Ignoring the privacy and safety rights of female inmates, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 132 several weeks ago, a bill to allow inmates to decide where to be housed based not on their biological sex, but on their gender identity. The bill author, Senator Scott Wiener (D) San Francisco, said the bill was necessary to protect male inmates who identify as female, who have high rates of victimization within men’s prisons. But he also argued this law ends discrimination against transgendered individuals because “if you are a trans-woman you are a woman – you should be able to be housed as a woman.”
California Family Council (CFC) President Jonathan Keller strongly opposed this bill. “Biological sex is not arbitrary. The legislature is increasing dangers for both inmates and correctional officers by attempting to let prisoners self-determine their sex,” Keller explained. “Even in prison, males and females are guaranteed a constitutional right to privacy. The legislature should not victimize prisoners, especially biological women, by requiring them to allow members of the opposite sex into facilities that are currently female-only or male-only. This bill is a recipe for complete chaos in our state’s correctional facilities.”
Last year, CFC Director of Capitol Engagement Greg Burt testified against SB 132, when the bill went before the Assembly Public Safety Committee. “Assembly members, you are in a bubble if you think this is what California voters want. Common sense screams out, this is a really, really bad idea,” Burt told the committee members. “If you care about the safety of women, you will oppose SB 132.”
Also arguing against this legislation in the same hearing was Abby Lunetta, a member of the Women’s Liberation Front. “I am a Democrat, a feminist, and an advocate for women’s rights. I’m here today because if SB 132, as it is currently written, becomes law, the state of California will sanction the desire of male rapists to share quarters with female inmates.”
As evidence, Lunette pointed to a current California inmate, a trans-identified male named Richard Masbruch, currently being housed in a female prison in Corona, California, even though he is serving time for torturing and raping women. (Read case details here.)
“Under no circumstances is this morally justifiable,” Lunetta told the committee. “This bill permits male inmates to be housed with female inmates at the mere request of a male inmate, even though males commit violent crimes three times more often than women, and there are no studies to show that males who self-ID as trans commit less violent crimes relative to the general male population.”
SB 132 would do the following:
- Give any such incarcerated male the legal right to be housed at a women’s facility, unless the incarcerated male’s “perception of [his] own health and safety needs requires a different placement.”
- Force correctional facility staff to use language pretending that males who claim to have a woman “gender identity” are women.
- Forbid facility officials from considering anatomy, the presence or absence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and the presence or absence of any other physical or mental health diagnosis.
- Forbid prison officials from overriding a prisoner’s demand to be housed in a women’s facility unless the prison official meets the extraordinarily high bar of demonstrating in advance “significant security or management concerns.”