Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 132 into law in January, legislation that requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to ask each person entering the department’s custody to particularize their pronouns, their gender identity, and whether they identify as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex.
The law prevents CDCR from restraining the individual if that individual declines to give this information, admits for the information to be refreshed later on, and requires staff to use the gender pronouns that the individual requested.
It also requires that CDCR house the person in a “correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual’s preference.” Similar legislation has been enacted in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Since the bill went into effect in January, 261 inmates have demanded “gender-based housing” transfers, the CDCR told the DCNF Tuesday. The abundance of these applications was from prisoners requesting to be transferred to female institutions, and only six inmates did not request to be in a women’s facility.
“255 are from transgender women and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a female institution and six are from transgender men and non-binary incarcerated people who are requesting to be housed in a male institution,” Deputy Press Secretary Terry Thornton told the DCNF.
CDCR has not vetoed a single gender-based housing application, the spokesman confirmed.
The CDCR has approved 21 of the applications, and four of these 21 have been transferred to Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.
“Two of the 21 have changed their minds,” Thornton said. The spokesman said that as of April 2, 1,129 incarcerated people self-identify as transgender, non-binary, and intersex.
Prison inmates at Chowchilla told the Los Angeles Times that “men are coming” and that the prisoners should expect sexual violence.
“That if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst. That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping,” 41-year-old Tomiekia Johnson told the publication that staffers said. “They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward. They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”
Prisoners worry that inmates asking for transfers are misleading about their gender identity to be assigned to women’s prisons, the LA Times reported. This has slowed down the transfer process, according to the publication.
Thornton told the LA Times that meetings and discussions “have helped to dispel any fears” and that “a person’s gender identity is self-reported and CDCR will evaluate any request submitted by an incarcerated person for gender-based housing.”
The prison system asked for several million dollars from California for executing the law, Thornton said.