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HK Magazine Archive

Abuse, Assault and No Hormones: Transgender Woman's Allegations Challenge Prison Policy

A request for judicial review will proceed to a substantive hearing.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 February, 2016, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:56pm

A transgender woman’s request for judicial review to challenge the detention policies of transgender prisoners will proceed to a substantive hearing on August 8, according to her lawyer.

In June 2014, a 20-year-old transgender woman was sentenced for simple drug charges, and now alleges a string of sexual assault and inhuman treatments against her while in detention. The request for judicial review was filed in January 2015.

The woman was sent to Pik Uk Correctional Institution, a maximum security male prison in Sai Kung, where she claims she was given an examination by a male doctor in an open room while several correctional officers stood by and ridiculed her.

Her lawyer, Patricia Ho, says the woman’s hormones were cut off starting from the time of the arrest—she had been taking them since she was 12—and she grew an Adam’s apple she’d never had before. The woman was later transferred to the maximum security Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre until mid-July last year. She was able to restart her hormone treatment in mid-March, months after the application for judicial review.

The woman claims that at both the police station and Siu Lam, other men in custody masturbated in front of her and sexually assaulted her. At Siu Lam, where she was kept briefly in solitary confinement and told to use the male toilets, she alleges she was followed into the bathroom and sexually assaulted. Leave to apply for the judicial review was granted on August 18, 2015 after her release.

Hong Kong’s policy for assigning transgender criminals to prisons is based on the sex listed on the convict’s identification card.