CA Gov. Newsom signs prison reform bill into law

Fox News reports that Gavin Newsom (D), the progressive governor of California, has signed into law a bill that requires transgender inmates to be housed in prison according to the inmate’s gender identity.  

The phrase “gender identity” stands in contrast to one’s biological sex. Under this bill, one’s self-identified gender, not one’s biological sex, will determine whether an inmate in California is housed with biological male or biological female prisoners.

How it works

Under the law passed by Newsom, officers in California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will now be required to privately ask inmates, when they are initially processed, how they self-identify – as transgender, nonbinary, or intersex.

At the same time, inmates can request to be placed in either a male or a female prison.

The CDCR will be allowed to turn such requests down if there are “management or security concerns.” In such cases, the state of California will be required to explain in writing why it rejected the request and it will also be required to allow the inmate an opportunity to “meaningfully object.” Then, if the inmate raises a concern about health or safety, the state is required to reassess the inmate’s housing request.

The CDCR, however, will not be able to turn down a prisoner’s request solely on the basis of that individual’s anatomy or sexual orientation.

In addition, prison officers are required by this new law to address transgender inmates by the pronoun of the inmate’s choice.

Newsom celebrates

Newsom, upon signing the legislation, put forth a statement in which he called the new law a “step forward.”

“California has some of the strongest pro LGBTQ+ laws in the nation and with the bills signed today, our march toward equality takes an additional step forward,” he said.

California, typically, leads the way with such so-called progressive legislation. But, here state officials were a little behind the game as New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have all already passed such laws. This fact, however, clearly didn’t stop Newsom from bragging about California’s “progressiveness.”

But, just how truly progressive is it?

Advocates of the law point to the dangers associated with a transgender woman being housed in male prison facilities. But, what about the biological male prisoner who, aware of this law, pretends to be a transgender in order to get housed in a female prison? Wouldn’t this put the biological female prisoners at risk? And, isn’t a biological male being housed with biological female inmates more of a danger than a biological male who identifies as a female being housed with male inmates?

One wonders just how much of a “step forward” this law actually is. Either way, its on the books now. We’ll have to see how this one works out.

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