Men's prison for transgender woman
Thursday 20 Dec 2012 10:40 a.m.
A transgender woman will have to serve time in a men's prison, but the judge who handed down the sentence says her inability to begin hormone treatment while in custody is appalling.
Glen Cooper was sentenced on Wednesday in Whangarei District Court to two years and one month in prison.
She pleaded guilty in September to a charge of wounding with intent to injure over an incident in January where she struck a man on the head with a wine bottle during an argument.
Cooper's lawyer Kelly Ellis told NZ Newswire Judge David Harvey allowed a 15 percent discount on the sentence in recognition of the harassment Cooper will face in an all-male prison.
Cooper had earlier been attacked in prison and she now locks herself in her cell for 23 hours a day, "just to be safe", Ms Ellis said.
"It's not about special treatment, it's about getting equal treatment. Transgender prisoners have an equal right to safety in the prison," she said.
Judge Harvey also labelled a Department of Corrections policy of refusing to allow transgender prisoners to initiate hormone treatment as appalling.
The policy of denying medical treatment for a recognised medical condition is cruel and inhumane, Ms Ellis said.
Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment Kim Workman told Radio New Zealand Cooper's human rights are being breached and housing her in a men's prison puts her at considerable risk.
He's suggested there needs to be a special facility for transgender prisoners.
Cooper will be eligible for parole after serving a third of her sentence.