What a day!

What a day. It started with my taking a pot at the slightly louder end of the trans community in respect of press complaining…and ends with chatting to the office of the Belmarsh Prison Governor.

For anyone wishing to pursue similar action, here’s where I’ve been and what I found out.

Nina Kanagasingham was remanded into custody pending trial today at the Old Bailey. The Press Association released a rather nasty piece which wholly misgendered her and referenced not once – but twice – the fact she was unshaven and had stubble. Ugh! (to the story, that is).

I hit the roof, donned my cape and started trying to work out who might be a suitable target for action.

I spoke to the Offices of Lynne Featherstone (Equalities Minister) and Fiona MacTaggart (Shadow Equalities bod) and am still waiting to see what they have to say on the matter.

I then got on to the Old Bailey, suspect I quite unreasonably scared the pants of a junior person there, and then had a seriously sensible discussion with the Acting Court Manager, who confirmed Nina had been up for an initial hearing today – and that she had gone back to Belmarsh, which is currently the circuit prison, and not Wandsworth. Still a male prison, though.

I then spoke to the Governor’s office over at Belmarsh, who weren’t aware, as of half an hour ago, that Nina was scheduled to be coming there. So we shall wait and see. More to the point, I also did what I could to try and get Belmarsh, when Nina arrives, to take on board the needs of a trans woman in a male prison, and to talk to Trans London. Fingers crossed on that one.

In betwixt and between, I spoke to the EHRC and the Press Association. Oh: and the Ministry of Justice. Apparently the EHRC are following a similar road to myself, in that they are looking at legal action under the Equality Act. There is legal precedent, so we’ll see what transpires.

The MoJ are supposed to be sending me their guidelines on dealing with Trans prisoners, but haven’t yet. Possibly out of embarrassment, as there is some concern they may be in the process of getting this case wrong. Again, we’ll wait and see.

Last but by no means least, I spoke to the PA. They had already had their collar felt by the EHRC, and therefore an updated version of their release now got the gendering right. It still references “sex change”. And it still gloats over the stubble. Although a spokesman over there has replied to that saying they “don’t agree in any shape or form that our reports “appear to gloat” over the unshaven condition of Nina”. Hmmm.

Check out the original report in my earlier blog. See what you think.

I did ask them whether they would now be reporting on Anne Widdecombe’s stubble – but answer came there none.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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5 Responses to What a day!

  1. Be aware that there is quite a lot of background already on trans prisoners. This case has particular relevance <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/sep/04/transexual-prisoner-moved-womens-prison"Transsexual prisoner wins move to women's jail

    The Prison Service was working on a so-called Prison Service Order (PSO) .. basically an internal policy instruction .. since the mid 1990’s. They dragged their heels outrageously on this, although gradually it was refined with consultative feedback until it was nearly there. They then went cold and shelved it .. basically because its existence would have undermined their position in the above case.

    So the Prison Service knows full well already how to deal with prisoners like this on remand and don’t let them pretend they don’t.

  2. I concur with Christine. We should jump on them if they don’t believe they have sufficient guidelines. I go onto prisons a good deal both in my role as a Psychotherapist working with Trans prisoners and when I deliver training for the gender trust. The situation is by no means perfect but their are guidelines which are currently under review but in my experience a large number of prison establishments do their best to get it right. If they don’t we should certainly make it known. Scurrilous reporting as witnessed in the Daily Mail over the recent death on the Underground is outrageous and totally unacceptable. I have written to The Daily Mail and suggest that we all do the same.

  3. Paris Lees says:

    Good work Michelle – can we get in touch with the prison that is holding Nina and make sure she is suitably housed?

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