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America’s federal prisons are rolling back protections for transgender people

America’s federal prisons are rolling back protections for transgender people

Protections for transgender inmates will be rolled back, thanks to the Trump administration's Justice Department

Amid a broad push by the Trump administration, divisions of the Justice Department are seeking to roll back protections for LGBTI people in the prison system.

What’s happening?

According to the revised Transgender Offender Manual, the Bureau of Prisons will use an inmate’s biological sex to initially determine where to house them and what bathrooms they will be allowed to use. This revised manual also says that assigning an inmate to a prison facility based on the gender they identify as is only permitted in ‘rare cases.’

Where did this come from?

This move comes after four Evangelical Christian women in the Texas prison system sued, claiming sharing quarters with trans women was detrimental to their safety.

The lawsuit is specifically targeting Obama-era regulations established in 2012 to protect trans inmates under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Additionally, a guidance memo, issued just days before Obama left office, noted that trans inmates have an increased risk of depression, suicide, and other mental health issues. It urges prison officials to give ‘serious consideration’ to the wishes of transgender and intersex inmates when assigning facilities.

Removing gender and sexuality from the National Crime survey

Now, the Justice Department has proposed it no longer collect data about the gender identities and sexual orientations of teenagers who participate in the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Critics are saying these changes are being implemented to reduce the rights of LGBTI citizens, including in the military and in public schools.

‘This administration seems to be using every opportunity to roll back progress for L.G.B.T.Q. and transgender people, even against the grain of where the American public is, and is headed, on these issues,’ Vanita Gupta, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Obama, told the New York Times.

Democrats are against this

On Friday, 11 May, 55 Democrats signed a letter to the Bureau of Justice Statistics about their decision to remove questions about gender and sexuality from the National Crime Victimization Survey.

‘We are deeply concerned that the proposed elimination of important data collection about the victimization of L.G.B.T. teens is being driven by motives that are not based on any legitimate rationale,’ the letter reads.

‘Federal studies have shown that young L.G.B.T. individuals face higher rates of criminal victimization than their straight, heterosexual peers, including higher rates of being bullied, physically attacked and threatened with weapons in schools,’ Representative Jerrold Nadler, one of the letter’s signatories, said in a statement.

‘This administration has been marked by rollbacks on civil rights progress and a willingness to exhibit an anti-L.G.B.T.Q. agenda over and over again,’ Gupta said.

Other anti-trans roll backs

This all comes after the Trump administration’s attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the United States military. Additionally, the Department of Education has decided it will no longer hear cases of bathroom complaints by transgender students.