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Transgender inmate being held at Nova Institute

Nova Institute for Women
Nova Institute for Women

TRURO, N.S. – Inmates and their families are alarmed that a transgender prisoner has been allowed to stay in the Nova Institute for Women while transitioning to female.

Stephen Anderson, whose partner is currently serving time at the Nova Institute, said the prisoner remains there while undergoing 12 months of hormone therapy followed by a sex-change operation.

But the prisoner remains, for the time being, a male inside a female institution, according to Anderson.

He added that he had “no problems,” with homosexual or transgender people.

“Anybody can love anyone they choose,” said Anderson.

Rather, his main concern was jealous partners on the outside leaving their wives or girlfriends owing to the transgender inmate’s presence.

Anderson also said that another woman at the Nova Institute had Viagra, adding to his worries.

 “At least 50 per cent of those men will leave their partners because of it,” said Anderson.

However, he praised his own partner for being up front with him about the situation, saying “she backs me on any action.”

“This guy is in general population with other women,” said Anderson.

But Emma Brown, who runs a support group for local transgender people in Amherst, said Anderson’s statements revealed a need for education about transgender inmates.

“This is not a person pretending to be someone they’re not so they can get with the ladies,” said Brown. “This is someone who identifies as a woman in their mind and being.”

She added the inmate would be unsafe in a male prison that could include sex offenders.

While Brown appreciated the concerns that some may have, she said that inmates’ safety had to be guaranteed regardless of their crime.

Some accommodations, such as a separate shower area, could also be made to allay concerns.

“You need to respect who they are as a human being,” said Brown.

Correctional Service of Canada spokesperson Lori Halfper said in an email that her organization is committed to ensuring those inmates who identify as transgender are given the same protections, dignity and treatment as others.

“Because the Canadian Human Rights Act has been changed to add gender identity or expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, we are updating our policies to reflect our duty to accommodate an offender’s and/or staff member’s needs based on their self-identified gender or gender expression, regardless of their physical anatomy or the gender noted on their identification documents,” said Halfper.

The CSC is currently reviewing the HRA to determine how it will impact its operations and is consulting with external stakeholders, including organizations that advocate for the rights of LGBTQ2+ people.

“Until these policies are updated and in place, we will continue our current practice of assessing – on a case-by-case basis – each individual inmate’s placement and accommodation requests to ensure the most appropriate measures are taken to respect [their] dignity and rights,” said Halfper.




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