California prisons grapple with hundreds of transgender inmates requesting new housing

The California prison system has received 261 applications since January 1 from transgender, intersex, and non-binary inmates to transfer to facilities that match their gender identity. Because of systemic transphobia, transgender individuals are incarcerated at higher rates than the cisgender population and once incarcerated, they experience more discrimination, harassment, and violence.

The requests were filed after state law SB 132 came into effect allowing transgender inmates to transfer to different prisons. The law requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to house, search, and refer to inmates according to their gender identity. No medical transition or doctor certification are needed to support the request, which is an important step since so many people lack access to medical services. Around 1 percent of prisoners in California, 1,129 inmates in total, have notified the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that they are transgender, intersex, or non-binary.

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