Texas county adopts sweeping new policy to protect transgender rights in prison

Transgender people will now be housed according to their gender identity and addressed by their chosen names

Published November 18, 2013 10:56PM (EST)

A Texas county has just adopted a sweeping new policy to protect the rights and safety of transgender people who are incarcerated, including allowing transgender people to be housed according to their gender identity and ensuring they are addressed by their chosen name in spoken identification and on official documentation while incarcerated, the Associated Press reports.

Harris County is home to the third-largest county jail in the nation, and is the first in Texas to adopt such a policy.

"It represents a significant step forward," Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Associated Press.

The policy is notable in such a deeply conservative state, but Tobin believes the issue transcends politics.

"This is not a red or blue issue," Tobin continued. "It is an issue of preventing violence, of meeting the state's legal and moral responsibilities to keep people safe and safeguarding public funds that when sexual abuse happens in prison need to be spent on medical care and mental health care and recovery."


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Prison Rights Prisoners' Rights Trans Rights Transgender Rights