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Derek Sinden, transgender prisoner
No drugs for transgender prisoner

in AUSTRALIA, 20/07/2012

A transgender prisoner at Ipswich has lost an anti-discrimination case he lodged after being refused access to female hormone drugs.

Derek Sinden, who identifies as Thalia, says he would often dress in female clothing, wear girl's clothes to school, wear make-up and read women's magazines in his early teenage years.

He said he became involved in the transgender community when he moved to Sydney but immersed himself in drugs, drinking and sexual activities with men to cope with his identity issues.

The now 42-year-old, who was jailed for the third time in 1999, wants to begin the process to change his sexual identity.

Wolston Correctional Centre, at Wacol, allowed him to take a drug to block male hormone production but not in combination with a female hormone drug.

Queensland's Corrections Department has argued its decision to refuse treatment was not discriminatory but consistent with its transgender policy.

Its policy allows hormone treatment in prison if it began before the prisoner entered the facility but they could not begin it while in jail.

Dr Gale Bearman, from the Transgender Clinic, told the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal that a transgender state was "a miserable one" without proper treatment and the suicide rate was high, especially coupled with Sinden's indigenous background.

Custodial operations deputy commissioner Marlene Morrison told the tribunal prison was not an appropriate environment to embark on such a life-changing decision.

She said prisoners were removed from community, work and support networks that should be relied on in making such an important decision.

Ms Morrison said people became institutionalised and their choices made in a prison environment might differ from those made outside.

Senior member Richard Oliver found the department did not treat Sinden less favourably than another prisoner and therefore did contravene the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.

He said if someone took a different view in an appeal process, he assessed compensation at $20,000.

"There is no opportunity, really, to live as a woman and that in itself creates problems for (Sinden) in that there would be prisoners who are less understanding ... and this could result in exposure to ridicule and even assault," he said.

"This then impacts negatively on the individual's overall wellbeing and safety.

"It may also entice other prisoners to engage in behaviour that might have the potential to threaten security."

While every care is taken to use a trans person's preferred pronouns, this article has defaulted to the pronouns used in the court report in the absence of input from Thalia Sinden.

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