California’s Trans Law Makes Prisons ‘Unsafe’ for Women: ​​Former Inmate

Siyamak Khorrami

A new California law, allowing men who identify as female to be housed in women’s prisons, is wreaking havoc within the women’s prison system and creating an environment of fear and “total chaos emotionally,” according to Amie Ichikawa, a plaintiff in a lawsuit which seeks to overturn it.

“It’s the worst human science project I’ve ever seen,” she said during a recent episode of EpochTV’s California Insider. “This is very callous and brazen psychological warfare that is occurring right in our own state being fully funded by taxpayers’ dollars.”

Ichikawa, at 24, was incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla for five years. She recently founded the nonprofit Woman II Woman, which provides resources, education, and support for currently incarcerated women.

She said since 2020 when California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill—named The Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act and authored by California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)—she has received more phone calls, emails, and letters than she can count from incarcerated women in fear of their safety, post-traumatic disorder triggers, pregnancy, and STDs.

“How could they do this to us?” she said, was their theme.

California women’s cells now house eight inmates each, she said—extremely close living quarters of about 6-feet per inmate, leading to concerns by some female prisoners they may end up housed with a man—who now identifies as female—who has raped, for example, or who has “predatory intentions.”

“That’s a very tight space to share with anyone,” she said. “But even more so with someone who has a history of violence against women.”

Ichikawa, now 40, said she realizes there is no privacy in prison, but with the new law, “there is no dignity either,” as some transfers are and will be full-bodied males, sharing what was once single-sex space.

The law allows an inmate who identifies as transgender, non-binary, or intersex to be housed, at their choice, with either male or female prisoners. By all accounts, it was written to help the transgender community feel more comfortable if incarcerated.

But according to Ichikawa, it has not benefited anyone.

“It has really created a toxic, diabolical situation of … the prison of the mind,” she said. “People are afraid. Women are afraid to say anything. It’s crippling.”

She said there have been 40 such cases of men being transferred to women’s prisons since the law went into effect in January of 2021 and there are currently nearly 300 more applications in the pipeline, with more than one-third from inmates who are registered sex offenders.

According to Ichikawa, typically about 17 percent of California’s incarcerated are registered as such.

“That’s a big jump,” she said.

Some, she said, are men capitalizing on the law to move from typically more dangerous lockdowns because it’s easy to do so, with few requirements for a transfer other than self-identification.

“This is open season for anyone who wants to get out of the men’s prisons,” she said. “There are very few reasons why someone would not want to take advantage,” of this.

In the 30-minute interview, she said there is no evidence of any women, so far, becoming harmed in the new arrangement.

But, she said, some female inmates have lodged complaints and then were retaliated against for doing so by prison authorities, who called such “harassment.”

Ichikawa additionally said currently incarcerated women were given little preparation for the change, but said she learned from some that a poster was introduced in one woman’s prison detailing options in the event of pregnancy. Condoms, she said, are also now dispensed.

“Those were never available before in women’s prisons,” she said.

She said she was also shocked to learn only nine California lawmakers voted against the bill, and that the California Women’s Legislative Caucus, composed of dozens of female Senators and Assemblymembers, backed it.

“It took my breath away to learn how much support was behind this,” she said. “I didn’t know so many elected officials hated women so much.”

And, she said, she doesn’t think it’s stopping in California.

“This has got to be a nationwide, even a global movement to erase women,” Ichikawa said.

She said lawmakers who passed the bill didn’t fully understand its ramifications.

“Any adult breathing and with a pulse can see it will create a huge problem when you take a whole population and handpick a little part of it and give them all these privileges. It’s going to be dangerous,” she said.

She said she believed politicians got caught up in today’s ideological culture wars and were “fooled by pretty language, inclusive words.”

Ichikawa’s lawsuit, filed in November of 2021 in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Fresno, alleges the law violates the federal and state rights of women currently incarcerated in California’s prisons.

Siyamak Khorrami has been the general manager and chief editor of the Southern California edition of The Epoch Times since 2017. He is also the host of the “California Insider” show, which showcases leaders and professionals across the state with inside information about trending topics and critical issues in California.
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