In a BC first, transgender prisoner moved from male to female prison

Global News has learned BC Corrections is expected to announce some big changes to a policy critics say puts transgender inmates at risk.

Jaris Bailey Lovado was born a male, but identifies and lives as a woman.

Now identifying as Bianca Bailey Lovado, she was initially sent to Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, an all-male prison.

“I experienced a lot of bullying and ridicule of the inmates,” Lovado said in a phone interview. “The unit wanted me to wash their dishes because I’m a woman.”

Lovado said the ridicule she felt from male inmates made her feel a “really strong disconnect and depression overwhelmed.”

Lovado was moved to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, making her the first male-to-female transgender prisoner in B.C. to be transferred from a men’s jail to a female-only correctional facility.

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“She is the first transgender woman that I’ve heard of in B.C. who has been moved to a women’s facility,” said Jennifer Metcalfe of the Prisoners’ Legal Service.

Justice minister Suzanne Anton confirmed that Lovado was allowed to switch facilities ahead of a new policy regarding transgender inmates.

“The details of the policy are still being worked out,” Anton said. “It will be a very progressive policy. It will allow people to be placed according to their gender identity.”

Morgane Oger of the Trans Alliance Society is pleased with the decision.

“That the province is doing this indicates that they understand that gender identity has to be accommodated,” Oger said. “They understand that there are enough of us that it’s worthwhile and necessary to do this.”

Lovado said she feels at home at a women’s facility.

“When I arrived, I was welcomed with open arms and I was respected and cared for,” she said. “The feeling of being a person was restored to me.”

-With files from John Daly

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