Western Australia’s prisons improve their policies for transgender inmates

Western Australia’s prisons have adopted new policies designed to meet the needs of transgender and gender diverse prisoners.

Under the new policy from the Department of Justice prisoners who are transgender or gender diverse can who are on remand or sentenced to incarceration can ask to be housed in a facility that corresponds with their gender identity.

The new policy calls for a balance between the needs of the prisoner and welfare and rights of other inmates and staff. It was developed in consultation with Transfolk of WA, the WA AIDS Council, Curtin University and the WA Mental Health Commission.

Details of the updated policy were first revealed in the West Australian by reporter Josh Zimmerman.

The new policy requires staff to respect people’s names and pronouns and provide a safe space where they can disclose information about their gender identity. They must also let people know that they can change their information down the track.

Prisoners will now have a choice of the gender of the guard who conducts searches of their body, and transgender prisoners will always be given a single cell and be ensured privacy for showers and toilet facilities.

Previously transgender prisoners were sometime places in isolation from other prisoners, leaving them with limited interaction with other people and harsh solitary conditions.

The ultimate decision on where a transgender prisoner will be housed will be up to prison authorities who will need to conduct a risk assessment. A spokesperson for the department said that this would mean that a legally documented male prisoner with a history of sexual assault would not be placed in a female facility.

Currently there are five prisoners in Western Australia’s male facilities who identify as transgender.

OIP Staff

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