Prisoners’ Legal Services Applauds BC Corrections’ New Trans Policy
Prisoners’ Legal Services applauds BC Corrections decision to amend its policy on transgender prisoners to comply with human rights law. The new policy is similar to the policy implemented by the Ontario Correctional service, which requires:
- placement according to gender, unless there are overriding health or safety concerns that cannot be resolved;
- transgender prisoners to be given the opportunity to choose the gender of officers performing frisk or strip searches;
- transgender prisoners to retain personal items necessary to express their gender and to be provided preferred institutional clothing;
- transgender prisoners to be integrated into the general population, rather than in solitary confinement, unless there are proven overriding health and safety concerns which cannot be resolved;
- transgender prisoners to be given private shower and toilet facilities;
- transgender prisoners to be addressed by their preferred names and gender pronouns verbally and in written documents; and
- training and education for staff on gender identity and expression.
BC’s new policy goes further to protect the rights of transgender prisoners by prohibiting double bunking (sharing a cell) if a transgender prisoner is ever housed according to their birth sex, allowing prisoners to order canteen items according to their gender, and providing training to prisoners if appropriate.
BC Corrections consulted with Prisoners’ Legal Services in developing its new transgender prisoner policy. Prisoners’ Legal Services believes the policy may be the best example of any jurisdiction in Canada and the world for the accommodation of transgender prisoners. BC transgender prisoners are now protected by policy from being put at risk of sexual harassment and assault, and are now afforded the dignity and equality that all people deserve.