Transgender inmate placed in female section of Ottawa jail

The union for Ontario's corrections officers wants a clear policy on how to deal with transgender inmates after another call for guidance from guards at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Union for Ontario corrections officers wants clear policy on dealing with transgender inmates

The union head for Ontario's corrections officers says he provided guidance on placing an inmate. 2:07

The union for Ontario’s prison guards wants the province to update policies regarding transgender prisoners after a woman with male anatomy was housed in the all-female section of the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

Dan Sidsworth, who represents corrections and parole officers in Ontario, says the number of inmates who identify as transgender is rising.

Kyle Kirkup, who specializes in LGBTQ issues within the legal system, says transgender inmates who identify as female should be housed with women. (Photo by Liz Beddall)
Sidsworth said, as a result, he has received more calls from guards asking how they should treat and place inmates.

CBC News has learned an inmate with male anatomy, who identifies as female, is currently housed in the all-female section of the Ottawa jail on Innes Road.

Sidsworth said he received a call from guards there seeking guidance.

“Every time an inmate comes into custody, there seems to be a higher level of confusion. Where are they going to be housed? Are they going to be housed in female population or housed in male population?” Sidsworth told the CBC’s Ryan Gibson.

“Right now the policy doesn't speak to that clearly.”

Sidsworth said a transgender who identifies as female, with male anatomy, is usually housed with the male population.

But on Wednesday, an inmate in Ottawa was placed with women and “special accommodations” were made to assure the transgender person’s safety, Sidsworth said.

Toronto lawyer and legal scholar, Kyle Kirkup, agrees with the decision in Ottawa.

Kirkup, who specializes in LGBTQ issues within the legal system, said the change should be made province-wide.

“I think that's exactly the approach that should be adopted and I think that's the approach that most complies with the ministry’s obligation under Ontario Human's rights laws,” Kirkup said.

Toronto case led to online outcry

Earlier this month, a transgender person who identified as female, but had male anatomy, was housed with the male population in a Toronto jail.

Avery Edison, a U.K. comedian and transgender woman, was originally detained in a men's facility but then moved to a women's jail. (@aedison/Twitter)
The inmate’s passport also indicated the person was female, and the decision led to outcry online. Subsequently, the transgender woman was moved to a women’s jail.

That is another case where corrections officers were a bit lost, Sidsworth added, and they need clear instructions for transgender inmates.

The Ontario Ministry of Community and Correctional Services could not be reached for comment, but Sidsworth said the ministry is conducting an ongoing review.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.