Gwynedd, North Wales, UK – A man who identifies as a woman claims he lived in fear while serving time in a prison for men, and now fights for increased attention to the plight of transgender inmates.
Jessica Hughes, who dubbed himself “Barbie,” has a history of violent attacks against women. At age 18, Mr Hughes head-butted a woman. In 2015, at the age of 23, he served six months in prison for biting another woman.
In each of the incidents, he blamed the women.
Mr Hughes, who was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age 13, sought to serve his six-month sentence in a women’s prison, but a judge denied his request. He was instead sent to Altcourse Prison in Liverpool, a men’s facility, where he says he was denied medication for his bipolar disorder and feminizing hormones for his gender dysphoria.
The time in men’s prison really “freaked” Mr Hughes out, he said. “I got a lot of men staring at me. They’d look me up and down like they were perving me – looking at my boobs, face, a*** and legs,” he later recalled. “I got men shouting ‘get your t**s out’ and asking what knickers I was wearing. One man even asked me to perform a sex act on him.”
There were two other transgender inmates in the prison, but they were not bothered, because “they’d look terrible,” Mr Hughes said, bragging, “I don’t look like a man and I made an effort with my looks.”
Mr Hughes said he feared he’d be raped, but leveraged his looks to turn the tide in his own favor. He flirted with the other inmates, befriending and entering relationships with them:
I used my femininity to get through to them and went up to the top dog with my top pulled down showing off my boobs a little bit. They started to respect me … and I had a few relationships with some of them while in prison. They protected me after that. … if anyone started on me or tried to attack me, they’d stand up for me.
The men he befriended showed him the ropes, giving him the “who’s who” rundown, and advising him on who to avoid.
The former inmate now says that transgender prisoners, particularly those like him who identify as women and are serving time in men’s facilities, should be monitored at all times. “I should have had some sort of care plan in place because lots of transgender men and women also suffer from things like depression and anxiety. We shouldn’t be just left alone to get on with it.”
“Barbie” now offers free make-up tutorials to men who newly identify as transgender women.
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