The SiriusXM OutQ News Blog

News from America's only radio station for the LGBT community.

Revised ICE Guidelines Protect Transgender Detainees

with 2 comments

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.


2 Responses

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  1. Caveats:
    1. The word here is “may” not “must.”
    2. There is no effective enforcement strategy to implement this far and deep. Non-ICE facilities (GEO Group, CCA, county jails, etc.) may simply opt out of most of these “improvements” since this is “may” not “must” or “shall.”
    3. ICE still is exempt from Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and the Obama Administration for some unknown reason is very resistant to the idea of making ICE facilities covered under PREA.
    4. The detainee orientation in this new Performance-Based guidelines specifies education to reduce and prevent sexual abuses. This is done in many state prisons as well, but for instance in the Oregon Department of Corrections this is basically showing a video that sends a message to new inmates that acting “sissy” will get you raped (the video basically is a crash course on “how to man up.”). This is only giving perpetrators more excuse to commit their crimes and blame the victims.


    March 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    • Thanks for adding some additional information and counterpoint to our (necessarily) brief radio story.

      OutQ News staff

      March 1, 2012 at 12:51 PM

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