Life just got harder for transgender prisoners after the Trump administration revoked Obama-era guidance protecting them from rape and violence from other prisoners.
The administration has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to use “biological sex” in determining how transgender prisoners are assigned housing, putting them at significant risk of sexual abuse, assault, and other types of discrimination.
Prisoners’ biological sex would be used when screening, housing, and offering programming services to transgender inmates. It also inserts the word “necessary” in guidance on medical care and hormone therapy indicating officials will be allowed to decide whether or not inmates will receive medically appropriate services for gender transition.
The Obama administration issued a guidance memo for the Bureau of Prisons that provided instruction on intake and supervision of transgender inmates, including medical treatment, housing guidelines, and use of pronouns. It also noted that transgender inmates are at “increased risk of suicide, mental health issues and victimization.”
The memo was largely based on regulations first implemented in 2012. The Trump-Pence Administration’s move also conflicts with protections under the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
“The designation to a facility of the inmate’s identified gender would be appropriate only in rare cases,” the new Transgender Offender Manual now reads. Officials must “consider whether placement would threaten the management and security of the institution and/or pose a risk to other inmates in the institution.”
“The Obama Administration put this guidance into place after an extensive review to develop workable and reasonable procedures that would protect some of the most vulnerable people in our prison system,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy.
“The decision to disregard a transgender person’s gender identity is harmful and disrespectful. This unconscionable decision ignores medical expertise and defies common sense. Transgender people under the control of the Bureau of Prisons will face greater risk of violence and discrimination.”
“The Trump-Pence administration continues to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights and has now turned its aim towards some of the most vulnerable among us,” DNC LGBTQ Media Director Lucas Acosta said.
“With this decision, transgender individuals will be at risk of increased rates of abuse, discrimination, assault, rape, and possibly even death. The Trump-Pence administration has prioritized the politics of its base over the well-being of LGBTQ Americans.”