Female correctional officers in Scotland are being forced to strip-search trans-identified male inmates in women's prisons, a duty they say is making them "uncomfortable." But their discomfort was characterized as "transphobic" in a recent report commissioned by the Scottish Prison Service.
The views of the female staff were documented in an unpublished report accessed through a freedom of information request completed by the U.K branch of Keep Prisons Single Sex (KPSS) – an incarcerated women's advocacy group. KPSS has since published the document on their website.
The author of the report, Dr. Matthew Maycock, is a former employee of the Scottish Prison Service and has previously published extensively on the experiences of transgender individuals in Scottish prisons.
According to a January 9 thread published on the KPSS Twitter, the report "clearly" demonstrates concerns about the housing of biological males in women's prisons – a subject that has come under increasing public scrutiny partly due to recent comments by J.K Rowling.
"The [Scottish Prison Service] is reported to be ignoring the entirety of Maycock's finding which was undertaken on their behalf. Why?" The KPSS official Twitter account asked today, going on to state that his approach was "questionable" from a research ethics perspective.
Within the report, titled Operational Staffs' Attitudes Towards Working with Transgender People in Custody, Maycock characterizes the female guards' discomfort with intimately searching male bodies as "transphobic," a theme carried over from his previous research on the subject in which he provides an arguably biased perspective.
Maycock writes that the female guards have "a binary understanding and conceptualisation of gender," effectively writing off their discomfort as an uneducated perspective that needs "challenging." Maycock calls the female staff's attitudes "transphobic" multiple times in the paper.
As per the most recent data available on the KPSS official website, there are 11 trans-identified inmates in Scotland, 10 of which are men who identify as women.
KPSS notes that "there are no routinely collected data published on the number of transgender prisoners held in Scottish prisons, nor whether they are accommodated in the male or female estates."
The group also states that information they'd gathered in October of 2021 revealed that "the Scottish Prison Service is now collecting data only by gender identity," meaning biological sex is no longer recorded, regardless of if a biologically male inmate who identifies as transgender is even legally recognized as such.
The recent changes in how data is recorded has led to some concerns amongst women's rights groups. In November of 2021, KPSS director Dr. Kate Coleman noted that multiple male sex offenders had been moved into women's institutions in Scotland.
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