A federal government research brief has found that “gender diverse persons” have been the victims and/or instigators of sexually coercive and violent incidents in Canadian prisons.

According to the Correctional Service Canada’s (CSC) research brief, victims and instigators of sexual coercion and violence within Canadian prisons are usually men, while women and gender-diverse persons were also involved in such incidents. 

The report makes clear that incidents of sexual coercion and violence within Canadian prisons are chronically underreported and not reflective of the actual presence of sex crimes. Particularly, inmates in women’s institutions often wish to avoid involving the police for fear of backlash or retaliation for being an informer.

In November 2021, the federal government reported that there were 93 people in federal prison who have gender considerations and needs, most of whom reside in male facilities. 

True North reached out to CSC for the specific number of gender-diverse persons involved in incidents of sexual coercion and violence as a victim or instigators, but CSC would not release the numbers citing privacy concerns. 

In January 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that he would allow transgender inmates in Canadian prisons to serve their sentence in a prison facility that aligns with their gender identity, calling the sex-based placement system “torture.” This is despite a 2017 policy from CSC that attempted to ensure trans inmates weren’t treated differently from other inmates.

“Pre-operative male to female offenders with gender dysphoria will be held in men’s institutions, and pre-operative female to male offenders with gender dysphoria will be held in women’s institutions,” read the old CSC policy directive on trans inmates.

Esme Vee, a founding member of Canadian Women’s Sex-Based Rights, told True North that she objects to the federal government policy allowing inmates to be assigned to correctional facilities based on their gender identity.

“The Canadian government has a duty of care to all prisoners held in federal institutions,” said Vee.

“It is unconscionable that females are being locked in with male violent offenders. What’s worse is that if the women object to such inhumane treatment, they are told their parole will be at stake. This is an egregious abuse of power in the service of a questionable ideology.”