Clinton, NJ – Two inmates at a women’s prison in New Jersey are pregnant after having sex behind bars with transgender inmates.
The Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, an all-women’s state prison, began housing transgender women in 2021 as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by a transgender inmate and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Daily Mail reported.
Transgender women are not required to have had gender reassignment surgery in order to live amongst the female inmates.
It is not the first time that the agreement to house biologically-male prisoners with women has come under scrutiny, the Daily Mail reported.
Two female inmates filed a lawsuit in 2021 in an effort to have the policy revoked.
The plaintiffs complained about transgender inmates sexually harassing other prisoners, the Daily Mail reported.
The lawsuit also claimed that transgender inmates had been engaging in consensual sex with female inmates.
Dan Sperrazza, external affairs executive director for the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC), told NJ.com that the women who are pregnant now engaged in consensual sex with other prisoners.
“While DOC cannot comment on any specific disciplinary or housing decisions that may be considered in light of these events, the Department always reserves all options to ensure the health and safety of the individuals in its custody,” Sperrazza said.
It wasn’t known if the women were pregnant by the same transgender inmate, or if the babies had been fathered by two different transgender women.
Critics of the transgender housing police at Edna Mahan have said it puts an undue burden on the state to protect female inmates, the Daily News reported.
The policy requires state prisons to provide more protections for transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people.
The state must house prisoners by the gender they identify with rather than the sex they were born with, and the policy says a prisoner can announce a change in gender identity at any time while they’re behind bars, the Daily Mail reported.
The policy also entitles those individuals to single-cell housing until they are permanently placed, private shower time, and a prohibition of physical examinations to determine an inmate’s sex.
Transgender inmates also have the right to have input into housing decisions and to appeal the determinations that are made by DOC, according to the Daily Mail.
Male officers are also prohibited from doing pat-down searches on transgender women, according to the policy.
The ACLU said the transgender housing policy must be maintained for at least a year under the terms of the settlement, the Daily Mail reported.
“When I was forced to live in men’s prisons, I was terrified I wouldn’t make it out alive. Those memories still haunt me,” the transgender plaintiff in the lawsuit, known only as “Sonia Doe,” said in a statement in 2021.
“Though I still have nightmares about that time, it’s a relief to know that as a result of my experience the NJDOC has adopted substantial policy changes so no person should be subjected to the horrors I survived,” she added.
The union that represents the corrections officers who work at the facility said the new policy made things more dangerous, the Daily News reported.
“We opposed this policy change believing it would be detrimental to the general population of female inmates being housed at Edna Mahan and also bring added stress to our correctional police officers assigned to this institution,” the union’s president told NJ.com.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced plans to shut down the Edna Mahan facility last year, the Daily News reported.