In California, two hundred sixty-one (261) prisoners have requested transfers to facilities that house the opposite gender. Male prisoners requesting a transfer to a female facility is two hundred fifty-five (255).
The law, SB132, went into effect on January 1, 2021. The law applies “regardless of anatomy.” Governor Gavin Newsom signed the law last September, declaring on that occasion that “our march toward equality takes an additional step forward.” The law provides that a prisoner who self-identifies who is “transgender, nonbinary, or intersex” must be “addressed in a manner consistent with the incarcerated individual’s gender identity” and be “housed at a correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual’s preference.
Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that a few of the transfers had been approved, none have yet been rejected.
Just over 1% of California’s prison population — or 1,129 inmates — have identified as nonbinary, intersex, or transgender, according to the corrections department, populations that experience excessive violence in prison. A 2007 UC Irvine study that included interviews with 39 transgender inmates found that the rate of sexual assault is 13 times higher for transgender people, with 59% reporting experiencing such encounters.
So far, the prison system has transferred four inmates to the Chowchilla women’s prison, approved 21 gender-based housing requests, and denied none. Of the 261 requests, all but six asked to be housed at a women’s facility.
Some prisoners are also concerned that inmates are making false claims about their gender identity in order to transfer to women’s prisons, and say staffers have told them that this has slowed the process.
Last month women’s groups in Canada, under protest, urged the biological men be removed from women’s prison facilities.