The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a brief in a support of dismissing a lawsuit seeking to halt the transfer of male inmates to women’s prisons. In the brief, the ACLU claims that denying male sex offenders transfer to women’s prisons is “discriminatory” and “unconstitutional.”
The lawsuit was brought against the state of California in 2021 after the Women’s Liberation front (WoLF) began representing four female inmates currently incarcerated in the state who had experienced violations of their rights at the hands of male inmates who had been transferred. One of the female inmates involved in WoLF’s suit is a victim of sexual assault by a trans-identified male transferred under SB-132.
SB-132, or the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act, went into effect in January of 2021, and allowed male inmates to seek transfer to women’s prisons on the basis of self-declared gender identity. Male inmates do not have to be on hormones, have surgery, be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or even have legal documents supporting their transgender status in order to gain transfer.
On May 9, the ACLU filed a proposal to intervene in the suit, claiming that the state of California could not adequately represent their interests against WoLF, and that they must join in to defend SB-132.
But a legal brief filed by the ACLU on May 16 now reveals part of its key argument against WoLF’s lawsuit includes a wild assertion that trans-identified male offenders should not be denied transfer under any circumstances related to their criminal history — including if they are sex offenders.
In the brief, the ACLU argues that so long as females who are convicted of crimes against women are allowed to be housed in women’s prisons, there is no basis to prevent males with similar convictions from entry.
Speaking with Reduxx on the brief, WoLF Legal Director Lauren Adams says she wasn’t surprised by the ACLU’s decision to take this approach, but was still incredulous at how “brazen” it was.
“They’re openly telling the court that moving over 300 men, including nearly 100 sex offenders into a facility full of women is safe, practical, and doesn’t violate the female inmate’s rights.”
Adams points out that the ACLU quotes breakthrough anti-sex discrimination precedents to claim that denying males access to female spaces is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
“They took a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsberg when she was sitting on the Supreme Court and overseeing the Virginia Military Institute case … [the ACLU] took a quote in which she was stating that an all-male policy reflected generalizations about how women are, and used that to argue that suggesting women don’t have penises is a discriminatory generalization about how women are.”
Adams adds that some of the ACLU’s arguments are stronger than others, but that she “wouldn’t want to be the one” in the position of trying to put forth their case.
“I do believe the ACLU is effectively attempting to make the argument that a male cannot be denied transfer under any circumstances. I don’t know if they are trying to put forth that argument, but that’s what they’re doing.”
While the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) has claimed there is guidance in place to prevent the transfer of high-risk male offenders into the female estate, few males have been denied transfer so far, and the reasons for their denial are unknown.
According to Keep Prisons Single Sex USA, 33.8% of all male inmates seeking transfer to women’s prisons are sex offenders, and the Bureau of Prisons has affirmed that sex offenders are responsible for up to 50% of rapes which occur within prisons.
Adams says WoLF will be spending the rest of the month organizing their response to the ACLU’s brief.
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