Protections for transgender people in Washington prisons

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In another win for trans people in the US, a Seattle federal judge has signed off on a settlement in a lawsuit over the treatment of transgender people in Washington prisons.

An agreement has been made to improve the conditions for transgender people incarcerated in Washington prisons.

Advocacy group Disability Rights Washington brought the suit against the state’s Department of Corrections. It was filed in federal court last Wednesday, after being delayed due to pandemic-related issues.

For the past six years, the group investigated the treatment of incarcerated trans people with disabilities in Washington prisons. They allege incidents where prison officials discouraged people from transitioning. They also say trans people in these prisons were denied hormone therapy and had strip searches conducted by guards of another gender. The new agreement will apply to all trans people.

Ethan Frenchman, a staff attorney for Disability Rights Washington praised the agreement. He described it as “one of the best and most comprehensive consent decrees in the country concerning the treatment of transgender people in prison.”

Already seeing improvements

Frenchman says the Department of Corrections has been moving in the right direction to improve conditions during the settlement process. He says the department provided its first gender-affirming surgery in 2020. He says that the decree “explicitly ties prison medical care to community Medicaid standards.”

The agreement requires one gender-affirming medical specialist across the prison system. It also requires one gender-affirming mental health specialist at every major prison.

The case is officially closed for now but could be reopened during a monitoring period.

“The consent decree will have the force of a court order, and permit DRW to continue to hold DOC accountable, should they not live up to their agreement,” Frenchman said.

Read More:

Philadelphia gender-affirming healthcare seekers protected.

Ellia Green slams World Athletics transgender ban.

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Brooke Tindall

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