The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is to hear in late June about a transgender inmate at the woman’s prison in Maple Ridge who has complained about being discriminated against.
Hayden Patterson, in her early 20s, filed the complaint against the provincial government, saying the behaviour contract she signed when she was transferred to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women is discriminatory because she’s subject to tougher behaviour requirements than other female prisoners.
“She’s alleging discrimination on the basis of her gender identity, saying she’s being treated differently, in an unfair way than other female inmates at ACCW, because she is a transgender woman,” said human rights lawyer Laura Track.
The behaviour contract required Hayden Patterson, formerly Kevin Patterson, to continue “to demonstrate gender expression that is consistent with your current gender identity [female].”
Track, with the Community Legal Assistance Society, said that seems to suggest that if Patterson did not wear makeup or cut her hair “she may not be demonstrating female gender expression in the way that corrections deems appropriate.”
That could lead to a transfer back to Surrey Pre-Trial or doing time in what’s called enhanced supervision placement – where she’s locked up 21 hours a day.
Other terms of the behaviour contract state that Patterson can’t share a cell with another inmate, nor engage in any sexual behaviour, which includes sexual conversations, acts, gestures or physical contact.
According to the complaint filed Nov. 16 with the tribunal, Patterson’s behaviour is being “excessively monitored and surveilled” because she is transgender.
“Having to worry about her every move, whether it may be construed as inappropriate, is mentally draining, stressful, frustrating and exhausting,” the complaint said.
Patterson filed her complaint after receiving two letters in October for possible breaches of her behavioural contract.
On Oct. 15, she was warned that she could be put on “enhanced supervision placement” because of inappropriate touching of another inmate. The complaint says the warning was not specific, but Patterson believes she was warned because she shook hands with other inmates and poked another to get her attention.
On Oct. 29, Patterson was placed on enhanced supervision placement for several weeks, locked in her cell for 21 hours a day, for “inappropriate behaviour,” including “relationship-type behaviour.”
Patterson, though, said in the complaint that allegations were unspecific and vague and that it involved hugging another inmate and sitting in the yard next to another inmate.
Patterson has also been locked in her cell for 21 hours since then, though Track doesn’t know how many times.
Track said most transgender inmates are located within men’s prisons and B.C. Corrections is trying to figure out how to deal with the issue. She noted the B.C. Human Rights Code was amended three years ago to protect gender identity and gender expression.
Colin Hynes, with B.C. Corrections, couldn’t comment on the specific case.
However, in general, placement decisions are made considering “the inmate’s self-identified gender and any possible health, safety or security issues that may impact placement,” Hynes said.
Patterson was transferred to ACCW from the men’s Surrey Pre-Trial Centre last September. She had to sign the contract in order to be transferred to the women’s prison, according to the complaint.
She was transferred upon recommendation of a doctor after Patterson identified as transgender while in Surrey Pre-Trial in late 2017.
That led her to being targeted and assaulted in that prison before being transferred to Alouette Correctional Centre, Track said.
Patterson is being held on an extradition matter to face a murder charge in the U.S., Track added.
Patterson has filed two other complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal regarding her time while in Surrey Pre-Trial Centre, Track said.
Track said one of those complaints involves Patterson not having access to kosher food while in Surrey Pretrial.
Patterson said she has identified as Jewish since age 15 and claims the denial of her request for a kosher diet is a violation of Section 8 of the Human Rights Code.
That will be considered at a later hearing of the Human Rights Tribunal.
In addition, Patterson has filed a complaint about her ongoing incarceration at Surrey Pretrial, months despite her identifying as a transgender woman in late 2017.
However, she wasn’t transferred to Alouette Correctional Centre for Women until September 2018, which was also months after a corrections doctor recommended the transfer.
Track added that Patterson said she was harassed, targeted and sexually assaulted at Surrey Pretrial after identifying as transgender in the months before she was transferred.
“I can’t speak to the specific nature of her allegations, but she does claim that she was sexually assaulted in that time,” Track said.