This past Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed bill SB 132 that will allow prison inmates to be housed based on their "gender identity."
Gender identity, as defined by Britannica, is "an individual's self-conception as a man or woman or as a boy or girl or as some combination of man/boy and woman/girl or as someone fluctuating between man/boy and woman/girl or as someone outside those categories altogether." It, therefore, differs from biological sex, which is based on one's anatomy at birth.
Thus, SB 132 will require the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation to "house the person in a correctional facility designated for men or women based on the individual's preference," as well as to use the desired pronouns and honorifics desired by the individual. With its passing, Newsom hopes that SB 132 will strengthen protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in California. However, critics had much to say over this new bill, and many believe that it would achieve the opposite of what Newsom hopes.
"Allowing men to identify into being incarcerated with women, and this is unlikely to be used by women to get into men's prisons, constitutes a depraved indifference to the safety and dignity of women held in custody by the State of California," Natasha Chart, board chair of the Women's Liberation Front, stated.
She further elaborated explaining, "The state should do better to make men's prisons safe for all men, not pass laws to allow some at-risk men to stay with the women in lower-security facilities. Critically, a man being targeted for violence by other men doesn't make that man safe company for women. Consider that sex offenders are especially despised in men's prisons, and would be highly motivated to take advantage of this law. But they're the last men who ought to be allowed to do so, and there isn't even a recognition of this context anywhere in the bill."
Along with signing SB 132, Newsom also adopted bill AB 2218, which would establish a Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. This fund would give grants to healthcare organizations serving "transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex (TGI)" individuals to facilitate gender treatments such as hormones and surgeries.
Although Newsom believes this bill to be taking another step towards better equality, many critics fear that the bill "opens the door to drugs and surgeries causing irreversible damage, risking life-long sterility for young people."
Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council is one such particularly vocal critic, and stated, "By rejecting the concerns of doctors and parents and siding with LGBT activists, Governor Newsom yet again ignoring the heartbreak his policies will unleash. Sadly, the Governor failed in his God-given responsibility to protect the people he was elected to serve."