Since California‘s Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act went into effect on Jan. 1, 261 transgender, intersex and gender-nonbinary inmates have requested transfers to a prison that houses the opposite sex.
Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a law last year, letting self-identified transgender prisoners decide if they would prefer to reside in a male or female prison, no matter their biological sex, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Of 261 transfer requests, 255 (97.7%) have been biological males asking for transfers to female prisons, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Six biological females have said they want to move to male prisons.
Guards at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla told the inmates that “men are coming.”
The female inmates fear that the biological males, who call themselves transgender women, will rape them.
The prison staff said “that if we think it’s bad now, be prepared for the worst,” biologically female inmate Tomiekia Johnson told the Times. “That it’s going to be off the hook, it’s going to be jumping.”
While some female prisoners may delight in the ensuing bedlam, others will face the added burden of having to care for their fellow inmates.
“They say we’re going to need a facility that’s going to be like a maternity ward,” Johnson said. “They say we’re going to have an inmate program where inmates become nannies.”
Thus far, California’s prison system has approved 21 of the housing-transfer requests and transferred four male inmates to the Chowchilla facility.
The biological males who have requested transfers to female prisons said they were ready for the transition.
“I won’t be around predatory men and I won’t be around staff that frown upon trans women,” said Kelly Blackwell, a biological male who has taken female sex hormones for 20 years.
California’s law does not establish any criteria for transfer requests.
California Prisons spokeswoman Terry Thornton said that “a person’s gender identity is self-reported and CDCR will evaluate any request submitted by an incarcerated person for gender-based housing.”