Nevada Contemplates Bill To Help Satisfy Transgender Inmates’ Needs

A judge gavel.

The state Legislature recently saw the introduction of a proposed bill that would necessitate the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) to make regulations in transgender inmates’ handling. Those regulations would include training the staff, who communicate with the inmates who are not cisgenders, on cultural competence.

Senator Melanie Scheible has introduced SB 258, which would control standards for the inmates’ security, accommodation, supervision, and treatments. One of the potential treatments is genitoplasty, which is the scientific name for a form of surgery for gender confirmation.

Various progressive groups, plus the offices of both the Washoe County and Clark County public defenders supported the latest bill. It was also heard in the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Scheible said that she cannot imagine that dealing with gender identity disorder (GID) and being incarcerated is easy. Therefore, she said that dealing with both simultaneously appears to be incredibly tricky for anyone, so it is just cruel to make it more challenging.

The Nevada Department of Corrections’ Deborah Striplin said that the state has around 50 inmates who have identified themselves as being transgender. She was unaware of the number of transgenders diagnosed with GID.

As per research, violence rates among transgender inmates are high when in prison. Correctional officers or other inmates sexually or physically assaulted 30% of people who responded to a National Center for Transgender Equality survey’s questions.

There exists no regulation that keeps prison officers from preventing the hormone treatment of an inmate or unapproving their gender confirmation surgery, stated ACLU of Nevada’s policy director Holly Welborn. As per the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), surgery is medically required to make the person’s gender dysphoria less severe.

There is a 2019 court ruling for Nevada’s legislators to use in the form of a plan to craft legislation.

In 2019, a judiciary panel upheld the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that necessitated the Idaho Department of Correction to offer transgender inmate Adree Edmo the said surgery.

The US court found that the department’s denial of the surgery to Edmo accounted for unusual and cruel punishment that would breach Amendment VIII of the United States Constitution.

The courts in the US state jurisdiction understand that failing to offer the medically required gender dysphoria treatment possibly causes considerable injury and inflicts unnecessary pain on a jailed person, said Welborn.

Senator Keith Pickard expressed concerns regarding the excessive vagueness of the legal proposal, plus the need to discuss what standards the Nevada Department of Corrections should follow.

Scheible stated that the bill is a broad instruction to the department thereof while stressing that treatments including therapy and the said surgery could be part of the plans.

The bill does not specify the importance of covering that surgery and offering the hormones, said Scheible. Instead, it says that there should be a policy in place, and that you should produce some general standards for individuals with the specific needs who would enter the said department’s custody.