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Individual rights & freedoms

Human rights and discrimination

Going to prison

Prison Operations Manual, Induction I10, Movements M.03–04

If you are trans and going to prison, prison staff must meet with you to discuss how to best support your needs. This meeting must happen within three days of you arriving.

If prison staff have access to your birth certificate, they will place you in a prison that matches the sex on your birth certificate. If this isn’t right, you can request to be moved to a prison that better suits your gender or sex (see below).

If you have a sex marker on your birth certificate that isn’t M or F, the prison will automatically review your placement. You don’t need to put in a formal request for this.

For more information, see: “Transgender and non-binary people”.

How do I request to be in the right prison for my gender or sex?

If the sex marker on your birth certificate isn’t right, you can request to be moved to the right prison for your gender or sex.

If you make this request, you should be given an “Application for review of prisoner’s placement” form to complete.

If you need help filling out the form, you should ask the prison staff for assistance. The Prisons Operations Manual states that the staff have to help if you need support filling out the form.

The prison director will consider your request and approve or deny it. If you aren’t happy with the decision, you can lodge a complaint with the Inspector or the Ombudsman. The prison should provide you with details of how to do this.

If you have convictions for sexual offences, you can’t request to be transferred to a prison for the sex you were convicted of offending against.

What if I’m non-binary or intersex?

If you have a sex marker on your birth certificate that isn’t M or F, your placement will automatically be reviewed.

This will happen whether or not you have been convicted of sexual offences.

If you’re non-binary or intersex but your birth certificate doesn’t show this, you can still ask for a review. The Prison Operations Manual says that “A person’s ability to identify with a particular gender, or no gender, must be respected.”

What if I requested to change prisons, but I want to change back?

Just as you have the right to request to change your prison placement, you can request to change back or change again if you find that placement in your requested prison is less safe for you.

What are my rights to gender-affirming healthcare in prison?

If you’re in prison, you should have the same access to healthcare as people who aren’t in prison.

You should be able to access hormones and other gender-affirming care as usual. If you’re on a waitlist for surgery, being in prison and transferring between prisons can disrupt this process, as your contact details and location will change. If you’re in prison and on a surgery waitlist, make sure your healthcare provider is updated with your placement, so they can continue to support you through the process. For more information, see: “Gender-affirming healthcare”.

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Gender and sexuality

Where to go for more support

Legal information

“Lag Law: Your Rights Inside Prison and on Remand” booklet

This booklet contains practical answers to common questions relating to prisoner rights, including transgender rights in prison. A useful guide for people going to prison, in prison, or getting out of prison and their whānau.

Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley

Phone: (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz

Visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free

Rainbow Rights


Rainbow Rights is a website developed by Rainbow Youth and YouthLaw (a Community Law Centre) to provide legal information about rights for LQBTIQ young people.

Legislation NZ


This has all of New Zealand’s current Acts and regulations.

Law Society

To find a lawyer


(04) 472 7837

Gender Minorities Aotearoa


Phone: (04) 385 0611

Mobile: 02040492568

GMA maintains a national database of transgender, takatāpui, and intersex information, resources, and links.




InsideOUT is a national organisation that provides workshops, resources and support to help make schools, community organisations and workplaces inclusive for rainbow people.

Rainbow Youth


(09) 376 4155

RainbowYOUTH provides a number of services for queer and gender-diverse youth and their wider communities all across Aotearoa.



Genderbridge is a peer-to-peer transgender community organisation providing support to transgender and gender-diverse people, their whānau and friends throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Naming NZ


Naming NZ is an organisation to help transgender, gender-diverse and intersex youth with updating their identity documents to correctly reflect their sex and gender. Naming NZ can only provide financial assistance to youth in the Wellington region.

Government departments, agencies and courts

Department of Internal Affairs


0800 25 78 87

The Department of Internal Affairs processes applications to legally change your name.

Family Court


0800 268 787 or (04) 918 8800

The Family Court make decisions about applications to change your sex on your birth certificate.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

International Surrogacy – Fact sheet


Human Rights Commission


You can contact the Human Rights Commission if you want to know more about discrimination and human rights, or if you want to complain about discrimination:

0800 496 877 or text 0210 236 4253


“To Be Who I Am”, 2007 Report of the Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People is available on the HRC website

Human Rights Commission Intersex Roundtable


NZ Transport Agency


0800 822 422

The NZTA deals with changes to drivers’ licences, including changing your name or gender on your driver’s licence.

Ministry of Health

Guidance for health professionals


Gender affirming surgery


Health and Disability Advocacy Service


The Health and Disability Advocacy Service can provide a free advocate to help you make a complaint about a health or disability service.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Guide about Transgender Employees


Department of Corrections

Placement of transgender prisoners

You can read their policy (Movements M.03.05) relating to placement of transgender prisoners on their website, at:


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