Its the Sun wot doesn’t get it

Transsexual prisoners must be treated in the same manner as cis men and women.

Prison officers should not break the law – or they risk being sued.

Rivetting stuff! But hardly the sort of story you’d expect to be headlined as shock! Horror! – or to be in any way seen as dramatic, new or similar.

Ah: but then you are operating in another world from the brave lads over at Wapping. For as the Sun tells us today: “PRISON bosses have been told not to order intimate strip searches on sex swap lags, it was revealed last night.”

OMG!! The sheer awfulness of it all…and yet further evidence that all you have to do, to get an easier ride in life is to put your hand up (perhaps not the best of metaphors, given the subject matter!) and declare yourself to be one of those dashed transsexual bounders.

The only difficulty with this is that the Sun story (and the almost carbon copy of same lifted by the Mail) appears to be wrong in almost every particular. Let’s start with the implied sensation with which this story starts. No more intimate searches for transsexuals.

Not true. According to the Ministry of Justice today, intimate searches are not allowed. Period. On men or on women. Prison officers do not have the legal right to carry out an intimate search on prisoners – which is defined as a search that involves the exploration of body cavities. There’s nothing new in that.

What the Sun is getting mixed up here – an easy enough mistake, perhaps, for a paper that is not unfamiliar with the concept of talking out of its posterior – is what is known as a “squat search”. This involves, obviously enough, asking a prisoner to remove their lower clothing and, in exceptional circumstances, to squat.

No penetration, though, not even by a rubber-gloved mitt. Rather, it is a fact of basic physiology that if you have hidden something (drugs, weapons or other contraband) up your behind, it tends to drop out when you squat.

Now: men are sked to squat; women aren’t. But before people start screaming sexual discrimination, there is a fairly straightforward reason for that difference. And that is, quite simply, that women just happen to have a second body cavity which can be used as a place of concealment.

And once up there, things DON’T tend to drop out. For which reason, there isn’t much point in getting women to squat, as prison intelligence suggests that given the choice between front and rear orifice…women tend to opt for the former.

Back to the Sun. This “new” policy will apply to “sex swap lags”. Er, no. First off, its not a new policy, because it isn’t even policy yet. Arguably, there is an issue here – which is that the MoJ has been woefully slow to develop guidelines, taking some 15 years not to come up with prison policy for transgender inmates.

But as they haven’t actually agreed anything yet, it is still not a “new” policy. Nor is the non-search regime just going to apply to transsexuals – since all that is in discussion is that prisoners be searched according to the protocols of their body gender post-op.

If you don’t get cis women to do a squat search because it is unlikely to be very productive…there is little point getting a trans woman to do such a search, for much the same reason.

Meanwhile, trans men will now be subject to the same search regime as cis men. So, er, it is hardly a blanket exemption for transsexuals.

Ah, but…according to the Sun, all you have to do to exempt yourself from this search regime is to claim to be gender dysphoric: so pre-op trans women get to be exempted too?

Not according to the longer version of the MoJ guidelines that the Sun may or may not have seen. These state pretty clearly that “Prisoners who do not hold a Gender Recognition Certificate and have not received any treatment (surgical or non surgical) for gender dysphoria, would normally be expected to be full searched by staff of the same birth gender”.

Same applies to squat searches. The only slight tweak to this is that if you have gone so far as to obtain a gender recognition certificate , but are not yet post-op, you cannot be asked to squat. So this applies to who? One, maybe two prisoners in the entire prison population over the course of a year. Yay!

It’s the end of civilisation as we know it.

jane
xx

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About janefae

On my way from here to there
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2 Responses to Its the Sun wot doesn’t get it

  1. Strange that the Sun are calling it a “leak” when it’s nothing of the sort – looks like they ran across one of the FoI requests that have been floating around recently and were all answered late last week – mine is at http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/transgender_prisoners_and_pso330#incoming-132659 (Blog post about this is in the works)

    • janefae says:

      yes: this is exacty the document i have had sight of…so its scarcely any great state secret. The scandal remains that they appear to have done nothing to put this into operation one way or another for the best part of 15 years: not that they are proposing to clarify legal rights for us oh-so-privileged trannies!

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