Committee to Address Safety of Transgender ‘Males,’ ‘Females’ Not Women Facing Sexual Assault Behind Bars

Raymondville, UNITED STATES: Female detainees turn their backs to the visiting media as instructed by Homeland Security officials inside Homeland Security's Willacy Detention Center, a facility with 10 giant tents that can house up to 2000 detained illegal immigrants, 10 May 2007 in Raymondville, Texas. The 65 million USD facility …
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

Officials in Pittsburg are worried about the safety of transgender inmates in Allegheny County Jail and are forming a committee that includes two people who reject their biological sex to address the issue.

Jail staff and members of the prison’s oversight committee will also sit on the committee.

The taxpayer-funded affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR) in Pittsburg’s story did not mention biological women inmates who claim to have been sexually assaulted by a transgender woman housed with them. Instead it reported on a transgender man facing danger when housed in a men’s part of the prison.

The committee will create a plan for “appropriate housing for incarcerated trans people”:

The committee formed as part of talks between the oversight board and SisTers PGH, a local trans advocacy organization. Founder Ciora Thomas applauded the approved motion last week and said she hopes to serve as one of the members of the committee.

Thomas said, even assigning people to pods based on their gender identity could still pose security risks for trans individuals.

“If you’re putting a trans man in a pod with cis men, you are opening them up to sexual assault, rape, being trafficked within the jail,” Thomas said. “It’s still an issue of safety. Cis[gender] women can be dangerously transphobic. Cis men can be dangerously transphobic.”

The article reveals that the prison has to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, which states:

The agency shall not place lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex inmates in dedicated facilities, units, or wings solely on the basis of such identification or status, unless such placement is in a dedicated facility, unit, or wing established in connection with a consent decree, legal settlement, or legal judgment for the purpose of protecting such inmates.

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