Canada Will Allow Transgender Prison Inmates To Be Housed According To Gender Identity

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Ian Miles Cheong Contributor
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Canada is bringing about changes to its federal prisons that will allow inmates to be housed according to the “gender identity” of their personal choice.

The Globe and Mail reports Wednesday that changes are being brought to the way transgender prisoners are housed, allowing them to be placed in a men’s or women’s facility based on how they personally identify.

Prison staff must also address these inmates by their preferred name and pronoun. They will also be provided with items from both men’s and women’s items from the prison catalogue, regardless of their anatomy or the gender on their official documents.

Transgender inmates are also provided with “individualized protocols” that include special accommodations when using shower and toilet facilities. They will be provided the choice of male or female officers when conducting strip searches, urine testing, and camera surveillance.

In addition, the changes will prohibit correctional staff from disclosing an inmate’s gender identity publicly — confidential information that can only be shared if relevant, and to those directly involved with their care.

The alterations to existing policies follow the federal government’s addition of “gender identity and expression” to its list of prohibitions on discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act in June 2017.

“We are overjoyed that CSC is making so many positive changes that recognize the human rights of trans people in the correctional system,” said Jennifer Metcalfe, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, who added that the changes will “improve the safety and dignity of transgender federal offenders in Canada, affecting every daily aspect of their lives.”

Her statement was made in coordination with Prisoners’ Legal Services, the Correctional Service of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

According to Marie-Claude Landry, the head of the CHRC, the reforms are in line with policies that respect transgender prisoners’ respect and human dignity. Her words were echoed by Corrections Commissioner Don Head, who said that the organization is “committed to building a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment for everyone, including transgender staff, offenders, volunteers and visitors,” the Globe and Mail reports.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.