Transgender prisoners are to start being assigned to the division that matches the gender on their legal documents regardless of their sex characteristics in line with a “transgender variant and intersex inmates policy” launched this morning.

To date, prisoners were admitted to the section which reflected the gender listed on their birth certificate, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela and Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli said.

They said that when an inmate was in transition or intended to start the transition process, he or she would have to make a declaration under oath to be admitted to the appropriate division.

A trans-inmate could be initially accommodated in separate facilities for an assessment but this could not last longer than seven days.

Rubdowns and searches would also be carried out by a prison official of the appropriate gender.

Staff would receive additional training and information on human diversity and gender identity.

Inmates would have the right to access the procedures of gender recognition, health services and mental health support.

Mr Abela said the policy was based on the values of equality, inclusion and recognition of diversity.

“Inmates lose their liberty while in this facility but they should not lose their dignity.”

The elements of the policy, he said, were either already in place or being implemented.

He referred to a court case filed by seven transgender inmates in July after being denied the right to live as females and being confined to the male section of the correctional facility.

The minister said they had now been moved to the female section.

Dr Dalli said the policy built on the work of the Gender Identity Act approved last year.

The law, she said, would not have meant anything without the appropriate policies in place to ensure protection of these rights.

“Nobody chooses how they’re born so nobody should be punished for this,” she said.

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