Since January, 261 California prison inmates have requested transfers to prisons aligning with their gender identity, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told the Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday.
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 132 into law in January, a bill that requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to ask every individual entering the department’s custody to specify their pronouns, their gender identity, and whether they identify as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex.
The law prevents CDCR from disciplining the individual if that individual refuses to give this information, allows for the information to be updated later on, and requires staff to use the gender pronouns that the individual requested.
It also requires that CDCR house the individual in a “correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual’s preference.” Similar legislation has been passed in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Since the bill went into effect in January, 261 inmates have requested “gender-based housing” transfers, the CDCR told the DCNF Tuesday. The vast majority of these requests were from inmates requesting to be transferred to female facilities, and only six inmates did not request to be in a women’s facility.
“255 are from transgender women and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a female institution and six are from transgender men and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a male institution,” Deputy Press Secretary Terry Thornton told the DCNF.
CDCR has not denied a single gender-based housing request, the spokeswoman confirmed.
The CDCR has approved 21 of the requests, and four of these 21 have been transferred to Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
“Two of the 21 have changed their minds,” Thornton said. The spokeswoman said that as of April 2, 1,129 incarcerated people self-identify as transgender, non-binary, and intersex.
Prison inmates at Chowchilla told the Los Angeles Times that “men are coming” and that the prisoners should anticipate sexual violence.
“That if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst. That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping,” 41-year-old Tomiekia Johnson told the publication that staffers said. “They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward. They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”
Prisoners fear that inmates requesting transfers are lying about their gender identity in order to be transferred to women’s prisons, the LA Times reported. This has slowed down the transfer process, according to the publication.
Thornton told the LA Times that meetings and discussions “have helped to dispel any fears” and that “a person’s gender identity is self-reported and CDCR will evaluate any request submitted by an incarcerated person for gender-based housing.”
The prison system requested several million dollars from California for implementing the law, Thornton said.
By Mary Margaret Olohan
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