Vulnerable women in Scottish prisons will be put at risk if men who ‘self-identify’ as female are allowed into women’s jails, a former prison governor has warned.
The Scottish Government is proposing to allow people to legally change sex simply by self-declaring their gender.
Rhona Hotchkiss, former head of Cornton Vale women’s prison, said the controversial proposals would allow more men “who may want to hurt women” to gain access to women’s prisons.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said there were ten male prisoners identifying as women last month, but at least three of them were denied transfers to women’s jails due to the risk to inmates.
However, Hotchkiss said there were 22 men claiming to be transgender in Scottish prisons at the time of her departure last year.
Some were already in women’s jails, while others were in male prisons but intending to transfer.
It was also revealed that female inmates are expected to shower with men claiming to be women in at least one Scottish prison.
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson told the Scottish Parliament: “I have been advised by a recently retired governor that there is at least one female prison in which anatomically male prisoners and female prisons are expected to shower together”.
He said that a history of male abuse “can have, and has had, serious impacts on the mental wellbeing and rehabilitation of vulnerable female prisoners. Is it not time to ensure that people who are physically male are no longer admitted to female-only prisons?”
Last month, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf claimed inmates are not able to choose their prisons, as decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and that changes to the law would not affect this.
But he added that the prison service would be reviewing its gender identity policy.