know them as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – people are people.
Judith Light
transsexual person is someone who lives or proposes to live in the gender
opposite to the one assigned at birth. 
The gender in which the transsexual person lives or proposes to live is
known as that person’s acquired gender.[1]
Moreover, the term  transsexual  has  a precise 
medical  definition,  and  is  reserved  for 
people  who  desire  to,  or  who  actually 
do ‘transition’ to the opposite sex, by undergoing sexual reassignment surgery.[2]
community is not only outcast outside in the world but also within prisons,
where they are kept segregated from the general population. Transgenders
usually face a lot of violence and abuse within the four walls of the prison.
The violence is carried out more often by the guards than the inmates.This type
of abuse usually take a form of sexual abuse. The issues and problems related
with transgender incarceration have not gained much momentum for the simple
reason that the community is marginalized and occasionally outcast. They thrive
in ignominious darkness worldwide. Their voices are curbed if raised; they are
underrepresented. No matter how well developed is the country; the Trans-genders
still face challenges in terms of the behavior of the guards, authorities and
inmates. This also includes the deteriorating health conditions they show while
in prison. Furthermore, trans-genders have acquired genders, sometimes by
undergoing surgery or by having hormone therapy.
of the situation when a trans-gender with feminine characteristics is forcibly
thrown to a male ward, it is like keeping both male and female prisoners
together. This piece is an attempt to analyze their sexual identities, the
problems they encounter in the global prison system and the relevant legal

United Kingdom
detailed new policy document drawn up by Kenneth Clarke’s Ministry of Justice
in 2011 requires jail warders to address inmates by courtesy titles such as
Mister, must call transsexual prisoners “Miss”
or “Ms” under the new
mandatory guidelines. The 20-page guidebook, issued to prison governors
remarked that “An establishment must
permit prisoners who consider themselves transsexual and wish to begin gender
reassignment to live permanently in their acquired gender.[3]
the point of view of the security, it is provided that if it emerges that a
prisoner has been placed in the estate opposite to the legally recognized
gender, a transfer must be arranged as soon as possible unless the prisoner
requests location in this estate.[4]Not
to forget, the Equality Act, 2010 stands for all types of gender discrimination
in all types of places.Thus, we see that there are sufficient laws in hand for
trans-genders inmates but nevertheless, they are suppressed in and outside the
United States
The courts have recognized that the underlying condition of
gender identity disorder is real, and that the provision of medical care
includes providing hormones and surgery in appropriate cases. In state prisons,
transgender prisoners have frequently been denied any transition-related
Transgender people who have not had genital surgery are
generally classified according to their birth sex for purposes of prison
housing, regardless of how long they may have lived as a member of the other
gender, and regardless of how much other medical treatment they may have
Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 prohibits
discrimination on grounds of sex. Similarly, there are gamut of other laws such
as Victoria Equal Opportunity Act 1995, Western
Australia Equal Opportunity Act 1984, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, et al which
secure the rights of different sexes. Despite these, a lingering concern
remains which is the management of trans-genders in prisons. They are denied
required treatment at times, sometimes are subjected to prison violence.
they can wear, the personal items they are permitted to purchase, the way in which 
they  are  searched,  and  the  name  by 
which  they  are  referred  to  by  staff 
and  in  official prison records do not show a bright
picture though.  At times, self- harms are also afflicted by them.
Recently, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that transgender people are a third gender.[7]Article 14
of the Indian Constitution as well many other Directive Principles of State
Policy enshrine the spirit to provide all the genders an equal opportunity to nourish
and flourish. The Bombay High Court had also considered to frame special
guidelines for transgender prisoners as their issues need to be addressed
effectively. What they complain is about the indifferent behavior of prison
staffs. There has been a point made to have a special ward for these
After going through the cases of the various prison systems
around the world, one might wonder about the nature of problems every transgender
face during imprisonment. (Though these are handful but enough to show the
plight of the community.) The similar problems are amplified greatly in all
these parts of the world. The ‘similar’ problems include the discrimination
they face in prison wards if kept with other genders in the wards, the sexual
abuse resulting from it, the denied medical treatment to them, the refusal to
provide them with proper clothing, the bad attitude of the prison authorities
towards them, legal underrepresentation, etc. These are the ‘general’ concerns
and not the special ones. The inmates have their own peculiar and complex
problems. It is to be realized that these people have just chosen their
sexuality and they have every right to be with dignity and poise.The idea to
open special prisons for these should be welcomed in India. The criminal
justice system needs an overhaul in this direction as well.It is quintessential
for their personal development. The need to answer a psychological question is
felt here, if we have prisoner rights for both men and women then, why not for
the ‘hijras’ as we refer to them?

[1] See Care and Management of Trans sexual prisoners by Ministry of
Justice, UK
[2] Rebecca  Mann,  ‘The  Treatment  of 
Transgender  Prisoners,  Not  Just  an  American 
Problem—A  Comparative Analysis  of  American, 
Australian,  and  Canadian  Prison  Policies 
Concerning  the  Treatment  of  Transgender Prisoners and a ‘Universal’ Recommendation 
to  Improve Treatment’
 (2006) 15 Law and
Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Legal Issues 
available at

[3]David Barett, Sex swap prisoners get right to bras and
available at
[4] See supra note 1
[5]Chelsea Manning, Americas prison
fails transgender inmates available at
[6] Ibid.

[7]YogitaLimaye, India court recognises
transgender people as third gender available at

About The Author:

Dhakarey is a third year student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. A keen and avid learner in life, she prefers to always associate herself with
something really productive. Writing on diverse issues is her forte. She also loves to read extensively. 

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