Thursday 12 October 2023

Washington Pledges To Increase Correctional Officers’ ‘Transgender Focused Training’ In Legal Settlement

 Disability Rights Washington (DRW) reached a settlement with the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) on Wednesday, requiring it to provide more “transgender-focused training” to guards and give sex-change hormones to prisoners at major jails in the state, court records show.

The complaint alleged that the DOC had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Eighth Amendment by not providing prisoners with disabilities who identify as transgender with gender reassignment surgeries or allowing them to cross-dress in prisons, according to the press release. DRW and the DOC had been in discussions since 2019 to create the settlement, but the DRW waited to file the complaint until the settlement terms had been finalized, a DOC spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. 

“This is a landmark agreement and we look forward to continuing to work closely with DRW to implement it,” DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange wrote in a press release. “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.”

Under the new agreement, prisoners who claim to be transgender will only be strip and pat-down searched by guards whose gender is the same as the one prisoners “identify” with and will be allowed to privately shower and change their clothes, according to the settlement. Prisoners will also receive “clothes and property” that aligns with the gender they claim to be and will be “promptly evaluated” for sex-change surgeries.

Major prisons will also be required to have a medical “specialist” for transgender prisoners, along with therapists and “community consultants” to assist prisoners who identify as transgender, the settlement noted. All guards and correctional officers will be required to go through “transgender-focused training” as well, according to the DOC press release.

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