In Brief

Calls for reform after trans woman found dead in male prison

Vicky Thompson told friends she would commit suicide if she was sent to all-male prison in Leeds

A transgender woman has been found dead after being sent to an all-male prison in Yorkshire.

Vicky Thompson was found unresponsive at HMP Leeds last Friday after telling family and friends that she would kill herself if she was sent there. 

West Yorkshire police say they are not treating her death as suspicious, but the Prison Service has launched an investigation into the incident.

Thompson was given a 12-month jail term in August which was suspended for 24 months. She later reportedly breached the terms of her sentence and was remanded in custody at Bradford Crown Court.

The 21-year old was born male, but had lived her entire teenage and adult life as a woman. Her boyfriend, Robert Steele, said she had suffered abuse from other inmates while incarcerated.

"She didn't like it in there because people were saying things to her because she was dressing as a female," he told the BBC.

Her death has promoted calls for the urgent reform of prison rules regarding trans inmates. Cat Smith, the shadow minister for Women and Equalities, described Thompson's death as "devastating".

"Guidelines [on where to send trans prisoners] are either not being implemented properly or they are not fit for purpose and I intend to find out which it is," she said, according to The Guardian

Thompson's death comes less than a month after another transgender woman, Tara Hudson, was forced to return to an all-male prison.

Hudson's case sparked a campaign to have her moved to a women's facility, with LGBT groups warning that the 26-year-old, who is from Bath, was at risk of sexual violence. She has since been transferred to a female prison.

The news also coincides with the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honours those who have been killed as a result of hate crimes.

"Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice," campaigners say. "This trend shows no sign of abating."

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