Trump rolls back some Obama rules helping transgender prisoners

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President Donald Trump is defending his administration’s trade dealings with China a day after his Treasury secretary said the two countries were putting a trade war “on hold.” | AP file photo

The Bureau of Prisons rolled back some measures on Friday that help prevent transgender prisoners from harassment, assault, and sexual abuse.

The rules, posted just two days before President Trump’s inauguration, laid out a number of guidelines for how prisons and guards should treat transgender inmates.

The manual instructed prisons to “recommend housing by gender identity when appropriate.”

Now, under President Trump, some of the policies have been altered, according to an updated manual posted to the Bureau of Prisons website Friday.

Officials will now use “biological sex as the initial determination” for where transgender inmates are housed. The line recommending housing by gender equality was struck out and highlighted.

The new policy notes “the designation to a facility of the inmate’s identified gender would be appropriate only in rare cases.” The guide says “health” and safety” of the inmate should be considered when deciding where they will be housed.

Transgender inmates face a higher rate of sexual assault than other inmates, according to a study on statistics from more than 600 correctional facilities during 2011 and 2012.

The analysis by the Bureau of Justice found more than one in three transgender inmates in state and federal prisons had been sexually assaulted within a year. In the general population, one in about 25 inmates said they’d experienced sexual assault.

The changes to the manual also include adding the word “necessary” to a section about hormone and medical treatment. The section is now titled “hormone and necessary medical treatment,” a possible signal on rollbacks for certain procedures or treatments.

BuzzFeed News, which first reported the change, noted the change comes after four women filed a lawsuit in Texas that targeted the Obama-era rule and protections for transgender inmates, which were put in place in 2012.

The women said housing transgender women with the general female population was dangerous and “increases the potential for rape.” They said in the suit that the measure violates their privacy and harms their mental state.

Nancy Ayers, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, told BuzzFeed News the changes better articulate “the balance of safety needs of transgender inmates as well as other inmates, including those with histories of trauma, privacy concerns” and that matters would be handled on a “case-by-case basis.”

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