Today, the D.C. Department of Corrections issued a “program statement” establishing new procedures in how it classifies and houses transgendered inmates at the D.C. Jail. This is a huge step, and a surprisingly progressive step for the D.C. Jail. In a letter obtained by Washington City Paper, AG Peter Nickles wrote to to the D.C. Prisoners’ Project of the new regs:

“Pursuant to this policy, the District Will be one of only a few jurisdictions in the nation to permit transgender inmates to be housed according to their gender identity in appropriate cases, and to allow transgender inmates to initiate hormone therapy while in custody.

These provisions, along with other aspects of the policy, will help to ensure that the rights of transgender prisoners are respected and that their unique needs are accommodated, to the extent practicable, while they are incarcerated.”

New York State is the only jurisdiction that has these kinds of procedures. This is big.

It all starts at intake. According to the new program statement written by the D.C. Department of Corrections—and dated today!—DOC will classify an inmate or can classify an inmate as transgendered after the inmate has been reviewed by the new Transgender Committee.

The committee is comprised of “a medical practitioner, a mental health clinician, a correctional supervisor, a Chief Case Manager and a DOC approved volunteer who is a member of the transgender community or an awknowledged expert in transgender affairs.” This entity can determine the transgendered inmate’s housing assignment after a review of their records and an interview with the inmate.

Here’s where it kinda gets tricky: “During intake, if an inmate’s gender-related expression, identity, appearance, or behavior differs from their sex, staff shall, when practical, place transgendered or intersex inmates in a holding cell by him/herself during intake.” I wonder how a guard receives training on this?

If an inmate has been determined as transgendered, there are now procedures for how guards must address them. “Inmates shall be called by their last names without referenced to gender specific indentifiers such as Mr. or Mrs.,” the DOC statement says.

So what’s the upshot for transgendered inmates? They can either be housed in the general population or in protective custody unit of their gender consistent with their identity or “genitalia.”