Transgender illegal aliens have special needs and challenges, including dealing with guards who don’t understand gender identity issues, as well as facing a higher risk of sexual assault and inability to get hormone replacement treatment.
Therefore, a new facility (Prairieland Detention Center) is currently under construction near Dallas, at Alvarado, TX, will include 36 beds for transgender detainees. The detention facility is scheduled to open in November, and will be operated by a private agency. The agency said they will work with gay-rights groups in the Dallas area to assist transgender people in custody.
ICE said it will operate with the agency’s most advanced care guidelines for transgender detainees, and each detainee will have an individualized detention plan “covering items such as searches, clothing options, hygiene practices, medical care, and housing assignments.
Federal guidelines instruct detention staff to ask incoming detainees about their chosen gender identity and make accommodations based on their preference. The guidelines include instructions on conducting searches, providing clothing based on a detainee’s stated gender identity, and maintaining safety.
ICE officials estimate that there are approximately 65 transgender women in their custody on any given night.
The only other facility with special accommodations for transgenders is in Santa Ana, California – where 28 transgenders were held last week. Santa Ana city officials have considered ending their agreement with ICE to house the detainees.
Immigrant rights advocates have urged ICE to release LGBT detainees, especially transgender women, because they are more vulnerable to physical and sexual assaults while in custody. The new facility addresses a number of issues to better protect trans women, but immigrant rights leaders say any new detention center is a step in the wrong direction. The advocates want ICE to instead work more closely with community groups that could house trans women.
Sign up to get breaking news alerts from Dennis Michael Lynch.