Trans folk and prisons, again: Parliamentary question from Caroline Lucas MP

Prisons and criminal law seem an eternally popular topic whenever I blog about them, attracting more readers and more retweets than almost any other topic. It’s probably not a good indication of the way Trans people feel about society as many of us are only too aware that we’re eternally only one prejudiced police officer away from a spell in prison, even when we are the victims.

This time though, it’s nothing bad at least.

Well, nothing that’s surprisingly bad.

Green MP Caroline Lucas asked a written question in Parliament (Hansard link) to find out who the Ministry of Justice had consulted on their new guidance. The answer was interesting, a little disappointing but perhaps not surprising: Asides from QUANGOs, government departments and those involved in running/inspecting prisons, it was just Unions, (Possibly including a:gender, but I fear not) the Gender Trust and the Beaumont Society.

For those not familiar with the Beaumont Society, it’s an organisation primarily designed to support crossdressers, not people who have actually transitioned. (Although many of it’s members do go on to transition, as is inevitable with such a group!) So, relevant organisations seem to have included, err, the Gender Trust, who were apparently selected because they “asked to be part of the consultation” or “on the basis of potential interest in the Instruction”.

It seems the Ministry did not publicly advertise the consultation, failed to mention any consultation in response to a Freedom of Information request and don’t consider that Freedom of Information request or a follow-up letter (To which I have not received a response) specifically asking about a consultation to be an expression of interest? How about prior work and submissions on the topic from both GIRES and Press For Change?

Does the Ministry of Justice and Ken Clarke actually care what we think?

Didn’t think so.

P.S. Brownie points, or the political equivalent, to whoever from the Green Party is briefing Caroline Lucas on Trans issues as you’re clearly doing an effective job. We need people doing this in all political parties. (Labour Party and Conservative Party members take note!)

2 comments

  1. I think you’re being a little bit harsh in your of the Beaumont Society. Have you ever been to a meeting or know any of the members? Before access to the internet BS were the only group I’d heard of and could go meet real people. The first trans women I met were at a Cambridge meeting in 98, there were quite a mix across the gender spectrum (albeit no trans men), ditto for the weekly TG group except one occasion when I was there. Is there a group who supports people who transition? I can’t recall my GP or RR ever mentioning one in the period I was jumping hoops.

    1. I’ve been to a couple in the Cambridge area, yes. (Not officially “Beaumont Society” but the same people involved) They certainly used to be the go-to group in the 90s (And earlier) before the current crop of organisations surfaced.

      But, as far as I’m aware, the Beaumont Society do not particularly claim to speak for Transsexual folk (Or don’t any more, at any rate) beyond the fact that some of their members happen to transition. Given that their partner support group is called “Women of the Beaumont Society”, if they did I think they’d rapidly find a number of internal schisms and would need to rename that part of the organisation!

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