Hundreds of Transgender inmates that identify as female have made requests that they be transferred to women’s prisons in the state of California, according to The Western Journal.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that allows incarcerated “transgender, non-binary and intersex people” to choose if they want to be housed in a male or female prison.
There have been 261 requests for transfers since the bill took effect on Jan. 1.
These transfer requests have created fear in inmates at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, where guards have warned them that “men are coming” and they should expect sexual violence.
Tomiekia Johnson said she was told “That if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst. That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping.”
“They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward. They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”
One transgender inmate at a men’s prison said that he had been asked to identify other inmates who had applied for a transfer but were not transgender.
“They wanted me in a confidential setting to tell them who is transgender and who is not, so they can block some of these guys from going to the women’s prison,” he said.
Jen Orthwein, who represents transgender inmates, said that not all of them want “gender-affirming” surgery or hormone therapy and that “any expression of femininity in a men’s prison places people in danger.”
Johnson said living with transgender inmates who haven’t undergone such surgery is threatening to her. “I do think they should be safe, but it infringes on my right to be safe as well,” she said.
More from The Western Journal:
Jasmine Jones, who works as a legal assistant at the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project, told the Times that people who have transitioned or are in the process of transitioning should be the first to be transferred.
The Times reported that some advocates and inmates said that “misinformation spread by prison staffers is stirring up transphobia and that more must be done to educate inmates.”
Just 1 percent of California’s prison population identifies as nonbinary, intersex or transgender, according to the Times.
A 2015 settlement made California the first state to offer inmates state-funded gender-reassignment surgery, Reuters reported.