Auckland, 5 May 2020

Women’s rights group Speak Up For Women supports calls for a review of how transgender prisoners are housed while incarcerated. The group recognises the vulnerability of transgender prisoners and advocates for solutions that will protect the rights and safety of all.

The case of Kylie So, a transwoman housed for three weeks in a men’s prison, has sparked outcry from trans rights advocates. So is charged with murdering 71-year-old Australian man Robert Dickie.

Ani O’Brien, Spokeswoman for Speak Up For Women, says: “Gender identity and sex are not the same thing and there is evidence that trans-identified males retain male patterns of violence. Female prisoners, who are amongst the most vulnerable women in society, have the right to single sex facilities, as provided for in the Human Rights Act, and international conventions. The Department of Corrections has a duty of care to keep all prisoners safe.”

The women’s rights group says that open discussions are needed about how to balance the safety and wellbeing of all prisoners, as well as Corrections staff, to ensure that in attempting to solve one problem, another is not caused.

“It is imperative that women’s interests, safety, and rights are represented in discussions around the housing of transgender prisoners. So far they have been overlooked,” says Ms O’Brien. “Third spaces for transgender prisoners would ensure that vulnerable women are not put at further risk by de facto sex self-ID policies. We saw just last year with the alleged sexual assaults in Christchurch Women’s Prison what happens when the feelings of men are prioritised over women’s rights.”

Speak Up For Women continues to reach out to relevant parties and pursue further conversations that balance the rights of all.


Notes to the editor:

1. Trans identified males retain male patterns of violent offending

2. UN rules: The Nelson Mandela Rules on imprisonment mandate single sex facilities. -Cabinet-paper-Seventh-Periodic-Report-20-June-2019.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3wLLOwSgF 63nCpjiVA3YO8MbOpeLwhamKr86_E7K5nAwqdlwUAkzNN6-4

3. Transwomen accused of sexual assault in Christchurch Women’s Prison or-sexual-assault-behind-bars

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