The Department of Justice has announced a new guidance for federal prisons allowing male inmates who identify as transgender to be housed with female inmates.
Although the Trump administration instructed prison officials to “use biological sex as the initial determination for designation” and to only place trans-identifying males in women’s facilities in “rare cases,” the Biden administration has stated that its goal is to “ensure the Bureau of Prisons … provides services to the transgender population.”
Under the new guidance, prison staff are required to undergo specialized training to enable them to “work effectively” with transgender prisoners.
Staff must refer to transgender inmates by their preferred names and pronouns. If a staff member repeatedly “mis-genders” an inmate, he or she will face disciplinary action.
In November, The Women’s Liberation Front, a women’s advocacy group, filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections in response to the state’s transfer of male inmates to women’s prisons. Gov. Gavin Newsom had signed a bill, known as SB 132 or the “The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act,” into law in September 2020, instructing the department to house inmates in a male or female correctional facility based on “the individual’s preference.”
California Family Council (CFC) also opposed the legislation.
“Everything we warned legislators about SB 132 is coming true,” said Greg Burt, CFC’s director of capitol engagement. “Women inmates are being assaulted and sexually harassed. [They] are being traumatized over violations of their privacy. Fear and dread now occupy the minds of every California female inmate, because our legislators and governor care more about the desires of trans-identified males than they do the safety of vulnerable women.”
On Jan. 12, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) introduced the Preventing Violence Against Female Inmates Act, a bill designed to prohibit the Bureau of Prisons from housing prisoners with inmates of the opposite sex.
“President Biden’s plan to house male and female prisoners together will put women in danger,” Cotton said in a statement. “Documented cases prove that placing men—including ones who ‘identify’ as female—in women’s prisons puts female inmates at increased risk of sexual assault. My bill will stop the president’s ill-conceived plan and keep men and women separated in federal prison.”
The bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.