One of UK's most famous transgender activists is caught up in a legal battle with the Ministry of Justice for sending her to a male prison.
Tara Hudson, a transwoman, was sent to a male prison in 2015 and spent seven days in HMP Bristol before being transferred to a women’s jail, HMP Eastwood Park, following outrage and a petition to move her. Around 150,000 people signed the petition.
Now the 28-year-old is suing the Ministry of Justice, claiming her status as a woman was ignored when she was sent to the male prison.
Hudson told Daily Mail, "I was horrified when I read the defence from the MoJ. It states that I’m a male, which is a complete insult, humiliating and wrong because I’ve been living as a female all my adult life. I’m not a drag act."
She also accused the ministry of transphobia. "When I was put in jail I’d been the subject of transphobia and it feels like I’m the subject of transphobia again from the MoJ, which is horrible because it’s my government."
Hudson, who has had breast surgery and takes hormone medication, does not have a gender recognition certificate and was not considered female by the British government and MoJ when she was imprisoned.
She feels that her reassigned gender was ignored, and she was forced to live in an "intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive" environment during her time at HMP Bristol. "They should accept they mistreated me and move forward rather than aggressively fight me."
"It’s shameful when really they should be trying to make sure a trans person is not mistreated,"she lamented.
Hudson, who was imprisoned after she admitted head-butting a barman at Be At One bar in Brunel Square, Bath, on Boxing Day 2014, described a "cacophony of noise and verbal abuse" when she arrived at HMP Bristol in October 2015, and that prisoners shouted, "What is it? Kill it."
She also alleged that she was sexually assaulted. She says she was groped by a fellow prisoner on her breasts and genitals. After her release, Hudson said, "I was forced into showing my breasts. It was a lot more violent."
She also pointed out how violent men are. "Girls show their emotions, they cry and they self harm, but males when they have got a problem, they just let it out with violence."
Her request to move prisons was rejected at an appeal hearing but a judge said she had a "worrying" criminal record. Supporters protested outside Bristol Crown Court as she appealed against her sentence.
Lawyers for the MoJ and government said that Hudson had already been cut some slack. "Tara is a matter of biological fact a man" and that being a "transwoman" does not hold any legal importance, the lawyers said.
They also added that the staff only used female pronouns "out of respect for her wishes" and that because she is legally a man, sending her to a male prison did not stand for "scant regard for her wellbeing."
They also denied breaching her human rights. It is claimed that efforts were made by staff to guarantee she wasn’t abused or assaulted by inmates. The case is due to be heard at the Mayor’s and City of London Court in April.
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