OTTAWA — Changes to the way the federal prison system treats transgender prisoners mean offenders will now be placed in a men's or women's facility, based on how they self-identify.
Correctional staff must also address transgender inmates by their preferred name and pronoun and offenders will be allowed to shop for both men's or women's items from the correctional service's approved catalogue, regardless of their anatomy or the gender on their identification documents.
These changes come after the federal government added "gender identity and expression" to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act last June.
"We are overjoyed that CSC is making so many positive changes that recognize the human rights of trans people in the correctional system," said Jennifer Metcalfe, executive director of Prisoners' Legal Services.
"These changes will improve the safety and dignity of transgender federal offenders in Canada, affecting every aspect of their daily lives."
A joint statement from Prisoners' Legal Services, the Correctional Service of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission said the reforms are the result of years of collaboration.
The head of the human rights commission, Marie-Claude Landry, said the reforms are about respect and human dignity, which every person is entitled to, including those in the prison system.
These changes will improve the safety and dignity of transgender federal offenders in Canada, affecting every aspect of their daily lives.Jennifer Metcalfe, Prisoners' Legal Services
The changes also emphasize the privacy and confidentiality of an inmate's gender identity, which will be shared only if relevant and only with those directly involved in a prisoner's care.
Individualized protocols will also be offered to transgender inmates, which include accommodations when accessing shower and toilet facilities and the choice of male or female officers to conduct frisk and strip searches, urine testing and camera surveillance.
Commissioner Don Head said Corrections Canada is committed to building a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for everyone, including transgender staff, offenders, volunteers and visitors.
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