Authorities worry that some inmates may be identifying as transgender in order to gain privileges.
There are currently up to 1,500 inmates who identify as transgender in England and Wales, according to the Chief Inspector of Prisons. That’s four times the national average in Britain.
The authorities are now concerned that some male prisoners may choose to identify as transwomen in order to receive special perks like showering alone, having separate cells, or applying for transfer to female prisons.
The concerns were also fueled by the high-profile case of transgender inmate Karen White, who sexually assaulted two women last year after transferring to a female prison. Several months later, the first separate prison wing for transgender inmates was opened in Britain.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell believes there is a way to protect both transgender inmates and female prisoners, making sure 'they are comfortable and not threatened.'
We need to be aware of a tiny minority who may do bad things. But that does not mean to say that we should, therefore, generalize and adopt a knee-jerk reaction to limit the rights of transgender people.
But lawyer and columnist Luke Gittos argues that inmates tend to exploit the system for privileges, as 'a lot of them, frankly, have nothing to lose in doing so.'
We need to make sure we’re robust in our treatment of this, and don’t allow ourselves to take all claims of transgenderism at face value, especially when it comes to prisoners in a male estate who stand to make material gains from doing so.
Author's comment: Here's a radical idea - maybe we could construct special prisons especially for heterosexual inmates? After all, if current trends continue, they will soon be a tiny minority.