AMA Adopts Policies for Transgender Prisoners and LGBT Family Leave

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently adopted two policies related to LGBTQ issues, one urging appropriate placement of transgender prisoners and one supporting inclusive leave policies for LGBTQ workers.

The first policy addresses the typical practice of housing transgender prisoners according to birth sex. In a press release, the AMA urges that these prisoners instead be placed in facilities that are reflective of their gender identity, noting the disproportionate health and safety issues faced by trans prisoners. AMA Immediate Past Chair Dr. Patrice Harris specified that this new AMA policy “acknowledges that the increased rate of violence largely stems from transgender prisoners being housed based on their birth sex, and not according to their affirmed gender.”

The press release cited one study that found that trans prisoners suffer from rape, harassment, and physical violence at a rate of 34% vs. 10% for the overall population. To address this, many correctional facilities place trans prisoners in administrative segregation; the AMA does not consider this a viable solution because this confinement removes prisoners from the companionship of others, denies them access to programs, and is psychologically damaging. Overall, the AMA’s new policy supports the ability of trans prisoners to be placed in facilities that are respective of their gender identity and notes that facilities should not be a form of administrative segregation.

The second policy addresses the the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The AMA press release describes FMLA as a policy that “requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid annual leave to allow workers to care for a spouse, child, or parent (except in-laws) with a serious health condition, to take leave for personal health conditions, or to care for newly born or adopted children.” The new policy asks that the AMA advocate for FMLA policies to include “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

This new policy seeks to be inclusive of LGBTQ workers; several states have expanded to the “blood or affinity” model because it allows FMLA-equivalent benefits for chosen family and domestic partners. The AMA press release notes the clear benefits of inclusive policies for LGBTQ workers, citing a 2016 study that found that affirming the chosen family of LGBT individuals in family and medical leave policies improved well-being.

You can access the press release “AMA Urges Appropriate Placement of Transgender Prisoners” here: https://www.ama-assn.org/ama-urges-appropriate-placement-transgender-prisoners

You can access the press release “AMA Supports Modifying Leave Policies to be Inclusive of LGBTQ Workers” here: https://www.ama-assn.org/ama-supports-modifying-leave-policies-be-inclusive-lgbtq-workers