May 1, 2023

How should transgender staff and non-binary staff be classified for the purposes of complying with cross-gender viewing and search prohibitions established in PREA Standard 115.15?


The PREA Standards do not provide specific guidance regarding the classification of transgender and nonbinary staff; however, it is important to note that the PREA Standards do not prohibit facilities from classifying transgender employees consistent with their gender identity with regard to all aspects of their employment, including those related to PREA Standard 115.15.  For example, it does not violate the PREA standards for a staff member who is a transgender man to conduct strip searches of male inmates. 

If for a reason other than the PREA Standards, a facility does not classify a transgender employee consistent with their gender identity, facilities should make an individualized determination based on the gender identity of the staff member and not solely based on the staff member’s sex assigned at birth, the gender designation of the facility or housing unit to which the staff member is assigned, the related and required job duties of the specific staff member, the limits to cross-gender viewing and searches in PREA Standard 115.15, and the goal of the PREA Standards to prevent trauma and sexual abuse. This determination should be made at the request of, and in conjunction with, the transgender or non-binary staff member. Agencies should be aware that the determination of assignment in the facility may change at the request of and in conjunction with the employee as part of an ongoing adjustment process or as the staff member gains experience living consistently with their gender identity.

Note: this FAQ replaces the FAQ from 04/23/2014 regarding transgender staff.