20 Dec 2012

Transgender person sent to men's jail

8:53 am on 20 December 2012

A Whangarei transgender person seeking treatment to become a woman has been sent to a men's prison to do time despite her pleas.

Glen Cooper was convicted on a serious assault charge and had asked to be sent to a women's prison, saying she suffered continual sexual assault when locked up with men.

Judge Duncan Harvey sentenced Cooper in the Whangarei District Court on Wednesday to two years and one month in jail.

Cooper's lawyer Kelly Ellis says the sentence was shorter than it might have been because the judge allowed a 15% discount in recognition of the harassment Cooper will face in prison, and the fact that she will be denied the hormone treatment she wants while in jail.

Ms Ellis says Judge Harvey was powerless to do anything but send Cooper to a men's prison, acknowledging that sexual assault there was inevitable.

She says despite Corrections knowing transgender women are routinely assaulted it refuses to let them serve their time in a women's facility.

She says the fact that Judge Harvey described the lack of medical treatment for Cooper as appalling is a small win for transgender people in New Zealand.

Cooper is now in segregation and spends 23 hours in a cell, locked from the inside.