Transgender People And Lock-Up
The targeting of transgender people is nothing new. Most transgender individuals can tell you that they have endured bullying and harassment for as long as they can remember. This, in itself, is a problem. Perhaps even more concerning, however, is when cruelty and mistreatment come from the very authority figures who are trusted to protect and defend them.
Fears of Police
The statistics tell the story: nearly 60 percent of transgender people are reluctant to seek police assistance when they need it. That’s because the transgender community—particularly those of color– feel that they are often profiled and harassed, by law enforcement.
The harassment doesn’t end after transgender people are arrested and sent to prison. The rates of exploitation and abuse are horrendous—with physical and sexual attacks by fellow prisoners occurring at ten times the rate of other inmates, and such assault from staff occurring at five times the rate it occurs with other inmates. On top off these attacks, transgender inmates report long stints in solitary confinement and being denied necessary medical attention. In total, more than one-third of transgender individuals report having been raped while in prison—and that number is thought to be on the lower side of reality.
One of the biggest problems for transgender people who are locked up is the fact that they are nearly always housed based on their gender identification at birth, not their current identity. Transgender women are therefore locked up with men, putting them at significant risk of rape and violence. Despite requests to be relocated to women’s facilities, these women are generally denied such transfers. This is despite laws requiring states to evaluate placements on a case-by-case basis and to consider where inmates would feel the most safe. In fact, of the nearly 5,000 transgender people currently in state prisons, only about a dozen are housed based on their lived gender identity.
In addition to asking trans people where they would feel safest, federal law requires an interview twice yearly thereafter. The concerns of these inmates and their experience with violent encounters is supposed to be weighed as officials make housing determinations. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is intended to protect all prisoners, and specifically transgender people who are at highest risk of violence. States who refuse to comply are supposed to be at risk of dropping significant federal funds from their coffers—but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Some believe that’s because specific benchmarks are not laid out, giving states the leeway to do as they please.
Fighting for Human Rights
Transgender rights are human rights. At Lobo Law there is no question about that. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. If you or a loved one is a transgender individual who is struggling with legal issues, our Las Vegas criminal lawyers are here to fight for the best possible outcomes. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office to discuss your situation today.