Blue states consider letting anatomical males into women's prisons, hiding their backgrounds

Maryland legislation would copy California, which is being sued by female inmates, while Washington House approves bill in response to leaks about violent male offenders housed with women.

Updated: February 20, 2022 - 10:19pm

As West Coast states deal with the fallout of putting anatomically male inmates in women's prisons, the East Coast is looking to join the club.

Maryland is considering legislation similar to a California law that lets inmates choose their correctional facility based on self-declared gender identity, an option that concerned even transgender inmates in the Golden State.

A purported draft executive order by President Joe Biden would do the same to federal prisons, prompting GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to introduce opposing legislation.

One chamber of the Washington State Legislature recently approved the nuclear option to deal with ongoing scrutiny of its transgender transfers: hiding basic information about male inmates, including their reported assaults on women, from the public.

The Women's Liberation Front (WoLF) is active in all three state fights, most recently testifying against the Maryland legislation (HB 453, SB 550) at two committee hearings this month.

The gender-critical feminist group, which defends sex-based rights, emphasized the Maryland proposals contain no exceptions for "male prisoners who have been convicted of rape or domestic assault." 

Legal director Lauren Adams told Just the News the legislation isn't getting much attention "even locally." A search of The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Capital Gazette, the Legislature's hometown newspaper, found no coverage since the bills were introduced last month.

The legislation tacitly acknowledges that it would make Maryland prisons coed, prohibiting discrimination against inmates on the basis of both sex and gender identity. 

Inmates "shall" be housed in men's or women's facilities, and bodily searches performed, based on their "preference." The corrections department can only veto the preference "due to specific and articulable management or security concerns," which must be provided in writing to the denied inmate. "Anatomy" is not a basis for denial.

Incoming inmates would be affirmatively asked for their gender identity and pronouns, and whether they identify as "transgender, nonbinary, or intersex."

Prison staff would be required to let inmates update their gender identity "at any time" upon their request, and use their pronouns in all communications regarding inmates, even when they aren't present. 

The predictable results of the legislation are known from California, according to WoLF, which is suing the state on behalf of female inmates on 1st, 8th and 14th Amendment grounds. Anatomical males have assaulted or become sexually active with female inmates, Adams previously told the John Solomon Reports podcast.

Woman II Woman, an advocacy group run by ex-convicts, claimed female inmates had started "sleep schedules so that one woman is always on watch to make sure no one gets raped."

Earlier this month the Washington House approved a bill (HB 1956) that would prevent the public from learning about such violence, though the amended version is substantially shorter than the original.

It exempts a broad swath of "health information" about individual inmates from public records requests, including "transgender, intersex, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming status" and "genital anatomy." 

Also shielded: "gender-affirming care or accommodations," which includes homone therapy to make males look more feminine, and information "created or maintained pursuant to" the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The chamber's majority Democrats portray the legislation as protecting "extremely sensitive information" about inmates, such as "body scanner images," from public records requests. HB 1956 had its first Senate hearing Friday.

The bill, however, was prompted by a prison guard's claims a year ago that the state was transferring anatomical males into a women's facility based on gender identity alone, including a "serial killer whose victims were all women."

Another transfer was a "proven sexual predator" who then attacked an inmate "with the mental capacity of a five-year-old," but the incident was intentionally not recorded, the anonymous guard told KIRO Radio host Dori Monson. 

In a subsequent episode, Monson said more sources "on the inside" confirmed the allegations and added new details, including that the sexual predator had been charged with having sex with a 12-year-old. Monson also identified inmates with male names in the women's prison. 

The ACLU convinced a federal court to stop the Department of Corrections from answering a records request for non-identifying information: a "complete and accurate count of inmates who identify as transgender" and how many inmates had transferred to and from women's prisons.

Monson returned to the story last week, claiming the Department of Corrections, which refused to discuss transgender inmates, was now backing HB 1956. Cosponsor and Democratic Rep. Roger Goodman told the host he wasn't aware of the allegations against the transfers, which the department didn't discuss with Goodman.

If HB 1956 passes, the public can't learn "how many men are housed in women's prisons in Washington, how many of them still retain their male genitalia, and whether they are commiting violent acts against the women they are locked up with," WoLF said.

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