Revised ICE Guidelines Protect Transgender Detainees
The federal government is taking steps to protect transgender people detained in immigration facilities across the country.Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement–or ICE–unveiled new trans-inclusive guidelines designed to improve medical and mental health services for detainees. The 2011 ‘National Detention Standards’ also seek to “reinforce protections against sexual abuse and assault.”
LGBT advocates say trans detainees disproportionately fall victim to sexual assault. In fact, they say trans people are typically placed in ‘administrative segregation’ for up to 23 hours at a time just for their own safety.
But with its latest ‘standards’ revisions, ICE says trans detainees and other potential assault victims will receive “special consideration” when it comes to housing. The federal agency says detention facility staff members may now use one’s gender self-identification and NOT their sexual anatomy for their placement.
The new guidelines also say that “special care” will be taken to ensure that trans detainees are strip-searched in private and with a medical professional present. As for body-cavity searches, trans people will be allowed to specifically choose a staff member to conduct the probe.
Finally, ALL trans detainees will have access to mental health care, while those already receiving hormones PRIOR to their detention will continue to receive such therapy.
Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality says while the changes are a “step forward,” more needs to be done to fully protect trans detainees from abuse.
TOBIN: There are a lot of other issues, and we’re concerned to see that it’s fully and quickly implemented and to continue working to improve conditions in detention and to reduce the reliance on detention.
ICE says on its website that it has started implementing the new policies at detention facilities nationwide.