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Transgender prison population rises by a fifth in two years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal 

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Transgender prison population rises by a fifth in two years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal

  • Number of transgender inmates rose 21 per cent from 163 in 2019 to 197 in 2021
  • The majority – 146 – of them identified as female while 39 said they were male
  • Further 23 are expected to be listed as holding Gender Recognition Certificates










The number of transgender people in prison has risen by a fifth in two years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal. 

The number of inmates in England and Wales who identify as transgender rose 21 per cent in the period from 163 in 2019 to 197 in 2021. 

It follows a year-on-year increase in the number of transgender prisoners from 70 in 2016, when the data was first collected, to 125 in 2017 and 139 in 2018.

The majority of transgender prisoners identified as women, according to the Offender Equalities Annual Report seen by The Telegraph. 

‘When asked about the gender with which the prisoner identified from the following categories, 146 identified as female, 39 as male, 11 as non-binary and one did not provide a response,’ the report said. 

The MoJ has acknowledged it is likely the numbers, which show over half of jails hold one or more transgender inmates, are not an accurate depiction. 

The number of transgender people in prison has risen by a fifth in two years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal (file photo, Holloway women's prison)

The number of transgender people in prison has risen by a fifth in two years, Ministry of Justice figures reveal (file photo, Holloway women’s prison)

It is expected the report will also confirm a further 23 prisoners hold Gender Recognition Certificates which legally recognises they have changed their gender.

The reports comes after the High Court ruled in July that the Government can house transgender women in female prisons, despite claims from an inmate it raised the risk of sex attacks.   

A female prisoner, known only as FDJ, brought a legal challenge against a MoJ policy which allows prisoners to be housed according to their gender identity ‘irrespective of whether they have taken any legal or medical steps to acquire that gender’.

At a High Court hearing in March, lawyers for FDJ argued that accommodating transgender women in the female prison estate ‘exposes female prisoners to a risk of sexual assault that would not arise absent that allocation’.

They argued this was discrimination against cisgender women as that risk did not exist when transgender men are placed in men’s prisons.

However, the MoJ argued the policy pursued a legitimate aim, including ‘facilitating the rights of transgender people to live in and as their acquired gender (and) protecting transgender people’s mental and physical health’.

A female prisoner, known only as FDJ, brought a legal challenge against a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) policy which allows prisoners to be housed according to their gender identity 'irrespective of whether they have taken any legal or medical steps to acquire that gender'. File photo of an English prison

A female prisoner, known only as FDJ, brought a legal challenge against a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) policy which allows prisoners to be housed according to their gender identity ‘irrespective of whether they have taken any legal or medical steps to acquire that gender’. File photo of an English prison 

In a ruling in July, two High Court judges rejected FDJ’s claim and upheld the MoJ’s policies as lawful.

It follows cases of transgender female prisoners sexually assaulting fellow inmates.

In 2018, Karen White – who was born a man but was placed in women’s prison HMP New Hall after telling authorities of his identification as a woman – sexually assaulted two female inmates.

Prosecutors claimed White – who had a history of sex attacks – used a ‘transgender persona’ to gain access to vulnerable females. White was ordered to serve a life sentence in a male prison for the jail sex attacks.

In 2020, official figures showed that transgender prisoners carried out seven sex attacks on women in jail.

In 2018, Karen White (pictured) - who was born a man but was placed in women's prison HMP New Hall after telling authorities of his identification as a woman - sexually assaulted two female inmates

Karen is pictured in 2016, before her arrest, when she was known to cross-dress, but had not begun gender reassignment

It follows cases of transgender female prisoners sexually assaulting fellow inmates. In 2018, Karen White – who was born a man but was placed in women’s prison HMP New Hall after telling authorities of his identification as a woman – sexually assaulted two female inmates 

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