California state senator Scott Weiner has proposed new legislation that would end the common practice of housing trans women with men in state prisons. State Bill 132 would allow gender non-conforming inmates to identify with the housing that they feel best suits their gender identity.
In August, a trans women named Fancy Lipsey sued the state of California after she was attacked by another inmate for refusing his demands for intercourse and was reportedly told by prison guards to handle the assault ‘like a man’.
In February 2020, ABC News reported that out of nearly 5,000 transgender prisoners in the US, only 15 were housed in line with their gender identity. There are currently only two jurisdictions in the US that do not assign housing according to birth gender.
A 2007 study published by the University of California discovered that approximately three in five trans women report being assaulted in prison, and they are generally 13 times more likely to be assaulted than male inmates. The new bill aims to alleviate this issue.
The proposition has caused some controversy with radical group Feminists in Struggle which told the San Francisco Chronicle that ‘people born female are lost in discussion’. Despite this, ex-inmate Jasmine Jones, of the Transgender, Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project says she is ‘not going to forget’ about trans women who are still in prison and the new bill ‘would be a lifeline’ for them. The bill has not yet been passed and California Governor Gavin Newsom has until the end of September to pass decide whether to approve it.