Human Lives Human Rights: Should we put transgender women in the same prison as biological women? This is the new challenge women’s rights activists are trying to answer.
The issue received special attention during a recent episode of Fox News‘ Tucker Carlson Tonight, where a women’s rights expert criticized prison policies while presenting thought-provoking statistics.
Kara Dansky, of the U.S. Chapter of Women’s Human Rights Campaign, said women’s prisons that house biological males also report more cases of sexual assault.
In California, for example, a new policy allowed hundreds of biologically male prisoners to apply to be housed in women’s facilities, she warned.
“We approximate that 20 of them have been granted. There are 20 men being housed in women’s prisons now as far as we know – We suspect that none of the applications have been denied. We also know that in Washington state, approximately nine male convicted felons are being housed in a women’s prison,” Dansky reported.
“One of those men has been convicted of multiple murders of women, and another one of those men has been convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl. We know that in states all over this country, there are various policies for actual statutory laws on the books that allow for this, and in fact, mandate it.”
Dansky said “terrified” female inmates have contacted her organization asking for help. She added that a California women’s prison is now distributing condoms after an inmate got pregnant behind bars.
Meanwhile, there are other activists who think this is a no brainer- that transgender women should be held in women’s #prisons to stay safe from sexual assault in men’s prisons.
Jasmine Rose Jones, a legal assistant and a transgender woman, says from personal experience that despite being a biological male, people with her condition should be sent to women’s prisons upon committing crimes.
She was incarcerated in a men’s facility for much of the last 23 years, and she says she was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by male prisoners and abused by male correctional officers across multiple facilities throughout her multiple stints in custody.
In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Eighth Amendment grounds that failing to protect trans people in custody is unconstitutional because it qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.
A similar case was also recently taken to the High Court in the UK, where it ruled against a woman who was raped by a trans woman in jail.
The female prisoner, known only as FDJ, had challenged the Ministry of Justice over aspects of the law that allows trans women to be housed in women’s prisons.
She claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a trans prisoner but the MoJ did not say whether it accepted this alleged incident had taken place.
The judge ruled barring all trans women from female prisons would ignore their right to live as their chosen gender.
The MoJ argued the policy pursued a legitimate aim, including “facilitating the rights of transgender people to live in and as their acquired gender (and) protecting transgender people’s mental and physical health.”
By Phil Simmons