Today, we observe Transgender Day of Remembrance — remembering and honoring the transgender people who have perished due to violence. Violence against the trans community is at epidemic levels, and trans women of color, in particular, are being brutally victimized. Just this year, at least 22 transgender people have been murdered. So much work remains to ensure full equality, inclusion, and safety for our transgender community members.
I’m spending Transgender Day of Remembrance at San Quentin State Prison, and will be meeting with transgender people incarcerated there. This follows our visit last month with transgender inmates in California Institute for Women and California Institute for Men in Chino. Transgender people who are incarcerated face harsh challenges, including major safety risks and affronts to their basic dignity. Trans people are housed in prison according to their birth-assigned gender, not their gender identity. As a result, for example, trans women housed as men experience significant violence and are frequently placed in isolation “for their own protection.” Trans people in prison face other daily indignities, including failure to acknowledge their gender, pronouns, and names.
To improve the lives of transgender people who are incarcerated, I’m authoring Senate Bill 132, which ensures that transgender people in custody are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. SB 132 — backed by a broad coalition — allows transgender people in prison to be housed according to their gender identity and puts in place basic protections to ensure equal and fair treatment. We are working collaboratively with transgender community leaders, transgender people in prison, civil rights organizations, prison officials, and the Governor to pass this landmark legislation.
I am excited to continue to work to protect and expand the rights of our transgender community. Over the last few years in the Senate, it has been my honor to pass legislation to protect LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities, so that our transgender seniors can age with dignity; to work with our Senate leader, Toni Atkins, to pass legislation to make it easier for someone to correct their gender on state IDs and to identify as nonbinary; and to increase funding specifically for youth experiencing homelessness in our state — knowing that our transgender community disproportionally expediencies homelessness.
The trans community has come far in its fight for full equality, but the work continues, particularly around ending the violence and economic and health disparities facing trans people. I will continue this work for Itali Marlowe, Elisha Chanel Stanley, Bailey Reeves, Jordan Cofer, and the many other beautiful souls we lost this year to anti-trans violence.
I look forward to advancing this work together.