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Congressional Dems Seek Better Care For Trans Prisoners

Congressional Democrats are pushing for more information about the living conditions of transgender inmates in federal prisons and jails amid a spate of lawsuits about alleged civil rights violations, including a refusal to provide gender-affirming care, Roll Call reports. Research on transgender inmates is limited to data dating back several years and is not necessarily reflective of today’s conditions. A 2015 study by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 37 percent of transgender inmate respondents who had been taking hormones prior to incarceration were prohibited from continuing treatment within the past year. “People who are incarcerated also need to be treated with dignity and deserve access to medically necessary care, including gender-affirming care,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who co-chairs the Congressional Equality Caucus’ Transgender Equality Task Force.

Jayapal was among more than 30 Democrats to sign a June 2023 letter urging the Government Accountability Office to investigate the matter, and the GAO has begun. The timeline and scope of the investigation is currently unknown, but Jayapal says Democrats are “trying to push them to do it as quickly as possible.” Democrats asked that the GAO at a minimum evaluate access to gender-affirming care and items, rates of sexual assault and physical violence, instances of solitary confinement and housing practices and policies, including if federal prisons and jails are following guidance from the federal prison agency. Their request comes after upheaval in how federal prisons have treated transgender inmates. In 2018, the Trump administration mandated that all federal inmates be housed according to their sex assigned at birth. That policy was reversed by the Biden administration in 2022. 


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