Washington Improves Conditions for Transgender Inmates in State Prisons

Author: Christopher Wiggins

The Washington State Department of Corrections has initiated steps to refine the treatment of transgender inmates across its facilities.

It follows a complaint and a settlement agreement submitted in federal court by Disability Rights Washington on Wednesday, Tacoma-area radio station KIRO reports. The complaint elucidated alleged violations by the DOC of the U.S. Constitution, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act, focusing on transgender inmates with disabilities.

Central to the allegations was the DOC’s purported failure to provide timely medical and mental health care to transgender inmates and its use of harmful and unnecessary cross-gender strip and pat-down searches. Additionally, the complaint accused the DOC of discriminating against transgender inmates with disabilities concerning gender-affirming medical and mental health care and a lack of adaptation in policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate these inmates.

In response to the settlement, the DOC has pledged to designate a gender-affirming mental health specialist in each prison, mandate more extensive transgender-focused training for correctional officers, and provide gender-affirming clothing to trans inmates. The protocol for conducting pat-downs and searches will be updated, now to be executed by a correctional officer of the gender formally specified by the transgender individual.

DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange emphasized the importance of this agreement.

“We have already made substantial improvements to the gender-affirming care offered to transgender incarcerated individuals in recent years, and this is another step in the right direction,” she told KIRO.

A three-year monitoring period has been instituted for the DOC to ensure compliance with the new provisions.

The initiative reflects a broader endeavor to ease conditions and uphold the rights of trans people within the correctional system, highlighting a growing acknowledgment of their needs and rights.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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