Judge: California must allow transgender inmates' earrings

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California prison officials must provide for free undergarments that flatten the chest of transgender inmates at women's prisons and give transgender inmates at men's prisons access to bracelets, earrings, hair brushes and hair clips, a federal judge said Friday.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar issued the order in a federal lawsuit that earlier led California to become the first state to provide taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery to an inmate.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also agreed as part of the suit by Shiloh Quine to give transgender inmates access to certain products. Quine, 57, had sex reassignment surgery in January and was transferred from a men's facility to a women's prison in Chowchilla. She is serving a life sentence for murder, kidnapping and robbery.

Prison officials said they are reviewing the ruling.

Tigar's ruling came in a dispute over the products transgender inmates should have access to. Corrections officials allow transgender female inmates in men's prisons to have sandals, t-shirts and walking shoes. Tigar's ruling Friday expanded that list to include pajamas, nightgowns, robes and scarves, rejecting the corrections department's argument that those items could be altered to resemble street clothes, aiding in escape attempts.

Another judge had ruled that earrings, bracelets, hair brushes and hair clips could pose safety concerns in men's prisons. Tigar, noting that women's prisons allow those items, said they could be made from materials such as rubber that didn't create safety risks.

Corrections officials also allow transgender male inmates at women's prisons to buy undergarments known as binders or compressions tops. Tigar said that was "effectively" denying those items to inmates who could not afford them.