Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Absolutely Unconscionable': Trump Rolls Back Rules Protecting Transgender Inmates from Sexual Assault

"The administration is clearly prepared to encourage federal prisons to violate federal law and advance its own inhumane agenda."

Jake Johnson

"Once again, the Trump administration is turning its back on those most vulnerable," Richard Saenz, a staff attorney at Lambda Legal, said in a statement. (Photo: Reuters)

In a policy shift LGBTQ rights groups denounced as "a deliberate recipe for violence against transgender people," the Trump administration on Friday rolled back rules allowing transgender inmates to use facilities that match their gender identity and instructed federal officials to use "biological sex" in determining housing assignments.

"This administration seems to be using every opportunity to roll back progress for transgender people."
—Vanita Gupta, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

"The extreme rates of physical and sexual violence faced by transgender people in our nation's prisons is a stain on the entire criminal justice system," Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement responding to the Trump administration's move. "Instead of leaving the existing policy alone, the administration is clearly prepared to encourage federal prisons to violate federal law and advance its own inhumane agenda."

According to Buzzfeed, which first reported the rule rollback on Friday, the White House's policy shift "comes after four evangelical Christian women in a Texas prison sued in U.S. District Court to challenge the Obama-era guidelines," asserting that sharing facilities with transgender women put them in danger.

The Trump administration appears to have accepted this claim wholesale.

Last August, Trump's Justice Department announced that it would "evaluate" the issues raised in the Texas case, and on Friday the administration issued new "guidelines that instruct officials to 'use biological sex as the initial determination for designation' for screening, housing, and offering programming services, saying the policy is 'consistent with maintaining security and good order in Federal prisons,'" Buzzfeed reports.

"Once again, the Trump administration is turning its back on those most vulnerable. It is well established that transgender prisoners—particularly transgender women housed in men's facilities—suffer much greater rates of sexual abuse than other prison populations," Richard Saenz, a staff attorney at Lambda Legal, said in a statement. "Conversely, it is increasingly common for correctional facilities to house transgender people consistent with their gender identity, and agencies have made these placements without experiencing any increase in abusive incidents or security risks."

"There is no justification for this policy shift; it is a deliberate recipe for violence against transgender people based in inexcusable prejudice," Saenz added.

Responding to the Trump administration's rule changes on Friday, Vanita Gupta, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the shift is part of the White House's broad anti-LGBTQ agenda that has already significantly impacted numerous sectors of American society.

"This administration seems to be using every opportunity to roll back progress for LGBTQ and transgender people, even against the grain of where the American public is, and is headed, on these issues," Gupta concluded.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·


Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·


Ukraine Responds to Putin Annexations With Fast-Track NATO Application

Lamenting the lack of any progress toward a diplomatic settlement, one anti-war campaigner asked: "Will the world stand idly by as we careen towards nuclear apocalypse?"

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo