Wyoming Dept. Of Corrections Updates Policy On Transgender Inmates

To deal with transgender inmates in the Wyoming Department of Corrections system, policies on how to accommodate those inmates are being updated, including rules on determining “genital status.”

Clair McFarland

August 01, 20234 min read

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To deal with transgender inmates in the Wyoming Department of Corrections system, policies on how to accommodate those inmates are being updated, including rules on determining “genital status.”   

The department reports there are 10 transgender inmates in Wyoming’s prisons system. 

The number of male-to-female and female-to-male transgender inmates within the 10 was not immediately available Tuesday, said Stephanie Kiger, the department’s public information officer.   

Kiger said the department updated its policy on housing and accommodating transgender inmates July 10.   

The new policy replaces one that has been in place since Oct. 1, 2021. Both the old and the new policies assign a Transgender Review Committee comprised of top staffers to review inmates’ situations on a case-by-case basis to decide where to house them.   

Male-to-female inmates, said Kiger, can be housed at any of the department’s three designated female facilities. Female-to-male transgender inmates can be housed at any of the five facilities for males.   

Information on where Wyoming’s 10 transgender prison inmates are housed was not immediately available Tuesday.   

That’s New  

The two key, new features of the July 10 policy are the inclusion of two forms for inmates: one is a transgender accommodation request, and another is an appeal form.   

The new policy also has a more detailed health focus. It provides that a transgender inmate’s contracted medical provider shall use designated medical and mental health staff to evaluate the inmate. Medical staff then “shall work with the inmate regarding care and specialized treatment.”   

Another new facet of the policy says the custodial records manager of the prison facility housing the transgender inmate shall make sure the facility’s system “appropriately delineates the inmate’s gender identity.”  

Some Care  

Both the old and new policies take some care to offer separate shower and changing times as the review committee authorizes.   

The committee must consider transgender inmates’ alternate search preferences, too. 

Prison staff are forbidden from searching or physically examining transgender or intersex inmates just to determine their “genital status.” If the prison authorities need to learn the inmate’s genital status, that examination can happen in a medical exam, in private, both policies say.   

There are times when prison authorities have to skin-search people, the policies note. Inmates in a male facility will be skin-searched by male officers. Inmates in a female facility will be skin-searched by female officers.   

But transgender and intersex people can seek approval for a different type of search accommodation.   

Medically Necessary  

Inmates may receive specialized medical treatment “on a case-by-case basis,” both policies say, if their contracted medical provider determines that the treatment is medically necessary.   

The new policy adds: “When specialized treatment is determined medically necessary the contracted medical provider shall ensure that the (review committee) and the Prison Division Administration is notified and provided with the treatment plan.”  

Safety, And Security  

The policy exists to assure offender safety and access to appropriate medical and mental health care, it says.   

Staff working under the transgender placement policy may “only ask (the inmates) questions related to gender identity or gender expression,” and must pose those questions in a respectful manner to preserve confidentiality and human dignity.   

But a person’s gender identity is not the only basis for his or her placement. The transgender review committee also must consider the inmate’s health records and any other pertinent records, along with his or her health and safety, and whether the proposed placement would cause management or security problems.   

The committee must review transgender inmates’ placement at least twice a year to review any safety threats the inmate has experienced.    

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter