Trump rolls back protections for trans prisoners
The Trump administration has reversed rules allowing transgender prisoners to use facilities – including bathrooms and cell blocks – that match their gender identity.
The changes go against efforts by the previous Obama administration to ensure transgender inmates are protected from sexual assault and abuse – and follow on from a lawsuit filed by four evangelical Christians in a Texas prison.
The new Transgender Offender Manual, published yesterday and uploaded online by Buzzfeed, now states that that the Bureau of Prisons “will use biological sex” as the “initial determination” for assigning facilities to transgender prisoners.
The manual states: “The designation to a facility of the inmate’s identified gender would be appropriate only in rare cases.”
Earlier this week, it was alleged that the US Small Business Administration has quietly erased resources on LGBT issues since the Trump administration came to power.
The new guidelines for trans prisoners state that – although prison staff should “consider the health and safety of the transgender inmate” – officials should also “consider whether placement would threaten the management and security of the institution and/or pose a risk to other inmates in the institution.”
PinkNews has contacted the Bureau of Prisons for comment.
The move comes after four evangelical Christians in Texas prison sued in US District Court, challenging the Obama administration’s guidelines that allowed transgender women to avoid being placed in male prisons.
The complaint lodged by the lawyers of the women referred to trans women as “men” and insists that current policies are “a politically-driven agenda” that “creates a situation that incessantly violates the privacy of female inmates.”
The plaintiff’s claim that by being in prison with trans women they are “subjected to dangerous conditions”.
And in August, in response to the lawsuit, the Department of Justice (DoJ) began re-evaluating policies established during the Obama administration for transgender prisoners.
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The DoJ defended trans inmates, saying “have not yet proven a threat”. However, it did not defend the policy which was in place to protect them.
At the time, the department instead suggested that the policy will be revised by the Bureau of Prisons director.
The new Transgender Offender Manual continues Trump’s attack on the rights of transgender people.
If implemented, the policy recently announced by the Trump administration would allow healthcare professionals to refuse to treat LGBT+ people if they have a religious objection.
Trump’s proposed rule would remove an Obama-era protection and would allow doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies to deny coverage or treatment based on gender identity.