Yusef Najafi, Activists Offer Measured Praise for Transgender Plans, Metro Weekly,
March 5, 2009
On Feb. 20 the D.C. Department of Corrections issued its new policy regarding the
treatment of transgender inmates. The document was drafted after activists, including
the DC Trans Coalition, sent a list of revisions to the DOC in response to a Jan.
5 operations memorandum.
Some of those changes were approved.
"We got a provision included about strip searches that, unless there's [unique circumstances],
transgender inmates be strip searched privately, not in front of other inmates or
unnecessary staff," says Darby Hickey, policy associate for Just Detention International.
"That seemed like a pretty important change." Other proposed changes, like asking
that transgender inmates be called by the correct pronouns, were not. The DOC says
it is its policy to use "Inmate" followed by the last name of the person in every
Keeping a positive outlook on the progress that's been made, Hickey says, "It's
a great start.
"It's definitely one of the better policies in the country, regarding jails and
What's new is the implementation of a transgender committee, made up of a medical
practitioner, a mental-health clinician, a correctional supervisor and a DOC-approved
volunteer, who will determine the placement of each transgender inmate within 72
hours of intake.
Inmates would be qualified for this analysis, according to the Feb. 20 document,
if they: "indicate that they are transgendered or intersex at anytime during their
custody," if their gender identity differs from their "birth genitalia," or if a
designation is made by a public entity, government agency or law enforcement agency.
"At this point, I think folks will be focusing on making sure [the policy] translates
from the paper to the practice," Hickey says.