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California's transgender inmates may soon have bras, cosmetics

As a result of newly proposed rules, transgender female inmates in California may soon have access to bras, cosmetics and other personal items. (Getty Images)

Transgender prison inmates in California may soon have access to bras, cosmetics, and other personal items corresponding with their chosen gender identity under proposed rules presented this week by state regulators.

The proposed rules, which will be discussed during a public hearing and comment period in the coming weeks, would permit transgender female inmates housed in men’s facilities to have access to feminine undergarments, lip gloss, and mascara. Transgender male inmates living in women’s facilities would be permitted to use aftershave and wear boxers.

These proposed regulations come after one California inmate became the first person in the United States to receive state-funded sex reassignment surgery while being incarcerated. Shiloh Heavenly Quine, a transgender woman previously known as Rodney James Quine, was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery in 1981.

Following Quine’s surgery in January at a San Francisco hospital, the inmate was moved to a women’s prison — a move the convicted killer has called “torture.” Quine has grown a mustache and beard and has been denied a razor by prison officials.

The 57-year-old inmate said having facial hair in a women’s prison is having a “huge impact on day-to-day life” and making it increasingly difficult to transition to a woman.

Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, said all female inmates are routinely denied razors and televisions — along with other privileges — while they are being evaluated. In other words, Quine is receiving no special treatment, according to the prison.

“It’s a very thorough process, which is why it can take a while. But it’s a process every inmate goes through,” Thornton told the Associated Press. “There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to male and female inmates.”

Quine, according to the AP, has recently been moved into the general inmate population, where razors and other personal items are accessible.

As a result of Quine’s 2015 lawsuit that successfully argued that the inmate should be permitted to receive taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery, transgender female inmates in men’s prisons were given items like nightgowns, scarves, and necklaces.

Quine’s attorneys at the Transgender Law Center are still arguing with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation over what should be provided to transgender inmates. There is another court hearing on April 27 to discuss the matter.

Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Quine, along with an accomplice, kidnapped and fatally shot 33-year-old Shahid Ali Baig, a father of three, in downtown Los Angeles in 1980, stealing $80 and his car.

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