​trans woman vicky thompson found dead in all-male prison

Despite happening a week ago, the news broke out today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

by Tish Weinstock
20 November 2015, 1:45pm

Last Friday evening, 21-year-old Vicky Thompson was found dead in an all-male prison, after warning friends she would kill herself if sent there, the Daily Mail reports. Despite identifying as a woman since she was a teenager, authorities refused -- on supposed legal grounds -- to move Vicky to an all-female prison because she had not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery. She was finishing serving out her 12 month sentence for an undisclosed crime at Armley prison in Leeds. The new of her death comes on Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.

A few weeks ago, after a long and well-publicized campaign, another transgender woman, Tara Hudson, was moved from an all-male prison to an all-female prison. "Prisoners are normally placed according to their legally recognized gender," explained Caroline Dinenage, Junior Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice. "However, the guidelines allow some room for discretion and senior prison staff will review the circumstances of every case in consultation with medical and other experts in order to protect the physical and emotional well being of the person concerned along with the safety and wellbeing of other prisoners."

2015 has been a significant year for the trans community: not only did Bruce Jenner come out as trans and announce herself as Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair, but figures such as Laverne Cox, Andreja Pejic, Ines Rau, Jazz Jennings, Hari Nef, and Valentijn De Hingh are all being celebrated as mainstream cultural figures. Hollywood is also putting the spotlight on trans issues with films such as About Ray and The Danish Girl hitting the silver screen next year.

But, away from the bright lights of celebrity stardom -- as the devastating loss of Vicky Thompson attests -- the reality is quite different. Discrimination against the trans community remains rampant, while suicide rates are at an all time high, suggesting we still have a long way to go.

vicky thompson