PRESS RELEASE: DOC and Disability Rights Washington Agree to Changes to Treatment of Transgender Incarcerated Individuals
Released October 11, 2023Contact Chris Wright Communications Office
TUMWATER — The Department of Corrections (DOC) and Disability Rights Washington (DRW) have reached an agreement that will further improve the conditions of confinement for transgender individuals in the department’s care and custody. DOC and DRW had been negotiating this settlement since 2019.
Under the terms agreed upon, DOC will designate a Gender-Affirming Mental Health Specialist at each prison, require more transgender-focused training to correctional officers and provide gender-affirming clothing to transgender individuals. The agency will be monitored for three years to make sure it is properly complying with the agreement.
“This is a landmark agreement and we look forward to continuing to work closely with DRW to implement it,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “We have already made substantial improvements to the gender-affirming care offered to transgender incarcerated individuals in recent years, and this is another step in the right direction.”
Some other highlights of the agreement include:
- DOC will ensure that transgender individuals in restrictive housing still have access to gender-affirming property.
- Pat-downs and searches of transgender individuals will be performed by a correctional officer of the gender formally requested by the transgender individual.
The department has already taken significant steps to update its policies to ensure the equitable treatment transgender, intersex and non-binary incarcerated individuals since Secretary Strange’s arrival in 2021. Those updated and available policies are:
- DOC 490.700 Transgender, Intersex, and/or Non-Binary Individuals
- DOC 440.050 State Issued Items
- DOC 440.000 Personal Property in Prisons
- DOC 420.310 Searches of Incarcerated Individuals
DOC also created one of the country’s first Women’s Prison Divisions in the country in 2021. Since its inception, the division has worked diligently to design and deliver programs and resources tailored to meet the needs of incarcerated women.