San Francisco Prisons Are Doing This To Save Transgender Inmates From Abuse

Go, San Fran!

Home to a vibrant LGBT community, San Francisco is now setting an example, yet again, on an issue concerning LGBT rights. 

By the end of 2015, the city will be the among the first in the nation to house transgender inmates in its prisons according to their gender preference. 

Currently, trans inmates in San Fran are placed in an isolated wing of its downtown jail facility, but on Thursday, San Fran County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi expressed hope that they would be living among their preferred population before 2016.

Those who request for a change will have to go through a review process that will not be solely based on an applicant having gender reassignment surgery or being diagnosed with gender dysphoria. 

According to Mirkarimi's statement, the review will include feedback from representative of the trans community. "It's not going to be based on genitalia alone," he said. "We will have an advisory committee, experts that help represent the transgender population. There will be complicated incidences where we'll have to decide if this is the proper fit or not."

San Francisco's move sets the city apart from California's prisons.

Last month, California became the first state in the U.S. to agree to pay for an inmates gender reassignment surgery. However, California's prison system houses pre-reassignment surgery trans inmates according to the gender they were assigned at birth, California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton told the L.A. Times.

Activists argue that inmates who identify as a different gender are more likely to be abused and raped. Trans prisoners are sometime placed in solitary confinement for protection. 

It's an issue that concerns the face of America's transgender community, Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner, whose public transition has brought trans visibility to an all-time high, expressed fears that she would be put in a male prison if convicted on manslaughter charges for a fatal car crash. 

"That is the worst-case scenario," she told NBC in an interview. "It is an enormous problem that they would put trans women in a men's county jail."

Cover image via iStock/oguzdkn