Transgender inmates in California will now be housed according to their gender identity thanks to a new law signed Saturday by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA). The law states that prison officers must privately ask inmates going through the intake process if they identify as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex. If the inmate indicates one of those identities, they will be allowed to request a move to the facility that houses their preferred gender.
There is a caveat to the new law, however. If the state has “management or security concerns,” it will provide a written explanation of why it denied an inmate the chance to be housed according to his or her gender identity. The inmate will be given a “meaningful opportunity” to object, The Associated Press reported.
“The law says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation cannot deny those requests solely because of inmates’ anatomy, sexual orientation or ‘a factor present’ among other inmates at the facility,” the outlet reported.
In addition to being housed with their gender identity, prison officers are also required to address the inmates according to their preferred pronouns and must search inmates “based on the search policy of their gender identity,” the AP reported.
This exception is not included because the state believes men will claim to be women in order to harm female inmates, but because it believes male inmates will attack biological women who identify as men.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill signed by Newsom, said transgender people are the ones who are routinely victimized in prison.
“It’s just a false narrative about transgender people and about transgender women in particular that they’re somehow not really women and are just trying to scam their way into women’s bathrooms or facilities in order to do bad things,” Wiener told the AP. “Overwhelmingly the people who are being victimized are trans people.”
One inmate who identifies as a woman, Michelle Calvin, said during a news conference (Calvin called in) to claim they had been abused and disrespected for being a transgender woman.
“I’ve been in for 15 years. I’ve been through the abuse, I’ve been through the disrespect of staff not addressing me for who I am because I am a woman,” Calvin said.
California prison systems will have to be very careful when it comes to housing transgender inmates. In 2018, The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo reported, a “biologically male criminal who identifies as female and has yet to have reassignment surgery was allowed to stay in a women’s prison to serve his sentence.” The transgender inmate was then “accused of sexually assaulting or harassing four female prisoners.”
The Blaze reported at the time:
The first assault allegedly occurred soon after White arrived at the high-security prison. The first victim claimed to have become friends with White before the attack.
Another prisoner alleged that White made inappropriate comments about oral sex to another inmate.
The third victim claimed White attacked her, and the fourth victim accused the transgender prisoner of kissing her on the neck.