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School of Law

Rights and Wrongs: sex-based and trans rights in the context of female prisons

When: Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 1:00 PM - 2:45 PM
Where: Online/Room 313, Third Floor, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS (via Westfield Way)

The Centre for Law, Democracy and Society are delighted to host this talk is on Rights and Wrongs: sex-based and trans rights in the context of female prisons presented by Professor Jo Phoenix, University of Reading.


It is nearly 200 years since the 1823 Gaols Act segregated prisoners by sex. The original rationale for doing so was a pragmatic solution to the experiences of sexual victimisation that women experienced in mixed sex prisons as well as underpinned by a recognition of the different (to men) needs of women prisoners. Now, two centuries later, profound socio-cultural changes have driven increased recognition (and rights) of gender identity and gender expression and created new challenges for institutions organised by sex segregation. This presentation looks at the case of female prisons. It outlines current policies and practices concerning prison placement policy for transgender prisoners (with and without GRCs). It reviews the arguments for turning female prisons into mixed prisons (for and against) and argues that the current way of balancing rights against risks is problematic.

Speaker Profile

Professor Phoenix researches sex, gender, sexualities and justice, youth justice and punishment, the production of criminological knowledge and research ethics. She has studied and written about a wide variety of subjects including managerialism and ethics in the production of criminological knowledge, prostitution, prostitution policy reform, child sexual exploitation, youth penality and youth justice practice and policy. Her most recent research concerns academic freedom, politics ethics and research and sex, gender, gender identity and criminal justice policy. Professor Phoenix has expertise in qualitative research methodologies and in analyzing criminal justice policy implementation and practice change in complex social organisations. She has been and remains particularly interested in understanding the changing conditions in which (some) women and (some) young people are criminalised and punished as well as the challenges facing those people who work with them.

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