California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law allowing transgendered inmates to be housed in prison based on their gender identity. The law mandates officers to ask inmates during the intake process if they identify as transgender, non-binary, or intersex, from which the inmates decide to be placed with either men or women.
The state cannot deny an inmate’s requests solely based on their anatomy, sexual orientation, or “a factor present” among other inmates at the facility. The only exception is if the state has “management or security concerns,” and if they deny a request, the state must write up a statement to the inmate with their reasoning as to why they denied the inmate’s request and also give the inmate an opportunity to object.
This law prioritizes the safety of trans inmates and must reassess where they’re housed if the inmate were to be concerned with their health and safety. The law also mandates officers to address inmates based on their pronoun preference.
The Governor signed multiple LGBTQ-related laws, including one law that establishes a Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund to provide grants to organizations supporting the transgender community.
Gov. Newsom released a statement addressing these laws, stating, ”These new laws will better help us understand COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community, establish a new fund to support our transgendered brothers and sisters and advance inclusive and culturally competent efforts that uphold the dignity of all Californians, regardless of who you are and who you love.”
New York City, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts all have similar laws in place for trans inmates.
The Realist Woman’s take:
This is an interesting story because the trans community is usually neglected in American politics and what Gov. Newsome did by signing this bill was show trans people that he sees them, is considering their needs in a vulnerable situation and he is mandating the state of California to not only see them for who they really are but he is mandating respect.
Incarceration in general is traumatic, and the least this state could do for trans people doing time is to allow them to be in a space where they feel the most themselves and feel as safe as one can in jail. So all in all this is a big deal, especially for trans women who are incarcerated as they tend to be attacked for being trans. The fund to be established for trans people is amazing and can go a long way in providing help and resources from some of the most neglected people in this state.