Monday, October 18, 2021

Prisons offered guides on correct pronouns

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By Michael McAndrew, BBC News

Prisoners in Merseyside have learned to use the correct pronouns in a bid to stop them getting picked on. HM Inspectorate of Prisons has released a guide to help inmates use the correct pronouns for men, women and people in other genders. The problem affects thousands of prisons around the UK and the guide is the first of its kind to be issued. The minimum prison sentence is 14 days in Merseyside. Last year, 1,170 prisoners in HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes were referred to using the wrong pronouns in their identity documents. This was a 48% increase from 2008-9. ‘The right thing to do’ In the guide, prisoners are told to stop using term which makes assumptions about gender, such as “she”, “he” or “heir”. It is often the first step on a longer process to address the issue using a range of agencies to tackle it together. One inmate from the Wirral has told her story to be able to talk about the issue. Barry, who is bisexual, said: “As a prisoner, a male prisoner, it really does bother me. “I don’t know how the prisoners in HMP Liverpool and HMP Merseyside were even thinking about gender. “It was probably just a shock or something like that because it seems just strange to use a male pronoun. “I just try to pretend it doesn’t bother me, but I can see how it can affect you in a lot of ways. ‘You can be ostracised if people know you identify as a man or woman.” Ian, a patient manager at HMP Merseyside, explained that “gender neutral” badges have now been introduced so that prisoners can display their proper pronouns. He added: “I think it is the right thing to do. “It is the law. It is the same as if someone were to be to put their name and surname on a card, or if they were to put their bra size on a body scanner. “The prisoner rights group, Sex Discrimination Action Group, have been working with HM Prison Service to help these staff members find ways to better understand and address issues of self-identification, and include more of this in their training.” They have given us an armful of new ribbons and T-shirts to wear with our banners and lots of cardboard banners

Giselle, Merseyside Prisoners on Merseyside have also been trained to discuss gender identity and sexual orientation and appear in a new advert. The community outreach programme Be A Man, Be A Woman, Be A Woman has also been set up to try to change perceptions of who can be locked up. One prisoner from Liverpool has told the BBC: “They are trying to help us with the issue by having a female officer with us to talk about femininity and embracing and learning how to self identify and who we are. “They have given us an armful of new ribbons and T-shirts to wear with our banners and lots of cardboard banners.”

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