Newsom signs bill allowing transgender inmates to select prison of their gender identity

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Saturday permitting transgender inmates to be placed in or moved to prisons that match their chosen identity.

The new law authorizes the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to house inmates according to their gender identity instead of the sex they were born, but only if prison authorities don’t have “management or security concerns” with particular inmates.

The law directs prison officials to query inmates in private during their in-processing phase how they identify — as transgender, nonbinary or intersex. At that point, inmates can then request a certain facility that houses men or women, The Hill reports.

The new law says that CDCR officials can’t simply deny requests based solely on the inmate’s biological sex or sexual orientation. When officials do deny requests, they are required to file a written statement explaining it to the inmate, while then providing them a chance to appeal.

“California has some of the strongest pro LGBTQ+ laws in the nation and with the bills signed today, our march toward equality takes an additional step forward,” Newsom said in a statement.

“These new laws will help us better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community, establish a new fund to support our transgender sisters and brothers and advance inclusive and culturally competent efforts that uphold the dignity of all Californians, regardless of who you are or who you love,” he added.

The measure was part of a package of transgender and LGBTQ bills signed by Newsom.

The bill pertaining to inmates was SB 132, which was sponsored by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).

“Thank you Governor Newsom for once again proving you are a champion for LGBTQ people,” said Wiener, who chairs the California Legislative LGTBQ Caucus.

“SB 132 is life-saving legislation that will protect trans people in prison, particularly trans women who are subject to high levels of assault and harassment in men’s facilities,” he said in a statement.

“And, SB 932 ensures our community will no longer be invisible, and that we will be counted by our public health system. Today is a great day for California’s LGBTQ community and yet another example of California’s deep commitment to LGBTQ equality.”

Meanwhile, Newsom also signed AB 2218, sponsored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) which establishes the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund.

The fund aims to assist groups that serve people who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex (TGI), to include TGI-specific housing programs and hospital partnerships, health clinics, and other health providers to provide care to such individuals.

“This is a critical measure for our transgender community and I thank Governor Newsom for his steadfast leadership in signing AB 2218,” said Santiago.

“California’s TGI community has long faced obstacles in receiving safe, non-discriminatory, comprehensive care, and COVID-19 has exacerbated these existing health care disparities. This bill will help create programs where TGI-identified people can receive safe, competent, and inclusive health care and other social services,” he added.

Newsom also signed SB 1255, which bans insurance companies from discriminating against HIV-positive people.

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Jon Dougherty


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