A new manual from the Bureau of Prisons released Friday rolled back rules that catered to transgendered inmates, according to USA Today.
The rules had been created while former President Barack Obama was on his way out the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., posted just two days before he left office.
That manual stated that the Bureau of Prisons should “recommend housing by gender identity when appropriate.”
However, the manual also states that they “will consider the health and safety of the transgender inmate, exploring appropriate options available to assist with mitigating risk to the transgender offender, to include but not limited to cell and/or unit assignments, application of management variables, programming missions of the facility, etc.”
“The (Transgender Executive Council) will consider factors specific to the transgender inmate, such as behavioral history, overall demeanor, and likely interactions with other inmates; and will consider whether placement would threaten the management and security of the institution and/or pose a risk to other inmates in the institution (e.g., considering inmates with histories of trauma, privacy concerns, etc.),” the manual continues.
“The designation to a facility of the inmate’s identified gender would be appropriate only in rare cases after consideration of all of the above factors and where there has been significant progress towards transition as demonstrated by medical and mental health history.”
The changed rules, according to the document, are “consistent with maintaining security and good order in Federal prisons.”
There were signs of other changes that might come, as well.
In a section on hormone therapy, the word “necessary” was added to “other medical treatment” in passages like “(h)ormone or other necessary medical treatment may be provided after an individualized assessment of the requested inmate by institution medical staff.”
The change might be a signal that certain treatments made possible by taxpayer dollars may no longer be available to transgender prisoners.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Nancy Ayers said that they balanced the “safety needs of transgender inmates as well as other inmates, including those with histories of trauma and privacy concerns, on a case-by-case basis.”
The move comes as four female inmates in Texas are suing the Department of Justice over the Obama-era regulations, claiming that the transgender prison housing rules “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.”
According to the Dallas Morning News, that lawsuit came after Peter Kevin Langan, the commander of the white supremacist Aryan Republican Army, was able to win transfer to Fort Worth’s Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a female-only prison. Langan has gone by “Donna” for the past 20 years; he’s currently serving a life sentence.
Langan is apparently one of only a small number of prisoners who have thus far won a transfer, with only 472 transgender men and women in federal lockup out of 180,000 total prisoners. That means the population is small enough to handle this on a case-by-case basis.
Overarching rules were ripe for abuse. Chalk this one up as a victory for common sense.
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