California transgender inmates are claiming that the state’s prison officials are refusing to “fully implement” a law that would allow them to transfer to prisons of the opposite sex. An attorney for the group says the officials “regularly violate” the law.
The original law, SB132, took effect in 2021. The law has already been challenged in federal court last November by the Women’s Liberation Front on behalf of four female inmates who argue the measure endangers biologically female prisoners by allowing men to pose as women.
The suit also claims the law violates the female inmates’ freedom of speech and religion and their right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment by requiring them to treat the male inmates as women.
“The reality that men and women are factually, materially, immutably different, in ways that disadvantage women and necessitate attention to women’s unique needs, supports protection of incarcerated women by providing women-only correctional facilities,” the lawsuit states.
National Review reports:
Inmates have filed at least 321 requests for transfers based on gender identity since the law took effect, but the Corrections Department has granted only 46 of those requests, Portnoi wrote in a filing. Some of those who have had their requests approved have not been moved, he said.
The filing added that one of the transgender inmates was often called a “boy” by prison guards and another was placed in a cell with a man who was a known sexual assailant, who then assaulted the inmate.
The Corrections Department writes on its website that all inmate requests for transfers under SB132 are subject to an “in-depth review” by a committee of prison guards and health care staff led by a warden. The site says transfer may be denied due to “management or security concerns” but not for “discriminatory reasons.”
The department affirmed its commitment to “providing a safe, humane, respectful, and rehabilitative environment for all incarcerated persons,” including transgender inmates, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Women’s Liberation Front’s legal director Lauren Adams again pushed back against the law following the new filing this week.
“This law has already subjected incarcerated women to sexual assault, abuse and intimidation, in addition to the constant indignity of having to shower, undress and use the toilet in front of men,” Adams said. “The ACLU, Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center have the nerve to call women ‘bigots’ when they object.”
National Review adds the filing comes after a male inmate identifying as a woman was convicted last month of raping a female prisoner at the women’s facility at the Rikers Island complex in New York.