Transgender people can experience discrimination and abuse in society, and the same is unfortunately true in prison. However, keep in mind that there are laws put in place to protect transgender inmates. On this page, I will discuss the rights that transgender people have in prison, as well as what to do if you think that these rights have been violated.
Transgender inmates have the following rights in prison or other correctional facilities:
- Once prison staff members have been informed that you are transgender, they are legally obligated to protect you.
- You have the right to a strip search by a same gender prison staff member, so long as it is not an emergency. For example, transgender women have the right to be searched by female correctional officers, and transgender men have the right to be searched by male correctional officers. Public strip searches also might violate your privacy rights.
- Strip searches for the purpose of assessing your genitals are not allowed. Staff members need to be trained on safe, proper strip searches that are least invasive as possible.
- You have the right to grooming equipment and clothes consistent with your identified gender.
- You have the right to request a gender dysphoria evaluation, and this must take place within a reasonable time of your request. You also have the right to medical treatment related to gender dysphoria.
- You have the right to treatment such as gender confirmation surgery or hormone therapy. A blanket ban on such treatments is unconstitutional.
- The right to individualized housing placement.
- The right not to be held in solitary confinement for more than 30 days on the grounds that such isolation is to protect from violence. You can’t be segregated for more than 30 days against your will.
- If you are placed in protective custody, you still have the right to participate in work and education opportunities, prison programs, and more, so long as you are qualified and it will be safe for you to do so.
- You have the right to a private shower.
Protecting Yourself From Discrimination or Abuse
If you think that your transgender inmate rights have been violated, you should take the following steps to get help:
- Report threats or safety concerns to prison staff members in writing.
- If you face assault, file an official complaint or grievance as soon as you can.
- Learn the appeal rules for grievances and file an appeal so that you can later file a lawsuit.
- You can file a grievance for a violation of any of the other rights listed above. Make sure that you follow proper procedures so that your grievance is in compliance with standards and is accepted.
- Learn about the specific policies that your correctional facility follows so that you know what constitutes a violation and what does not.
Finally, it is a good idea to contact a civil rights lawyer if you think that your rights have been violated. Contact our office for more information – we are happy to discuss your situation during a free consultation and help you determine the best way to proceed given your case.