Women’s rights groups are demanding that the state of California repeal controversial Senate-passed Bill 132 signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newson in 2020.
The law allows transgender, non-binary and intersex prisoners — namely biological men who self-identify as female or don’t feel good about their biological gender — to apply for a transfer to women’s prisons.
The lawsuit was filed by the Women’s Liberation Front in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The group, which also opposes “trans” biological men competing in women’s sports, collected two complaints alleging sexual assaults against female prisoners at the hands of transgender inmates who applied for a transfer.
One of the assaults occurred after the law went into effect. However, the second assault does not have a stipulated time frame.
Another group named in the lawsuit is Woman II Woman, which advocates for the safety of incarcerated women. In addition to sexual assaults, there were also female prisoner plaintiffs who alleged that they were victims of domestic violence in the past and therefore do not feel safe in an environment where they have to live with biological men.
Several local media outlets, such as The Sacramento Bee, echoed the filing of the lawsuit. Amie Ichikawa of Woman II Woman told the media outlet that many women felt “forgotten” and “completely left out” after Bill 132 was passed and signed into law.
According to The Sacramento Bee, Ichikawa is in favor of improved safety for transgender people inside prison, but is opposed to passing laws that allow “sexual predators” to use loopholes in state laws to sneak in among women.
The Los Angeles Times obtained comments from Lauren Adams, legal director of the Women’s Liberation Front, who said that “the foundational basis of our lawsuit is that these are male offenders housed in women’s prisons.”
“To pretend that they are women, in language or in what we say about them or how we talk about them, goes against the whole basis of the lawsuit.”
LGBT groups react to controversy in California
LGBT rights groups have already taken a stand against the lawsuit.
“The way they wrote (the lawsuit) is saying that trans women are men and that they are putting men in women’s prisons, which is completely false,” Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of the [email protected] Coalition, which co-sponsored Bill 132, told the Los Angeles Times. “They are making a claim that is not accurate and is not respectful to trans women specifically.”
LGBTQ Nation published an article claiming that “TERF inmates” (meaning trans-exclusionary radical feminists) sued “California for placing transgender women in women’s prisons.”
Some users on Twitter ridiculed the pro-LGBT media outlet’s headline. “Let me de-Orwell that headline for you: ‘Female inmates sue California for placing male inmates in female prisons,'” wrote Colin Wright, editor of Quillette magazine.
Washington state uproar over new trans policy that allows biological men to go to women’s prisons
Last week, a National Review investigation revealed that a trans inmate in Washington state took advantage of a law similar to California’s 132 to gain a transfer to the only women’s prison in the entire state. The man, according to the report, allegedly took advantage of his cellmate’s special status to “technically rape her.”
According to the complaint by Scott Fleming, a former guard at the Washington Correctional Center for Women, the prison allegedly covered up the case to avoid scandal just as they received a lawsuit from a trans rights advocacy group.
New trans policies in California and Washington that allow “female-identified” prisoners to transfer to women’s prisons are generating a lot of concern among inmates and women’s rights groups.
So far, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation data disclosed to The Sacramento Bee, 291 people housed in male correctional facilities in the state applied for a transfer to a female correctional facility. 41 were approved, 10 were withdrawn, 6 were denied, and the rest are still under evaluation.