Law meant to protect transgender inmates sees pushback from female correctional officers

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – A correctional officer for California State Prison Sacramento in Folsom says she and several other female correction officers are upset over a new law requiring strip searches involving transgender inmates.

FOX40 is calling the officer “Annie” because she doesn’t want to be identified.

She says she fears she will be fired from her job as a corrections officer if prison administrations know her identity.

According to Annie, she and other correctional officers are not comfortable with the new law and new rules they must follow.

The law Annie is referring to is Senate Bill 132, known as “The Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act.”

SB 132 requires “the department, for a person who is transgender, nonbinary, or intersex to only conduct a search of that person according to the search policy for their gender identity or according to the gender designation of the facility where they are housed, based on the individual’s search preference.”

“They’ve already said we will be written up. All the way up to termination,” said Annie.

In an internal email obtained by FOX40, the prison administration says, “Female staff that do not want to perform the strip out will be given a direct order by the supervisor to perform the strip out and if they still refuse that supervisor will author a memo and provide it to the facility captain in regards to insubordination.”

“You’re ordered to go strip out this inmate in a secure room … it takes your power away,” Annie said. “Where’s the boundaries? Boundaries are gone.”

Judah Joslyn, director of Transgender Advocacy at the Trans Youth Collective, says those in the trans community are more likely to come in contact with violence and abuse in the prison system.

It’s a statistic that SB 132 also notes: “In California, a study of the state’s prisons found that the rate of sexual assault for transgender women in those prisons was 13 times higher than for men in the same prisons.”

“The prison system itself is the problem. It’s not just an issue between the inmates and the guards. It’s the system as a whole that creates this issue,” Joslyn said.

Joslyn says the issue is ongoing and there is no immediate fix.

“Everybody deserves to feel safe. Regardless of your circumstances,” Joslyn said. “They’re human beings, and they deserve to feel safety.”

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