This post was written by Coral Feigin, a member of the 2016-17 Women’s Policy Insitute-State criminal justice team.
How will you #BeBoldForChange this International Women’s Day? Honor the dignity of incarcerated trans people.
Our Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) operates on one guiding principle: transforming communities across California by empowering grassroots leaders to boldly address inequities at home. This year, the Criminal Justice WPI team has partnered with State Senator Toni Atkins (San Diego) to introduce legislation to make it easier for trans people to legally change their name and gender marker on their identification documents while incarcerated.
Transgender people face violence and discrimination because of their identities and often struggle with housing, employment and healthcare access. As a result, we often find ways to survive inside criminalized street economies; this exacerbates the over-criminalization we face from law enforcement, known as the “walking while trans” effect. Transgender people across California are regularly and systematically denied the dignity that we all deserve.
Our bill, Senate Bill 310, empowers incarcerated transgender people to submit their legal request to change their name and gender the same way as non-incarcerated people do – leveling the playing field and allowing all people to access the necessary mechanisms to live their gender identities.
Without this legislation, incarcerated transgender people struggle to change their names and legal gender through bureaucratic dead-ends, flat-out denials and overly burdensome lawsuits. If passed, this bill will be an important win for the dignity and well-being of transgender people: it will make re-entering society after incarceration easier and more safer for individuals, as well as reduce recidivism.