Sex-change inmates to get make-up and padded bras

Prisoners who want a sex-change will now be allowed to wear make-up and order padded bras, thanks to new Government guidelines.

The directions, which have been framed by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s department, permit inmates who are transvestites, transsexuals or in the process of changing their sex to buy “gender appropriate” clothing.

And prisons that refuse to abide by the guidelines could face legal action.


The mandatory guidelines, which comprise a 20-page document, were circulated by the Ministry of Justice last month and come into force on 14 March.

The guidelines state: “An establishment must permit prisoners who consider themselves transsexual and wish to begin gender reassignment to live permanently in their acquired gender.

“Transsexual people, particularly those who have not undergone surgery or extended hormone therapy, may use various items to assist with their presentation in their acquired gender”, the guidelines go on.

“These can range from sophisticated prostheses to padded bras”.

Security risk

The mandatory nature of the guidelines is spelled out for prisons that may not see the need to make these allowances.

The guidelines state that access to things like prostheses and padded bras “can only be restricted in exceptional circumstances.

“These items may only be prohibited when it can be demonstrated that they present a security risk which cannot be reasonably mitigated”.

The guidelines also stipulate: “Make-up that is vital to presenting in the acquired gender, such as foundation to cover up beard growth, may not be restricted”.

Court action

And there is a stark warning of possible court action for any prisons that ignore the directions.

“Any restriction of these items could be subject to judicial review”, the guidelines state.

“If a prison decides to apply such restrictions, they must be able to provide a detailed and reasonable justification for doing so”.

Mail order

Prisoners will be permitted to order clothes from the Argos Additons mail order catalogue, at their own expense.

And family members will be able to bring suitable clothes with them when visiting inmates.

The guidelines also require prison staff to call male transsexual prisoners Miss or Ms and such prisoners will have the right to a place in a women’s prison.

Gender reassignment

Last month it emerged that an inmate at a women’s prison was a transsexual but was still awaiting a swap operation.

Joseph Wilson, 23, now calling himself Nicola, was sent to Cornton Vale women’s prison in Scotland after being remanded on an assault charge.

He had yet to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but had started to form breasts due to hormone treatment.

Psychiatric problem

Critics of sex change operations say that gender dysphoria is a psychiatric problem, not a physical one, and radical physical surgery does more harm than good.

In 2002 doctors from the NHS Portman Clinic – an internationally acclaimed centre – stated, “what many patients find is that they are left with a mutilated body, but the internal conflicts remain”.

Many transsexuals regret their decision to live in the opposite sex. A Home Office report on transsexualism, released in April 2000, said: “Many people revert to their biological sex after living for some time in the opposite sex”.

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