Trans woman jailed for explosives offence wins legal right to change gender

Four-year legal battle with Ministry of Justice ends

Harriet Agerholm
Tuesday 16 October 2018 14:41 BST
The woman began formal action against Justice Secretary David Gauke in 2014
The woman began formal action against Justice Secretary David Gauke in 2014 (Reuters)

A father-of-seven who lives as a woman and was jailed for possessing explosives has won the right to be recognised as female.

The woman began formal action against Justice Secretary David Gauke in 2014, after a specialist panel said she did not satisfy the terms of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and refused to approve her application.

Following an appeal, a judge has now ordered the woman – referred to only as Ms Jay – be granted a gender recognition certificate.

Earlier this year, the Family Division of the High Court heard Ms Jay had “transitioned” a decade ago and made series of applications to a specialist tribunal called the Gender Recognition Panel.

In a written ruling, Lord Justice Baker said Ms Jay had experienced a “number of problems in her life”.

The woman, who has been married three times, was convicted of obtaining explosives with intent to endanger life and given an eight-year jail term in 2011.

She made her first application to the Gender Recognition Panel in 2014 before being released from prison on licence in 2015, according to the ruling.

After considering the evidence and relevant legislation, the judge decided Ms Jay’s case “manifestly satisfied” criteria set out in gender recognition legislation.

The woman had difficulties complying with “directions” partly because of her “status as a prisoner”, the judge ruled, adding that he was satisfied that her appeal should be allowed.

According to a government survey, there are 125 transgender prisoners in England and Wales, although the Ministry of Justice says the number is likely to be higher.

It can take more than five years for a trans person to obtain a gender recognition certificate and the system has been criticised by LGBT+ rights campaigners for being unnecessarily complex.

The government has launched a consultation in England and Wales, ending next week, that will consider how to improve the process.

Some warn a change in the law will make it easier for men to claim they identify as women in order to transfer to women’s jails even if they are not genuine. Others argue forcing trans women to remain in male prisons leave them vulnerable to attack.

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