Since Jan. 1, after a new law went into effect allowing men identifying as women to be housed in women’s prisons, women have been reporting being physically and sexually abused. Seven months later, the advocacy group the Women’s Liberation Front is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state leaders to halt the transfer process.
The letter, written by WoLF Legal Director Lauren Adams, is directed to the governor, the state attorney general, CDCR secretary, and wardens of two women’s facilities, in which she accuses the state of violating the constitutional rights of incarcerated women.
“Under the law as written, there is no method to screen out males who genuinely self-identify as transgender from those who are using the system to prey on women,” the letter states. “Even if sincere self-identification was the criterion for transfer, however, it would not mitigate or remove the danger posed to women.”
Adams cites a 2009 report, which found that 20% of trans-identifying men in California are sex offenders. But “based on the known criminal histories of the men who have been transferred thus far, this study appears to understate the problem,” she argues.
“We’re informed that at least one of the trans-identified male prisoners is on death row, and a considerable number of the others are serving life sentences for brutal crimes. We’ve also learned that just recently a new arrival punched his female cellmate in the head so hard that she couldn’t chew for three days.”
Other women who have previously been sexually abused feel traumatized by being around naked men sharing communal showers or having to sleep in the same cell with a man, Adams adds.
The allegations are from 24 prisoners who have been transferred to female institutions. Adams suggests that many men transferring into women’s prisons are not transgender. “A lot of these men checking the box and trying to get transfers are probably trying to save their lives,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to be in the men’s prison. You are giving them a way to get out of that, but now it’s the women who are in danger.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that prison officials are aware that men are identifying as transgender, who are reportedly not transgender, in order to access women’s facilities. The Wall Street Journal also detailed abuse of women occurring in the Central California Women’s Facility as a result of the new policy.
Currently, there are 273 pending transfer requests, the majority of which (266) are from men requesting to be transferred to a female institution, according to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. So far, 1,286 California inmates have identified as transgender or nonbinary.
The transfer 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 …,” the CDCR told the Washington Examiner.
But it has allowed men with violent pasts to enter women’s cells, including a transfer who was convicted of assaulting two young boys and one convicted of multiple counts of forcible rape, WoLF notes.
WoLF is asking Newsom to “halt transfers of male inmates to women’s facilities, and remove all male inmates who have been transferred thus far, halt the processing of applications for transfers pending a safety assessment and proper notice and comment period, and segregate male inmates together and allow women to refuse sharing housing with male inmates.”
The new policy was enacted after Newsom signed a bill, SB 132, into law last September, filed by Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener. Wiener also authored a bill to allow some pedophiles to not register as sex offenders. The bill passed the state house and senate with only Democrats voting for it, and many legislators not voting at all, allowing the bill to pass. Newsom signed the bill into law on Sept. 11, and it went into effect Nov. 18, 2020.
This article was originally posted on Group calls on Newsom to end transfer of transgender inmates