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Kamala Harris: ‘I Worked Behind the Scenes’ to Make Sure Transgender Prisoners Could Get Transition Surgery

By CNSNews.com Staff | August 14, 2020 | 10:04am EDT
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Sen. Kamala Harris (D.-Calif.) said in an interview with the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund that was posted on YouTube on Oct. 18, 2019 that she “worked behind the scenes” as California attorney general to make sure a transgender prison inmate got transition surgery.

This was despite the fact that her office handled a case for the state that opposed providing transition surgery.

“When I was attorney general, I learned that the California Department of Corrections, which was a client of mine—I didn’t get to choose my clients…they were standing in the way of surgery …for prisoners,” said Harris.

“And there was a specific case, and when I learned about the case I worked behind the scenes to not only make sure that that transgender woman got the services she was deserving,” said Harris. 

“So, it wasn’t only about that case--I made sure that they changed the policy in the state of California so that every transgender inmate in the prison system would have access to the medical care that they desired and need,” Harris said.

“And I believe it was not only—I know it was historic in California—but I believe, actually, it may have been one of the first, if not the first, in the country, where I pushed for that policy in a department of corrections,” Harris said.

“So, you can just look at all the work I’ve done over the years to know I feel very strongly about this,” Harris said. “And at it’s core, it’s a civil rights issue, it’s a justice issue, and it’s an issue of humanity.”

On Jan. 21, 2019, The Blade published an article about a question it asked Harris about this issue at a press conference. The Blade reported: 

“In her first news conference after announcing her 2020 presidential run, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she takes “full responsibility” for legal briefs as California attorney general seeking to deny gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmates and called for a “better understanding” of needs — medical or otherwise— for transgender people.

“Harris made the comments during a news conference Monday at Howard University in D.C. in response to a question from the Washington Blade, asking her about representing the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation in seeking to deny gender reassignment surgery prescribed to two transgender inmates in the California state prison system.”

But, according to the report, Harris told The Blade that she “worked behind the scenes” to make sure “transitioning inmates” got “the medical attention they required:”

“Harris indicated she also helped the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation come to an agreement to set up a process where transgender inmates could obtain transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery. That’s similar to what her office later told the Blade in response to an article about concerns over her legal support for the position of the agency.

“‘On that issue I will tell you I vehemently disagree and in fact worked behind the scenes to ensure that the Department of Corrections would allow transitioning inmates to receive the medical attention that they required, they needed and deserved,’ Harris said.”

Here is a transcript of the part of Harris' interview with the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund where she talks about working behind the scenes to make sure transgender prisoners "would have access to the medical care that they desired:"

Kamala Harris: “So, look at my record to know. When I was attorney general, I learned that the California Department of Corrections, which was a client of mine—I didn’t get to choose my clients—

Mara Keisling: “A client of the attorney general.

Harris: “A client of the attorney general, of the office of attorney general, that they were standing in the way of surgery.”

Keisling: “For prisoners.”  

Harris: “For prisoners. And there was a specific case, and when I learned about the case I worked behind the scenes to not only make sure that that transgender woman got the services she was deserving. So, it wasn’t only about that case. I made sure that they changed the policy in the state of California so that every transgender inmate in the prison system would have access to the medical care that they desired and need.

“And I believe it was not only—I know it was historic in California—but I believe, actually, it may have been one of the first, if not the first, in the country, where I pushed for that policy in a department of corrections. 

“So, you can just look at all the work I’ve done over the years to know I feel very strongly about this. And at it’s core, it’s a civil rights issue, it’s a justice issue, and it’s an issue of humanity.”

6:54  

 

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