WASHINGTON ― A coalition of human rights organizations are warning the head of the nation’s federal prison system that the Trump-era rollback of protections for transgender prisoners puts those inmates at risk.
The Bureau of Prisons instituted a policy this year that houses inmates according to the gender assigned them at birth, saying exceptions should only be made “in rare cases.” More than 100 civil and human rights organizations signed on to a letter this week asking BOP to adhere to “basic human decency,” the U.S. Constitution, and prison rape standards by housing inmates based on their individual needs.
“Transgender prisoners will unquestionably suffer serious harm if this policy is implemented as written,” the letter to Bureau of Prisons acting Director Hugh Hurwitz states.
BOP made the changes to the Transgender Offender Manual after a group of evangelical Christian women sued over Obama-era guidelines that allowed trans women to live alongside inmates assigned female at birth. Those guidelines said that staffers should give “serious consideration” to the desires of trans inmates.
Ian Thompson, a legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new BOP policy “all but mandates that transgender people in prison are to be housed according to their assigned sex at birth, regardless of the person’s gender identity.”
Thompson said the policy “sends a clear message of disrespect, discrimination, and disregard that we know will have serious implications for the safety of transgender people in federal prison,” and is based in “anti-trans bigotry that animates the actions of this Justice Department.”
The letter, obtained by HuffPost, is embedded below: