Jan 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. reinstates policy requiring prisons to consider trans people's safety

Photo of a trans flag perched on a fence between two rainbow flags at an outdoor park
Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld via Getty Images

The Biden administration has restored an Obama-era policy requiring federal prisons to consider safety when deciding where to house transgender people, the Bureau of Prisons confirmed to the 19th Wednesday.

Why it matters: Former President Trump had rescinded the policy, forcing hundreds of trans inmates to live in confines based on their sex assigned at birth.

Details: The new BOP guidance states, "In deciding whether to assign a transgender or intersex inmate to a facility for male or female inmates … the agency shall consider on a case-by-case basis whether a placement would ensure the inmate’s health and safety, and whether the placement would present management or security problems."

  • In another section, it notes that in making housing unit and programming assignments, "a transgender or intersex inmate's own views with respect to his/her own safety must be given serious consideration."
  • The updated Transgender Offender Manual also requires prison staff to refer to trans people by their lived names and pronouns.
  • Roughly 1,300 transgender people are detained in federal prisons, according to the 19th.

Worth noting: The policy only applies to federal prisons, meaning trans people in state prisons remain vulnerable.

  • A 2020 NBC News investigation found that only 15 of the roughly 4,800 trans people detained in state prisons were housed according to their lived gender.
  • The rest are often forced to fight off sexual assault, discrimination and other forms of harassment in their quarters, per NBC News.
  • The BOP did not immediately return Axios' request for comment.
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