More than 200,000 youth and adults are sexually abused in prisons, jails and juvenile detention facilities each year, and a disproportionate number are transgender and gender nonconforming people. Hard work over several years by NCTE and other trans, LGBT and intersex advocates paid off in May with the release by the Department of Justice of final National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape, which have the potential to be a big part of the solution. NCTE has created a fact sheet regarding the new standards, which were called for by the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), and which facilities across the country will have to follow in order to maintain federal funding or required accreditations.
LGBT People and the Prison Rape Elimination Act highlights and explains the sections most relevant to transgender people, the broader LGBT community, and those people with intersex conditions such as:
- Requiring a case-by-case consideration for housing in a male or female facility that is not based on genital status, meaning more trans women will be housed with other women.
- Limitations on the use of isolating “protective custody” to which trans people are often subjected.
- Limitations to ensure that special housing units do not become a stigmatizing and ineffective quick-fix for housing LGBT and gender nonconforming people and those with intersex conditions.
- Requiring staff training on working with transgender and gender nonconforming inmates as well as LGBT people more broadly and those with intersex conditions.
- Banning the search or physical examination of transgender inmates and those with intersex conditions solely for determining their genital status.
- New requirements for staff hiring, inmate screening, reporting and investigating abuse, and provider support to abuse survivors.
Seven percent of respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey reported being locked up at some point in their lives because of their gender identity. These rates skyrocketed for Black (41%) and Latino/a (21%) people. Once incarcerated, transgender people are at alarming risk. A California study found that transgender women housed in men’s prisons were 13 times more likely to report sexual assault than other inmates.
We hope this resource will help LGBT and intersex advocates work for strong implementation of the PREA standards at the state and local level, as well as providing basic information for individuals in confinement those working with them. See the fact sheet here [Transgender People and the Prison Rape Elimination Act] for more information on the new Standards, how to report abuse, and what still needs to be done.