SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A women’s rights group is suing the state for repealing a new law requiring prisons to place transgender and gender neutral inmates in facilities that match their gender identity, alleging the practice puts incarcerated people at risk.
The Women’s Liberation Front filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California last week on behalf of several women incarcerated and a group, Woman II Woman, who advocates for incarcerated women.
Two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, both women in custody, allege having been sexually abused by inmates who identify as transgender or non-binary.
The lawsuit states that one of the alleged assaults took place after the law went into effect, while the other alleged assault does not indicate when it occurred.
Several of the plaintiffs say they have been victims of domestic violence in the past. Several of the plaintiffs also cite their religious beliefs, which they believe are compromised by being in custody with transgender women.
Amie Ichikawa of the Woman II Woman group said she was shocked when she first read the law that later became law, adding that she was not alone.
“We have had so many calls, letters, various messages from women who feel they have been forgotten, completely left out,” said Ichikawa.
Ichikawa said she supports the safety of transgender women behind bars, but not in a way that allows sexual predators to slip under the umbrella of transgender identity.
“We want to make sure everyone is safe here,” said Ichikawa.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Tuesday that the department has not yet served the lawsuit and that the department is not commenting on any pending litigation.
“However, the department is committed to providing everyone in their care with a safe, humane, rehabilitative and protected environment. Federal and state laws impose legal obligations related to the treatment of individuals in custody with specific provisions for gender-inconsistent individuals. “said Thorton.
According to the department, 291 people in male prisons in the state have requested to be transferred to a female prison.
Of these, 41 transfer requests were approved, six rejected, 10 withdrawn and the rest is still under review by the department.
In addition, seven people detained in women’s facilities have applied for transfer to a men’s facility. All of these transfer requests are still under review.
Act author, Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, labeled the lawsuit and its proponents transphobic in its portrayal of transgender inmates as a potential threat. The California Family Council, a conservative group that campaigned against the law, also sponsored the lawsuit this week.
“Spreading out the trans community and claiming that basically all trans women are sexual predators is wrong, it is completely defamatory, but it is not the right playbook when it comes to attacks on trans people”, said Wiener.
Transgender inmates face well-documented hazards in prisons and prisons.
A 2015 National Inmate Survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that more than a third of transgender inmates in prisons and jails had experienced sexual assault by facility staff or other inmates over a year, according to a report by CBS news.
The Federal Office for Victims of Crime reports that 15% of transgender people report having been sexually abused while in detention, with the number of African American transgender people more than doubling to 32%.
(c) 2021 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California)
Visit the Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California) at www.sacbee.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.