California state senator Scott Wiener claims trans males MUST be transferred into women's prisons because 'trans women are more likely to be victimized by violence'

"We need to ensure trans women in prison are treated with dignity & housed safely."

On October 15, 2023, California Senator Scott Wiener tweeted in defense of his failing Senate Bill 132, a 2020 California law. SB 132 provides special privileges to males who self-identify as transgender, non-binary and intersex ("TNI"). These "special" prisoners can opt into a unique process to gain entrance into women's prisons to serve out their sentences. Wiener expressed dismay that male transferees have to wait too long to get into the women's prison, as though this was some sort of travesty of human rights abuse for these men.

Per a recent CalMatters report, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found that the number of transgender, intersex and nonbinary inmates consistently grew each year, rising to 1,617 last year. That's a 234 percent increase over 2017. A skeptic might conclude that this dramatic rise is due to a perceived "easy route" to gain access to women.

In his tweets, Wiener denies the harm that incarcerated women have experienced after being forced to live with male offenders, indicative of the cruelty and victim-shaming inherent in SB 132. In his view, men identifying themselves as women are far more at risk of violence than actual women. Senator Wiener's tweets that "trans women's" rights to dignity and safety outweigh those of the female prisoners. 

The male TNI prisons, however, are granted special privileges not afforded to other males or females. The California Office of the Inspector General (OIG) August 2023 report states that "each TNI person's perception of health and safety must be given serious consideration in any bed assignment, placement or programming decision within the prison they are housed including granting single-cell status, housing the individual with another incarcerated person whom the individual (TNI) chooses." Women prisoners, on the other hand, are not able to consent to having a cellmate without a penis or male body. 

The OIG report confirms WoLF's expressed concerns about the law in its 2021 lawsuit, Chandler v. CDCR, including the disparate treatment of women and the challenges in safely implementing the law. The OIG admits that neither Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) nor California Institution for Women (CIW) can create safe bathroom spaces for females. The report notes:


The report states that while the OIG was unable to confirm rapes or attempted rapes, it did confirm that some TNI transferees allegedly forcibly touched female prisoners or forced the females to touch them, which is undeniably sexual assault. The other forms of abuse perpetrated by the "dignified" male transferees include "physical violence and demeaning behavior" towards female prisoners. 

As for Senator Wiener's tweet that men would never pretend to be transgender to be housed with females, the OIG report also indicates that even many of the trans-identifying men in CCWF and CIW recognize that some male transfers are exploiting the law to gain special privileges, including sexual access to women.

Lauren Bone, lead counsel for WoLF in the Chandler v. CDCR, states that she has numerous recorded interviews, sworn declarations, and testimony that directly contradicts Senator Wiener's spurious claim that the incarcerated females are not placed in any danger when males are housed in locked cells with them. Senator Wiener insinuates in his tweets that even if the females are in a heightened danger of assault, that should be overlooked since prison guards were already assaulting female inmates. Strangely, Wiener does not make that same comparison for male-on-male sexual assaults when discussing "transgender men" inmates. This is a heinous violation of women's rights and dignity. 

Currently, there are 47 men in California women's prisons, and another estimated 95 waiting for entry, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's State Budget Change Proposal of January 2023. That number will grow given that there are currently 1,751 TGI inmates in the system.  

Despite Wiener's denial of women's safety concerns, there is good reason for women to worry. Dana Rivers was convicted in November of 2023 of the brutal revenge killing of Charlotte Reed, 56, her wife Patricia Wright, 57, and their son Benny Diambu-Wright, 19 in Oakland, California. Rivers, who identifies as a woman, will spend the rest of his life behind bars torturing that which he cannot become.

The UK also places men in women's prisons, with disastrous, though utterly predictable, results. Andrew Burns is serving a life sentence for crimes including stalking a young girl. After identifying as "Tiffany Scott," Burns was housed in an all-women's jail while awaiting sentencing, but was eventually moved following a public outcry that a rapist with male genitalia was locked up with women. 

The Daily Record reports that Burns was considered one of the most dangerous inmates. Burns then assaulted four prison guards. Isla Bryson (formerly Adam Graham) of Scotland, a convicted double-rapist who claimed to be transgender prior to sentencing, and was housed briefly in a women's prison as part of his eight-year sentence, until the public pushback forced him back to the men's prison. These cases highlight the dangers of laws like SB 132 that place violent men's desires over the safety of women. 

Given the uptick of TNI prisoners in California, a transgender prison seems like the most rational response, but as with most things that touch the transgender issue, critical thinking is replaced with a hierarchy of perceived victimization, with the most alleged marginalized victims wielding the most power.  

Sharon Byrne is the executive director of Women's Liberation Front, and Erin Friday is a California attorney and a self-described parent of a formerly gender-confused child. You can find them both on X at @sharonevolving and @ErinFriday75490.
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