Two female inmates at a New Jersey prison have reportedly become pregnant after having sex with a transgender inmate. According to the New York Post, the New Jersey State Department of Corrections stated that the sex was “consensual.”
The Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, which houses over 800 prisoners – including 27 transgender women – keeps both transgender and cisgender inmates within the same cell blocks. New Jersey does not require transgender inmates to have undergone gender confirmation surgery to be housed according to their gender identity.
Due to a settlement agreement signed by the New Jersey State Corrections Department in June 2021, the New Jersey prison system is required to house transgender inmates among their preferred gender.
In addition, prison staff must use inmates’ preferred pronouns, and inmates must be allowed to receive any gender-affirming health care, including hormones or surgery, that has been deemed medically necessary.
The settlement agreement was reached after a transgender inmate, Sonia Doe, sued the state, arguing that the state’s previous policy of housing transgender women in men’s prisons was discriminatory and violated her constitutional rights.
“I am a woman and feel unsafe in a men’s prison,” Doe told NJ.com at the time.
The state eventually decided to settle the lawsuit out of court, agreeing to house trans inmates based on their gender identity and provide better health and medical care for trans prisoners.
That agreement was hailed, at the time, as a great victory for transgender people and their treatment within prisons.
Since the two cisgender female inmates have become pregnant, LGBTQ advocates have been relatively quiet on the housing situation in New Jersey correctional institutions, although right-wing media — and advocates of keeping prison facilities segregated based on assigned sex at birth — have trumpeted it as justification for keeping trans females out of female prisons.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, had previously announced plans to close the prison last year after 15 correctional officers were accused of violently extracting female inmates from their cells and brutalizing them in the middle of the night. Criminal charges were filed against the officers involved, as well as their superiors, and Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks was forced to resign from the fallout of over the incident.
But after learning of the two pregnancies at the facility, Murphy cited them as justification for his earlier decision to close the prison.
“Part of the reason to close it — and there are many, sadly — is the inability to segregate populations based on incidences or behaviors,” Murphy said during an unrelated public event when asked to comment. “And that’s on a long list of reasons why it has to be closed and that’s in process.”
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