Trump administration says transgender inmates should be housed based on gender at birth

The Trump administration reversed Obama-era protections that allowed transgender prisoners to choose bathrooms and cell blocks that matched the gender of their choice
May 12, 2018, 11:57am

The Trump administration has reportedly reversed Obama-era protections that allowed transgender prisoners to choose bathrooms and cell blocks that match the gender of their choice.

The “Transgender Offender Manual” for the Bureau of Prisons now instructs prisons to house transgender inmates based on their biological sex rather than their identified gender, BuzzFeed reported Friday.. They say the new guidelines are “consistent with maintaining security and good order in Federal prisons.”

“The designation to a facility of the inmate’s identified gender would be appropriate only in rare cases,” the manual says. “The TEC will consider whether placement would threaten the management and security of the institution and/or pose a risk to other inmates in the institution (e.g., considering inmates with histories of trauma, privacy concerns, etc.),” the manual added.

Advocates for the LGBTQ community called the move cruel and inhumane, arguing that that transgender individuals face a high risk of abuse in prisons.

“Police interactions, jails, and prisons can be traumatizing and are often dangerous interactions and places, especially for transgender people and anyone who is gender non-conforming,” the National Center for Transgender Equality notes.

In 2012, the Obama administration released new guidelines that forced correctional facilities to give “serious consideration” to assigning housing for transgender individuals based on their gender identity. The Trump administration has now rolled back these guidelines, not only prioritizing housing based on gender at birth, but also allowing prison officials to determine what treatments and programs are “necessary” for transgender inmates.

It follows the Trump administration's pattern of reversing protections for transgender individuals. In July, President Trump announced on Twitter he would ban transgender service members from serving in the armed forces. That policy — despite recent memos from the Department of Defense - is still being battled out in court and cannot yet be implemented.

Cover image: Handout/Reuters