Jails, prisons, prisoners and inmate’s rights. The question has always been, “what are your rights” now that you are not a civilian? Once you walk through those prison gates, it’s a new set of rules. So, here’s one to digest, ingest or regurgitate; exactly what are your rights if you’re transgender? Is there a category for transgender? But things they are a-changin’. As an incoming inmate, do you declare your biological sex or your selected gender identity? Do you want to be a transgender female admitted to the women’s jail? Probably, or visa versa. That’s what your new identity is all about – right. But what if the inmates don’t want you? What are their rights? Right. Now it gets tricky.
That’s what happened in Texas. Get ready to put on your reasoning – logic hat. As the story goes, 4 Texas female inmates challenged Obama’s 2012 ruling that admits transgender inmates (identity sex) into prisons.
That rule was recently reversed, because of these 4 inmates who have sued the U.S. District Court challenging Obama’s guidelines. So think about their allegations. Remember it’s about men who are transgender women coming into a women’s jail. Think about those circumstances! Showers, bathrooms, sleeping… whatever else, especially if the gender re-assignment has not occurred.
These women prisoners claim this “creates a situation that incessantly violates the privacy of female inmates; endangers the physical and mental health of the female Plaintiffs and others, including prison staff; [and] increases the potential for rape.” Whew, that’s a mouthful, but conversely states Aryah Lester, founder of a transgender advocacy group, “When someone who presents pretty much as your stereotypical female [is] put in a male institution just because her birth certificate says male, that automatically puts her in danger.”
So, why do you ask, is this important? After all, it’s coming from a prison. Do we really care what happens in prison? Perhaps, but this also permeates into our society. Is there a parallel here? That’s the question. Whose rights are right? This is a human rights story. Things are a-changin’.
By Sharla Esparza