The new transfer policy began earlier this year in response to SB 132, a bill authored by Democratic State Senator Scott Wiener and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last year that lets men be housed with women inmates if they self-identify as a woman, "nonbinary," or as any other gender variant other than male.
The Women's Liberation Front (WoLF), a Washington, DC-based woman's rights group, filed the lawsuit on November 17 on behalf of four incarcerated women, asking the court to issue a permanent injunction and declare the law unconstitutional. The California Family Council strongly opposed this bill as it made its way through the legislative approval process, and testified against the bill in committee alongside WoLF.
"Most of these women in these prisons have some kind of history of abuse [from men], whether sexually or physically or mentally … and they do not want to live in close quarters with male inmates who have not transitioned," says Greg Burt of California Family Council.
"They simply have said that they want to live there and this is resulting in sexual harassment, sexual assault, and fear and traumatization. So [WoLF] filed a lawsuit, and we'll see what the courts do."
A press release from WoLF claims that "thousands of California women are impacted by this law" – including WoLF plaintiffs Janine Chandler, Krystal Gonzales, Tomiekia Johnson, and Nadia Romero.
The case (Chandler v. CDCR) was filed with U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of California (Fresno Division). It claims the law violates the plaintiffs' rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.