooklyn said, adding that until then she had been wearing the same clothes she was sent to the jail in on the previous Friday.

Tara had been kept in the healthcare wing, away from the general population. “She’s very isolated because she’s locked up for 23 hours a day and obviously when she’s allowed out she’s getting sexual harassment from all the other inmates,” Brooklyn said. On a following Friday Tara’s supporters gathered outside Bristol crown court, where her case was expected to be taken to an appeal. They hoped that a judge would decide to commute her 12-week jail term to a non-custodial sentence.

A post on a Facebook page set up to gather support for the demonstration said: “We want to make sure that she and the authorities know she is not alone and that over 100k people see her case as it is – a backwards, archaic instance of injustice.”

Cerian Jenkins, co-founder of the Bath Gender Equality Network, told the Guardian newspaper that Tara was at real risk inside Bristol prison, which has been singled out by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for levels of violence “considerably higher than in similar prisons”.

“I think anyone who has seen the pictures of Tara will agree that she is definitely a woman,” Jenkins said. “The idea of sending a woman to an all-male prison sounds like the plot of a terrible movie, but that’s the reality for her.”

Jenkins cited statistics from the US that have shown that transgender women in all-male prisons are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general prison population. She added that 59% have reported sexual assault, at the hands of both prisoners and staff.  “Tara and her mother hadn’t even expected her to get a custodial sentence,” Jenkins said. “No one is saying that she shouldn’t serve a sentence for what she’s done but she’s being punished once for the crime and secondly for who she is.”

Tara Hudson had lived as a female since she was a teenager, her mother said. “We always knew that she was born into the wrong body from a very early age,” she said. “From the age of five she knew she wanted to be a girl. She started going to gender reassignment clinic at 16.” It was six years ago that Tara Hudson began the surgical and hormone treatments needed to make the full transition from male to female. It’s been going fine.”

Her mother fears her daughter will suffer emotionally because of her experience in the male prison: “It’s going to set her right back, she’s very sensitive. She’s had problems with her mental health before because of all the transphobic abuse.”

A prison service spokesman would not go into the specifics of Tara’s case, but said offenders were placed “according to their legally recognised gender”. And added; “However, our guidelines allow room for discretion and in such cases, medical experts will review the circumstances in order to protect the emotional wellbeing of the person concerned. “Additionally, there are strict rules in place to ensure transgender prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.”

Brooklyn said she hoped the attention focused on her daughter’s case would lead to more sensitive treatment for transgender prisoners. “I just hope that the laws are changed, that transgender people can live their life as they want and go to the appropriate prison. If they are living as a woman they should go to the women’s prison,” she said.

After her release Tara said it was “brilliant” to be home after spending 40 days behind bars.


Follow-up News:

Trans prisoner Tara Hudson ‘treated like zoo animal’
2 November 2016

Tara Hudson: ‘The harrowing reality of being a trans woman in an all-male prison’
15 January 2016

Transgender woman who was sent to male prison is freed
3 December 2015

Transgender woman Tara Hudson moved to female prison
30 October 2015

Transgender prisoner at HMP Bristol ‘being sexually harassed’
29 October 2015

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