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California to consider gay and trans prisoners’ housing needs

PinkNews Staff Writer April 29, 2009

A bill which would allow sexual orientation and trans status to be taken into account when housing prisoners is to be considered by California’s state assembly tomorrow.

Introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, it is supported by LGBT groups who say such prisoners are more likely to face abuse, AP reports.

Two committees have already cleared the bill.

At present, state law means officials must consider age, mental health and offending history when deciding where to place inmates.

It is thought that only one Californian trans prisoner who was born biologically male is being housed in a women’s prison.

The proposal is being backed by a study released by the University of California this week which found that almost 60 per cent of trans prisoners being housed in male prisons have been sexually assaulted, a rate 13 times higher than the average.

However, a similar percentage said they would prefer to be housed in men’s prisons.

Study author Valerie Jenness said: “They like to be around men. These are overwhelmingly heterosexual women who like to be around men and have relationships with men.”

It was also found that trans prisoners were less likely to receive medical attention or recognition from guards than other inmates who were assaulted.

Out of the 170,000 inmates in California’s prison system, 332 identified as trans women.

More: Americas

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