Published January 12, 2022
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is trying to shut down President Joe Biden’s male-to-female prison pipeline before it starts. As The Federalist recently reported, the president plans to house federal prisoners according to their “gender identity” rather than by their biological sex. Now, the Arkansas Republican has introduced a bill that would require prisoners to be housed according to biological sex, rather than subjective claims of “gender identity.”
The senator told The Federalist:
President Biden’s plan to house male and female prisoners together will put women in danger. Documented cases prove that placing men — including ones who ‘identify’ as female — in women’s prisons puts female inmates at increased risk of sexual assault. My bill will stop the president’s ill-conceived plan and keep men and women separated in federal prison.
Biden’s draft executive order, which was obtained by The Federalist, requires the U.S. attorney general to “within 30 days of the date of this order, begin the process of identifying any necessary changes to the [Bureau of Prisons] Transgender Offender Manual … to enable BOP to designate individuals to facilities in accordance with their gender identity.”
By making a prisoner’s subjective claim of identity the basis for prison housing policy, Biden will be giving male criminals a free pass into women’s prisons. If a male convict says he feels like a woman, Biden will force women to bunk next to him. No genital amputation or plastic surgery is necessary; a man with functioning male organs can still be considered a woman.
Biden clearly does not care that this will result, as it has elsewhere, in male criminals raping and abusing female prisoners. The president’s indifference to violence against women results from Democrats’ embrace of radical gender ideology, which teaches that biological sex does not determine whether a person is a man or a woman.
Thus, Democrats now pretend that a woman can have a fully functioning penis. They see the inner woman as more real than the outer man, and are prepared to take murderers and rapists at their word on the matter. Doubting someone’s gender identity claim is a grave sin, according to transgender ideology.
It is obvious that this radical ideology will be exploited by predatory men, but the left is not deterred. Sen. Cotton’s new bill aims to stop them. A draft of the bill shared exclusively with The Federalist states that the Federal Bureau of Prisons:
shall use the biological sex of persons charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States in making determinations regarding housing such persons; and shall not co-locate in detention facilities persons charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States if those persons are not of the same biological sex, unless the Bureau of Prisons co-locates such persons without regard to their purported gender identity.
Senator Cotton’s bill will also pressure on states to abide by these commonsense policies. It prohibits the flow of federal dollars to state law enforcement (via 346 U.S.C. 10152) in cases of states that have established co-ed prisons under gender identity theories. According to the draft bill, “Beginning in the first fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of this subsection, a State may not receive funds under this subpart for a fiscal year if the State does not submit to the Attorney General a certification that the State” is adhering to the approach Cotton’s bill sets forth for federal prisons.
Despite its commonsense approach, Cotton’s bill is sure to face headwinds from the Democrats in control of the House, Senate, and White House. Even if it were to pass swiftly, it would promptly be challenged in court by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, as well as states denied funding for violating its provisions.
Bill Highlights Biden Administration’s Radicalism
Notwithstanding these short-term difficulties, Cotton’s bill is an important effort for several reasons. First, it highlights the radicalism of the Biden administration and the transgender ideology it has embraced.
Biden was sold to the public as a moderate elder statesman, and transgender activists insist that they just want the freedom to be themselves. Putting violent male convicts into women’s prisons shows that these claims were lies.
If Biden ever was a moderate, he isn’t anymore, and the transgender agenda is about much more than being polite when Bruce becomes Caitlyn. If transgender ideology leads to locking women up with violent male criminals, then to hell with transgender ideology.
Second, this bill will put Democratic candidates in swing states and districts in a bind. If asked, they will have to choose between risking the wrath of their party’s establishment and base, or risking the displeasure of voters.
Even though prison conditions are not at the forefront of many voters’ minds, the ideological fanaticism of candidates who support co-ed prisons will be repellent to many Americans. The only way to stop Democrats’ hard-left culture war is to make it politically painful for them, and vulnerable Democrats should be afraid of Biden jamming through his proposed executive order.
Third, Cotton’s proposal thereby lays down a marker that Republicans can use, and by which they can be evaluated. It provides GOP candidates with an easy way to demonstrate the extremism of their Democratic opponents. But it also provides conservatives with another datum in evaluating candidates courting our support. Too many GOP politicians are terrified of the culture war, even when the public is on their side.
The pressures of D.C. life — culturally and personally, as much as politically — push many Republican politicians and operatives toward accommodating the cultural left. But we need leaders who are willing to incur the ire of the elite cultural hive mind, not knuckle under to it. Cotton’s bill will be a good test of those who claim to be courageous on our behalf. Those who support it will earn some respect, while those who sidle away from it are not to be trusted.
Supporting this bill is not a hard call. Male convicts do not belong in women’s prisons, and Cotton is taking the lead in working to keep them out. The rest of the GOP, as well as any genuinely moderate Democrats, should join him.
Nathanael Blake is a senior contributor to The Federalist and a postdoctoral fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.