News Spotlight: DOC Transgender Housing Policy
April 18, 2023
There has been misinformation circulating on social media over the last few days about the program for transgender incarcerated individuals at the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) that has resulted in the harassment of WCCW staff. We want to provide some facts about the program.
The Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) strongly emphasizes the importance of inclusion and representation by recognizing the unique challenges that non-binary and transgender incarcerated people face.
The policy, DOC 490.700 Transgender, Intersex, and/or Gender Non-binary Housing and Supervision(pdf), establishes procedures to ensure equitable treatment of transgender, intersex and/or gender non-binary people during intake screening and determining housing, classification, programming and supervision. All people under DOC’s care and custody are assessed upon intake and, if they self-identify as transgender, intersex and/or gender non-binary, the policy provides detailed guidance on placement and programming. The DOC Health Plan(pdf) provides further guidance on healthcare related issues.
Often, people may think that those who are non-binary or transgender want to be moved to a facility that matches their gender, but this isn’t always the case.
In fact, a common myth perpetuated about people who are transgender is that they will commit crimes of assault against vulnerable populations. This is not the case. However, any person incarcerated at DOC suspected of committing a crime, is subject to the same laws regardless of where they are housed or their gender.
DOC has developed a comprehensive housing assignment process to determine where an incarcerated individual is housed considering objective criteria that includes their gender identity. If a person identifies as transgender or non-binary, they participate in a thorough mental health assessment, healthcare assessment and facility evaluation. Several multidisciplinary teams must review all requests for transfer for a final placement determination. Each situation is considered on a case-by-case basis, with a focus on safety both for the individual and those who are housed at the facility.
It is DOC’s position that a person’s right to safe and humane treatment does not change based on their gender identity.
DOC continues to actively work with community outreach organizations to identify and address possible systemic issues regarding housing, mental health and medical services for people who identify as transgender, and the agency remains committed to the health and safety of all people in its custody.