Transgender Housing in Jail

An inmate at Cass County Jail who is saying they identify as transgender is posing a problem for Cass County officials. The inmate claims they are not being treated fairly in compliance with their identity as a transgender woman. She claims she is not receiving hormone treatments and is being housed with male inmates, contrary to her request.

To be clear, identifying as transgender means that a person does not identify their gender with the body they are born into. That is to say, a person who is born into a male body, complete with male hormones and male genitals and other characteristics a male would possess, feels that they do not connect with their body, and they truly feel that the body of a woman is the body they are meant to have. They identify as a woman, even if they possess a male body.

The inmate was brought to Cass County Jail because of lack of space and problems in previous facilities. However, she is a federal inmate, not a state inmate.

In the case of this inmate, who goes by “Toni,” but legally named William Anthony Fly, she requested to be placed in a facility with female inmates, which was denied. When she felt her requests had not been met she wrote to the Forum.

The Cass County Jail is audited every three years compliant with the law, according to Andrew Frobig, the jail administrator. This auditing happens to monitor and ensure proper treatment of inmates who identify as transgender.

If an inmate identifies as transgender, the jail must take into account how and where to house them. In this case, Toni, the inmate, was not granted housing with the female population because of the offense they are charged with. The jail determined that female housing wasn’t an option for this inmate because the crime, in this case, was transporting a person across state lines for purposes of commerce for a sexual assault or prostitution, according to Frobig.

The inmate is also charged with incestual sexual assault, which resulted in a pregnancy.

Because of these charges, and because there is a concern for the safety of the female inmate, the request to be moved to a female facility has been denied. “I have to protect my female population,” Frobig said.

Frobig did state that this is not being used as a form of sexual obedience. If the charges were for a drug-related crime or a crime that didn’t involve sexual activity that putting the inmate in the housing they requested wouldn’t be an issue, but that the charges made this case particularly complicated.

This is not the only case of a transgender inmate requesting a different housing, and each request is evaluated independently on a case by case basis. There have been about 10 transgender inmates, some of which have been granted housing within the population they identified with or without sexual reassignment surgery. There was even one inmate who switched to one gender of housing and then to the other.

The inmate, in this case, disagrees, as she interprets the guidelines of how to conduct a situation like this differently. Frobig said that a third party should become involved to negotiate and mediate this issue.

Ultimately, the complaint will be reviewed and the final decision will be publicized at an upcoming commission meeting.

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