For far too long transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people have been subjected to various forms of discrimination and victimization. This has been particularly prevalent for those who have been incarcerated. Even the United States Supreme Court has recognized that transgender people are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and harassment.
Fortunately, in addition to being at the forefront of Criminal Justice Reform in general, by passing the historic SB 132 or the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act, the California legislature has finally decided to act in addressing the issues that transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people face while incarcerated. SB 132 was signed into law by Governor Newsom on September 26, 2020, and came into effect on January 1, 2021. The law was designed to ensure that transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people are provided with a safe, humane, and dignified environment while incarcerated.
According to the findings in the bill, the rate of sexual assault in California’s prisons is 13 times higher for transgender women than for men in the same prisons. Moreover, another survey showed that, nationwide, 40 percent of incarcerated transgender individuals reported experiencing sexual victimization, compared to 4 percent for other incarcerated people. Furthermore, another survey showed that 38 percent of transgender women reported being harassed by correctional officers or staff.