prison security cameras
© Reuters / Darren Staples
A female prisoner is suing the UK government in an effort to ban some trans women from all-female prisons, after claiming she was sexually assaulted by a biologically male inmate who had not undergone gender reassignment surgery.

A judicial review of the lawsuit, launched on Wednesday, will last about two days, and could overturn the government policy allowing biological men to be housed in women's prisons if they have procured a gender recognition certificate.

Before being placed in the Downview women's prison in Surrey, the alleged attacker was previously convicted of rape as a man, according to Keep Prisons Single Sex, a campaigning group supporting the claimant. Despite the past conviction, the trans woman was still placed in an all-female environment.

The legal action will specifically challenge the lawfulness of placing transgender women who have been convicted of sexual and violent offences in women's prisons.

The alleged victim's lawyers argue that biological men should be excluded from those spaces, regardless of provisions in the 2004 Gender Recognition Act allowing biological males to have acquired gender recognized.

The group's director, Kate Coleman, said that this is going to be "the first to challenge the Prison Service policy of housing transgender prisoners in the women's estate," adding, "It is accepted throughout the criminal justice system that female offenders respond best in female-only settings and services."