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Canada’s Prisons Will Now Place Offenders Based on Gender Identity, Not Anatomy

Federal offenders who identify as transgender will now be allowed to serve their prison sentences in facilities that match their gender identity, instead of their anatomy.

The new Correctional Service Canada (CSC) policy states that transgender inmates can now choose where they will be placed, “regardless of their anatomy or gender on their identification documents, unless there are overriding health or safety concerns which cannot be resolved.”

Furthermore, the new policy guidelines include implementing gender-inclusive language, ensuring the privacy of information related to an inmate’s gender identity, and ensuring the use of an offender’s preferred name and pronoun, among others, according to CBC.

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“We are overjoyed that CSC is making so many positive changes that recognize the human rights of trans people in the correctional system. These changes will improve the safety and dignity of transgender federal offenders in Canada, affecting every aspect of their daily lives,” Jennifer Metcalfe, executive director of Prisoners' Legal Services, said in a statement.

There is limited research on transgender people in the country, but independent organizations like Trans PULSE have begun their own research.

The trans population has high levels of unemployment, workplace discrimination, and poverty, all factors that make them more likely to experience incarceration, according to Joint Effort: Prison Experiences of Trans PULSE Participants and Recommendations for Change.

Read More: 5 Young Trans Activists Are Changing How The World Thinks About Gender

The minimal data available on trans people in prisons in Canada indicates that trans people who live in poverty, who are sex workers, and who use drugs often report police harassment, and may constitute the majority of trans people who are arrested and imprisoned.

The study indicates that 6% of Trans PULSE participants had been in prison or jail. In 2017, the Trans Murder Monitoring Project reported 325 killings.

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