Gender identity and incarceration

Now that society is becoming more sensitive to those who identify as something other than the gender they were assigned at birth (with many states allowing people to choose which public restrooms they are most comfortable with) is it time to take the next logical step? The pain and anxiety involved in using a male restroom if you identify as female (and vice versa) is as nothing compared to imprisonment among those whom you see as the opposite sex. Using a restroom is a matter of minutes, incarceration can extend to years and years, even life.There’s even an argument that it would be cruel and unusual punishment.

I understand that this would need close monitoring and the system could be abused but that was the argument against changing the rules for restrooms too. Shouldn’t deciding your own gender apply to everything?

I think the safety of the prisoner would trump any deference to gender identity. I doubt general population in prison is very understanding of gender issues. Seems like a recipe for violence.

One that the Supreme Court evidently found compelling.

You would have to have some checks. I remember in the restroom threads, many posters argued that all that was necessary was to simply declare a gender identification and that should not be questioned.

That surely would not work for prisons. Imagine the trouble if a big burly man simply identified falsely as a female so he could be sent to the women’s prison. Then he rapes several female prisoners. What then?

Also, what if there are velociraptors? Wielding lightsabers?

What then?

I don’t get your sarcasm. You don’t believe that if the rule was that you only had to declare a gender that there would not be heterosexual male prisoners simply claiming to be women so that they could be housed in a women’s prison and attempt to fulfill a Cinemax fantasy?

Agreed, they can really only go off of biological identity.
Ok, so you’re a post-op trans woman, you go to female prison.
No problem there.

Hell if I were in California I’d be tempted to go get female on my DL just on the off chance I might go to jail.

Since it would be unlikely to affect me in any other way.

The sarcasm comes from the fact that people like you trot out these highly unlikely scenarios* to frighten and quash any serious discussions of gender identity. When there are REAL cases of people suffering because of society’s refusal to acknowledge the situation. Did you read his cite? A real person suffered continuous assault and contracted a potentially fatal disease because the prison system willfully turned a blind eye to the problem. Even if you think that transgenderism is a mental illness, you have to see the potential problems of forcing a person who believes they are one way to live as another.

Real people deserve consideration over hypothetical possibilities.


(* think about it for a second. Do you really think one man, no matter how big and burly he may be, would have any “success” in his fantasy in a prison full of criminals.)

If the rule were that anyone could say, “I’m a woman,” and they were automatically transferred to a woman’s prison, then that would, indeed, be a valid concern. And if velociraptors still existed, it would be very, very dangerous to let them get a hold of lightsabers.

Do you get the sarcasm now?

A pre-op transwoman can’t go to women’s prison, presumably because she’d rape the other inmates. But a post-op transwoman can, because… you can’t commit sexual assault without a penis? Is that your logic here?

I posted a link upthread about Dee Farmer, a transwoman who was put into the general pop of a men’s prison, and was severely beaten, raped, and infected with HIV. Do you think her assault was predicated in anyway on whether she’d has sexual reassignment surgery yet or not? If she’d been pre-op, would her penis have magically protected her from being assaulted?


Then what purpose does your pre-op/post-op housing distinction serve?

Oh, also, here’s a study showing that transgendered women are thirteen times more likely to be sexually assaulted in prison than cisgendered inmates.

What about a trans man prisoner? What should be done in such instances? I’m genuinely curious. The case upon which that ruling was made was one involving a trans woman. It seems like putting a trans man in a male prison would be more of a.‘cruel and unusual punishment’ than if he was assigned prisoner designation by birthgender. Or maybe held in some form of special status along with older or disabled prisoners.

There isn’t a good answer. Just isn’t.
Briefly reviewing numbers , it looks like LGBT person’s are about 5-8 times as likely to be victims no matter their gender or which prison they go to.
So a general argument for better safety is very sound. Perhaps segregated wards.

I’m open to suggestions on how to best legally determine a persons sex that aren’t based solely on their self certification. Got any?

My logic here is that if you truly identify as a woman then you probably don’t need/want that penis and if you’re post op you’re obviously dedicated to that gender identity.

It’s more of a stopgap measure though …until other systems catch up.
As I pointed our, right now I CA I could go change my DL gender to female,. I can’t think of any scenario it would affect my day to day life but if were arrested 5 years from now hey, I’ve been identifying as a woman for 5 years …

Then was I mistaken when I recalled the debate about restroom access and posters were claiming that no paperwork was necessary; that if some guy with a beard and a penis claimed that he identified as a woman, then that was the end of it? He (she) should be permitted to use the ladies’ room?

Was that not the claim? I’m not trying to be an asshole here. I am legitimately trying to understand the policy position.

You think that ZERO convicted felon heterosexual men would try to get assigned to a women’s prison if that was the policy? You think it is an absurd hypothetical?

Highly unlikely scenarios? Guess what’s happening in Britain.

A transgender prisoner has been jailed for life after admitting sexually assaulting two female inmates while being held on remand and the previous rapes of two other women.

Karen White, 52, was described as a “predator” who was a danger to women and children, Leeds Crown Court heard.

She attacked two women while at HMP New Hall, a women’s prison between September and October last year. At the time she was on remand for other offences.

White also had previous convictions for indecent assault, indecent exposure and gross indecency involving children, violence and dishonesty.

There was a recent story in the U.K. where a transwoman who was moved to a women’s prison took advantage of the situation to commit serious sexual assaults.

But I think this just highlights the rather obvious fact that great care is required when assessing appropriate placement for any prisoners with a violent criminal history wherever they are placed. And I don’t think anyone would dispute that we can start from a position of compassionate respect for the identity of trans people, yet maintain stricter scrutiny, skepticism and vigilance over the potential motivations of violent criminals than we might in everyday life.


Respectfully, I think that this vastly understates the issue, and does so in a way to make it seem that this issue of transsexuals in prison is no different than any ordinary prison classification. If you have a person with a penis in a women’s prison, there are going to be per se problems that arise (hehe) from that fact. You don’t need “extra care” or any other studies to know that.

When half of the female pod turns up pregnant by this one man (who is not a serious transgendered person, but claims to be) then such extremism will set back the rights of transgender people when the public reacts with outrage.

Do you think that nobody is at risk if a physically large and powerful prisoner, a probable psychopath with a history of violent sexual assault, is allowed to mingle freely and without careful monitoring in any prison?

I don’t deny that the risk is greater if this prisoner is placed in a women’s prison. But the lessons we should draw from this case are more about how we should deal with the set [all violent psychopathic prisoners prone to sexual assault], rather than how we should deal with the set [all trans people].

Timely topic, given that Trump has rolled back the Obama-era policies protecting the civil rights of transgender prisoners. Littleman says it’s not a topic with a simple solution. Maybe not, but there are solutions. New York City has a transgender unit, and Germany now has a law stating that a convict with certification from a doctor stating that person is gender-fluid must be incarcerated with that person’s preferred gender.

Those are solutions kind of in line with what I was thinking, after just stop gaps.
They aren’t ones that could be readily implemented extremely fast and they are probably far from perfect but …

What the story shows is that changing how someone looks on the outside doesn’t change who they are on the inside. A male undergoing transformative external surgery is a male on the inside.