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Israel refused trans woman transfer to women’s prison, cited ‘appearance’

CM 09/04/2021

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A transgender woman who was placed in a men’s prison had her transfer request to a women’s prison denied by Israel’s prison service, on the basis of the woman’s “masculine appearance,” despite a doctor affirming that she should be treated as a woman and that she had only stopped her hormone treatment due to an allergic reaction, Haaretz reported on Thursday. 
According to the report, the woman was eventually transferred on Thursday to the Neveh Tirtza women’s prison from the Nitzan men’s prison, but only after spending a total 15 days in isolation – in violation of prison service regulations – and appealing her case to the Supreme Court.
The woman’s doctor wrote to Haaretz that she has in the past been on a medical regimen of testosterone blockers and estrogen, but was forced to suspend treatment with one hormone after a suspected allergic reaction.
Her lawyer said that during her time at Nitzan, she experienced repeated harassment from other prisoners on the basis of her gender identity, things she would not have received in a women’s prison.
She was arrested on March 22 for allegedly trying to extort money from ultra-Orthodox men who had sex with prostitutes in Tel Aviv along with multiple accomplices. She denies the charges.
Prison service regulations for trans women requires them to sleep in isolation for the first 5 days of their prison detention, after which the service decides where to jail the prisoner more permanently.
Their placement is determined, among other things, by “their appearance and the way the prisoner identifies themselves given the stage of gender identity assignment – and with the necessary and appropriate sensitivity,” according to the Haaretz report.

If the woman has completer her gender reassignment process, regulations would require she be sent to a woman’s prison. However, this leaves a large grey area regarding woman who are jailed during their transition, women who can’t fully comply with the necessary hormone regimen or women who choose not to comply with it.
While the woman was initially placed in isolation at Neveh Tirza, she was transferred to Nitzan after 5 days in what the prison service deemed an “informed decision.”
A lawyer which was provided to the woman was informed of the situation two days later at a hearing to extend her detention, in which the judge agreed with him on the need to move her back to Neveh Tirza. 
However, Michael Avitan, a legal advisor for the prison service, appealed against the judges decision, saying that moving the woman was “not appropriate for his needs,” and “wasn’t possible.”
Avitan delayed the proceedings for an additional two days, before the woman’s lawyer appealed to the Supreme Court.
She was officially transferred on Thursday to Neveh Tirza. The prison service has said they have decided to let her remain.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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