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In A First For B.C., This Trans Inmate Has Been Moved To A Women's Facility

The woman said she experienced bullying at a men's facility.

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For the first time in the province's history, a transgender inmate in British Columbia has been sent to a facility that corresponds with her gender.

Bianca Bailey Sawyer/Facebook

Bianca Bailey Sawyer, a trans woman, was originally placed at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre, a male facility.

But, according to the The Georgia Straight, she was transferred to Alouette Correctional Centre, a female facility, at the end of September.

In a letter, Sawyer told the Straight she was "ecstatic" when she heard the news she'd be transferring.

Bianca Bailey Sawyer/Facebook

“A calming euphoria of appreciation and thanks washed over me," she wrote.

She told Global News she experienced "a lot of bullying and ridicule" while at the men's facility, resulting in depression.

B.C.'s current Adult Custody policy states that trans inmates can only be housed with their own gender if they've undergone surgical changes, which Sawyer has not. But the rules are changing.

Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

B.C.'s justice minister, Suzanne Anton, told Global that Sawyer's transfer comes ahead of a "progressive" policy update. Though it's unclear when it will be released, she said it will allow people to be placed according to their gender identity.

This would bring the province in line with Ontario where a policy introduced earlier this year brought in new guidelines for handling trans inmates. Aside from ensuring inmates are housed according to identity rather than anatomy, it also aims to reduce the number of trans men and women that are placed in solitary confinement as a safety measure.

Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at lauren.strapagiel@buzzfeed.com.

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