Sacramento, CA – Hundreds of California prison inmates have requested to be transferred to prisons that align with their gender identity under a new law California Governor Gavin Newsom enacted in earlier this year.
Under SB132, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is mandated to ask each inmate coming into the department’s custody to provide their preferred pronouns, gender identity, and whether they identify as intersex, nonbinary, or transgender, the Daily Caller reported.
Inmates cannot be disciplined for refusing to answer such questions, and are free to change any information they provide in the future, according to the law.
The CDCR is required to house inmates in a “correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual’s preference,” and staff members are mandated to use the gender pronouns specified by the inmate, the Daily Caller reported.
According to DCDR Deputy Press Secretary Terry Thornton, 1,129 current CDCR prisoners report they are intersex, non-binary, or transgender.
A total of 261 inmates have filed requests for “gender based housing” transfers since Newsom signed the bill into law in January, according to the Daily Caller.
All but six of those inmates asked to be moved to female facilities.
According to Thornton, “255 are from transgender women and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a female institution and six are from transgender men and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a male institution.”
She said the department has approved 21 transfer requests thus far, and that it has not denied any, the Daily Caller reported.
The state’s prison system has asked for several million dollars’ worth of taxpayer funds to help implement the new law, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Some inmates said they are worried prisoners will lie about their gender identity in order to be moved into women’s facilities, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Central California Women’s Facility inmate Tomiekia Johnson said prison staff have warned her and her fellow inmates that “men are coming,” according to the paper.
Johnson claimed they have been told “that if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst. That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward,” she added. “They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”
Johnson said she believes transgender prisoners have the right to feel safe and protected, but that transferring biological males to female prisons “infringes on my right to be safe as well,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Thornton said the CDCR is working to identify men who are falsely claiming to be transgender, the Daily Caller reported.
“CDCR’s classification process includes a thorough review of the incarcerated person’s history prior to and during incarceration, their crime, arrest and criminal history, trial and sentencing documentation, medical and mental health needs, custody level, time to serve, safety concerns and other factors including security and program needs,” the agency’s guidance dictates. “Medical and mental health care staff members are part of this process.”
Thornton said the law change “supports CDCR’s endeavors to improve safety, help prevent sexual abuse and create a more respectful environment for the incarcerated transgender, non-binary and intersex community,” according to FOX News.
Massachusetts and Connecticut have also passed similar laws in recent years.
In 2015, California became the first state to establish a process for prison inmates to request taxpayer-funded “gender-affirming surgery,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Law changes made in 2018 also made it easier for prisoners to change their name and gender.