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“I’m not different, I’m still a human being […] but I am different.” An exploration of the experiences of transgender prisoners using interpretative phenomenological analysis

Joanne E. Nulty (Department of Psychology, HMP Whatton, Nottingham, UK)
Belinda Winder (Sexual Offences Crime and Misconduct Unit (SOCAMRU), Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Sally Lopresti (Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 10 April 2019

Issue publication date: 22 May 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The treatment and placement of transgender individuals within the UK prison system has garnered considerable political and media attention. The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of the experiences of three transgender women located within a male, category C prison in England.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants were interviewed and their accounts analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Findings

Three overarching themes emerged from the data set: participants’ experiences of transition; their identity within custody and the challenges associated with presenting as female within a male establishment; and what they perceived as their fight against the prison system which encompassed a fight for their rights alongside a daily struggle against harassment, victimisation and discrimination.

Research limitations/implications

Three participants were interviewed which impacts the generalisability of the findings. Implications link to the care and management of transgender prisoners.

Practical implications

The care and management of transgender prisoners is a complex issue. This paper contributes to the discussion on how best to support and care for this group of service users who are arguably amongst the most vulnerable within the prison system.

Social implications

Findings are discussed in relation to policy, management and safeguarding of transgender prisoners within the UK prison system. Recommendations are made regarding their placement and management in prison.

Originality/value

There are limited accounts from transgender prisoners regarding their experiences in prison. This paper aims to address that gap.

Keywords

Citation

Nulty, J.E., Winder, B. and Lopresti, S. (2019), "“I’m not different, I’m still a human being […] but I am different.” An exploration of the experiences of transgender prisoners using interpretative phenomenological analysis", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 97-111. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFP-10-2018-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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