British Columbia

Transgender inmate alleges mistreatment, sex assault in B.C. jails

A transgender inmate at a B.C. jail alleges she was sexually assaulted by male prisoners and that staff delayed transferring her to a female institution for nearly six months after a doctor recommended it.

Hayden Patterson said Surrey Pretrial delayed her transfer to women's jail by 6 months

Hayden Patterson alleges she was assaulted and bullied by male inmates at Surrey Pretrial. (Leoboudv/Wikimedia)

A transgender inmate at a B.C. jail alleges she was sexually assaulted by male prisoners and that staff delayed transferring her to a female institution by nearly six months after a doctor recommended it.

Hayden Patterson has filed a human rights complaints against both Surrey Pretrial Services Centre and the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women over her treatment at the two facilities. The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hear the two complaints separately, after a decision issued this week.

Patterson was incarcerated at Surrey Pretrial, a facility for men, from July 2016 to September 2018, according to the decision. She alleges that when she told the deputy warden she was transgender, he said that was "bullshit."

She claims she was then moved to a unit where the other inmates bullied and sexually assaulted her and that staff harassed her. Even after a doctor confirmed Patterson should be moved to a jail for women, she says it took another six months for the transfer to happen.

When she was finally transferred to Alouette, Patterson says she was required to sign a "behaviour contract" that, among other things, barred her from asking for a double bunk. If she broke the rules, she claims she would be transferred back to a male institution.

She alleges that contract was discriminatory.

3rd complaint over meals

Ultimate responsibility for both jails lies with the public safety ministry, and they will both be represented by the same lawyer. Patterson's complaint against Alouette will be heard this June, but a hearing date has yet to be scheduled for the complaint against Surrey Pretrial.

She had applied to have the complaints heard jointly, but on Thursday, tribunal member Devyn Cousineau said the two cases concern different allegations and it would not be fair to hear them together.

Patterson's alleged crimes are not outlined in the decision, but she is said to be facing extradition to the U.S.

In the meantime, she has a third open complaint before the tribunal. That case also involves Surrey Pretrial, and concerns Patterson's allegation that she was discriminated against as a Jewish person when the jail failed to provide her with kosher meals.

In January, the tribunal denied an application to dismiss that complaint.

None of the allegations in any of the three complaints have been proven before the tribunal.