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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Petition Urges CA Gov. Newsom to Protect Women, Veto Gender Identity Incarceration

In an effort to protect incarcerated women in the state of California, the Women’s Liberation Front has launched a petition campaign to urge Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto a bill that allows biological men who want to live as women, or transgender women, to be housed in women’s prisons. 

“LAST CHANCE TO OBJECT! Please add your name to this petition urging Governor Newsom to REJECT SB 132, a bill that will allow men who claim to identify as women to be placed in women’s jails and prisons,” the WLF tweeted on Friday.

The bill posted online states:

This bill would require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to, during initial intake and classification, and in a private setting, ask each individual entering into the custody of the department to specify the individual’s gender identity whether the individual identifies as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex, and their gender pronoun and honorific. The bill would prohibit the department from disciplining a person for refusing to answer or not disclosing complete information in response to these questions. The bill would authorize a person under the jurisdiction of the department to update this information. The bill would prohibit staff, contractors, and volunteers of the department from failing to consistently use the gender pronoun and honorific an individual has specified in verbal and written communications with or regarding that individual that involve the use of a pronoun or honorific.

The bill would require the department, for a person who is transgender, nonbinary, or intersex to only conduct a search of that person according to the search policy for their gender identity or according to the gender designation of the facility where they are housed, based on the individual’s search preference. The bill would additionally require the department to house the person in a correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual’s preference, except as specified.

The petition text reads, in part:

Please commit to veto SB 132, which will allow male prisoners to demand placement in women’s correctional facilities, and to be searched by female corrections officers. 

Corrections officials in Illinois are already facing a suit from a female prisoner alleging that she was raped by a trans-identified male prisoner, who was transferred to her facility under a gender identity policy. In Texas, incarcerated women sued the state over being forced to shower with men allowed to be there over claims of being transgender, and being forced to endure their lewd threats. How many such suits do California officials want to face? 

What about when a male prisoner overwhelms female corrections officers assigned to guard other incarcerated women? 

Female corrections officers also don’t deserve to be forced to body search male inmates, at the whim of men who may be highly dangerous, manipulative offenders. Even without a history of sexual offense, this is an obvious loophole by which an incarcerated man can seek inappropriate contact with an unwilling woman. Each such request denied will also require corrections staff to generate a paper trail shared with the prisoner, and each such request granted creates a potential rights violation against a female corrections officer; the state risks lawsuits coming and going.

While it’s laudable that the legislature wants to address the problem of sexual torture in men’s corrections, it’s wrong to do so by letting some men opt out and carry the issue to lower-security women’s facilities. They should try to directly fix the problem in men’s facilities, for all of the men there. No prison sentence should include sexual torture that’s preventable by state authorities.

SB 132 creates new dangers for incarcerated women and female prison staff, and opens the state to massive liabilities. Please don’t set in motion a chain of preventable disasters and potential tragedies.

The bill has been delivered to Newsom’s desk.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter



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