Transgender inmates now placed by biological sex, not identity

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(WAND) – Transgender inmates will now be placed in prisons using biological sex as the main guideline.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is removing protections put in place during former president Barack Obama’s era, which used gender identity as the guideline. The BOP says “rare cases”, such as strong progress toward a transition and behavioral history, could lead to a change in placement.   

Four female inmates in Texas sued the BOP in 2016, claiming sharing prison space with transgender inmates violated their constitutional rights. The filed complaint says blending of the sexes creates “dangers and threats to the physical and mental health and safety" of the women.

A BOP leader told NBC News new rules “balance” the safety needs of all inmates through a case-by-case basis of considering gender identity. It says the BOP training program now includes “best practices” for improving the safety of transgender inmates, other inmates, prison staff and the public.

Those who back transgender rights, including National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling, says the prison system is working to “violate federal law” and promote an “inhumane agenda”.  Trans Miami advocacy group founder Aryah Lester says the decision proves the Trump administration feels “trans people’s lives don’t matter”.

The 2014 National Inmate Survey, which collected numbers about sexual assault in prison after the creation of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission in the early 2000s, found transgender inmates face a higher sexual violence risk compared to other inmates.  It found 35 percent of transgender prisoners dealt with sexual victimization.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice asked BOP Director Mark S. Inch to make decisions about transgender inmate placement after the Texas lawsuit surfaced.

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