Trans Rights Are Human Rights
Sensitive Needs US Federal Prison System

Does the BOP’s New Prison Policy Endanger Transgender Inmates?

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has been warned that its new policy of housing transgender inmates with other prisoners will be counter-productive and dangerous.

A coalition of more than 100 civil rights organizations has written to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) asking it to reverse a new prison policy that could put transgender inmates at serious risks.

The letter, addressed to Acting Director of BOP, Hugh J. Hurwitz, and dated June 19 warned that the Trump administration will achieve no good with the federal prison system unless the offensive policy is repealed or modified.

OITNB Transgender Inmate Sophia Burset helps us understand the dangers they suffer in prisons.
OITNB Transgender Inmate Sophia Burset helps us understand the dangers they suffer in prisons. Image Source: Caroline Gasparini

New BOP Policy Puts Transgenders at Risk of Sexual Abuse

According to the new prison policy, inmates should be assigned to facilities based on their assigned gender at birth and not on their current gender identity. To this extent, males who present as transgender females are housed among male prisons in total disregard to their current legal gender.

This has placed transgender inmates in harms way when housed with genders of the opposite sex, a development human rights advocates find harmful and unconstitutional.

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Multiple transgenders have been assaulted and sexually abused when housed with the opposite sex, with some suffering fatally during such incarceration.

Meanwhile, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) recognizes that the best way to prevent sexual violence in prison systems is to safeguard vulnerable prisoners from factors and situations that predispose them to sexual abuse and harassment. The advocates wrote to Hurwitz:

“Transgender prisoners will unquestionably suffer serious harm if this policy is implemented as written.

Worse, the policy exposes transgender prisoners in your custody to the well-documented, unacceptable and extremely heightened risk of sexual abuse by both staff and other prisoners, which not only violates PREA – it also violates the Constitution.”

Trans Rights Are Human Rights
Trans Rights Are Human Rights. Image Source: Common Dreams

New Prison Policy Sends Clear Message of Disrespect, Discrimination & Disregard to Transgenders

During former President Obama’s administration, there were protections in place to protect transgender inmates from straight prisoners. The protections included housing transgenders differently from straight inmates in different cells or facilities.

But the Trump camp removed this protection, causing transgenders to be exposed to prison dangers and violence in stark violation of human rights provisions and the Constitution.

The BOP actually removed the prison protections transgenders enjoyed by modifying the Transgender Offender Manual. This was after some evangelical Christian women filed a lawsuit to fight housing transgender women with inmates assigned female at birth.

Basic Rights for Inmates: Ever Heard of the Transgender Offender Manual?

The American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative, Ian Thompson, stated that the new prison housing policy is unfair and biased against transgender folks. He revealed the bigoted policy:

…sends a clear message of disrespect, discrimination, and disregard that we know will have serious implications for the safety of transgender people in federal prison.

Visit Your Transgender Loved One in Prison

Charles Omedo
Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.