A bill to let California inmates pick their sex and be housed with that sex was put on hold yesterday. Senator Scott Wiener’s office said time had run out to add the needed amendments necessary to ensure the bill’s passage. Since the legislative session for this year ends today, SB 132 was pulled from the Assembly floor agenda. The bill is expected to return next January for re-consideration.
The author, LGBT Caucus Chair Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), said the bill is necessary to protect transgender-identified people from “physical assaults” and to preserve their “basic dignity,” and “respect.” But Wiener opponents argued the bill disregards the privacy and dignity concerns of real, biological women and men, who would have to share personal, intimate living space with any opposite sex inmate claiming to be the same sex.
“I’m glad to see legislators have paused the passage of this bill to consider the safety and privacy concerns we have raised,” said California Family Council President Jonathan Keller. “Even in prison, males and females are guaranteed a constitutional right to privacy. The legislature should not victimize prisoners, especially biological women, by requiring them to allow members of the opposite sex into facilities that are currently female-only or male-only. I hope our representatives come to their senses and kill this proposal altogether.”
Besides the privacy issues, SB 132 violates the First Amendment rights of correction officers and contractors by forcing them to affirm a lie regarding an inmate’s perceived identity. The bill states that, “staff and contractors of the department shall not consistently fail to use the gender pronoun and honorific an individual has specified in all verbal and written communications with or regarding the individual that involve use of a pronoun and honorific.” An honorific means, the use of Mr., Ms., or the gender-neutral “Mx.”