Major positive changes have arrived for transgender offenders in the Canadian federal prison system. A joint statement from the Correctional Service of Canada, Prisoners’ Legal Services, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission revealed the new reforms are the result of “years of collaboration” (Cuddington, 2018).
Under the new CSC policy, transgender inmates will now be placed in an institution of their choice, based on their gender identity. The decision to be placed in either a men’s or women’s institution will be granted “regardless of their anatomy (sex) or gender on their identification documents, unless there are overriding health or safety concerns which cannot be resolved.” (Harris, 2018). The new policy has emerged in light of recent changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act, where “gender identity or expression” was added to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
Under the policy guidelines, new operational practices will also include:
- The CSC using an offender’s preferred name and pronoun in all communication and interaction, as well as in written documentation.
- Improving the privacy and confidentiality of information relating to the gender identity of an offender (this information will only be shared with those directly involved with the relevant care of the offender).
- Allowing offenders to purchase authorized items for either men or women from CSC catalogues, as long as there are no threats to health, safety, and security.
- Individual protocols being established for those offenders who wish to be accommodated on the basis of gender identity or expression, including access to showers and toilets, spiritual ceremonies, frisk and strip searches, and camera surveillance (Harris, 2018).
Overall, the new changes aim to ensure that transgender offenders are given the same protections, dignity, and treatment as all other inmates (Harris, 2018).
Cuddington, W. (2018, January 31). Federal transgender inmates to be housed, addressed according to their gender identity . National Post . Retrieved from http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/federal-transgender-inmates-to-be-housed-addressed-according-to-gender-identity.
Harris, K. (2018, January 31). Canada’s prison system overhauls transgender inmate policy. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/transgender-inmates-csc-policy-1.4512510.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.