Media Contact

Tom Warnke, Lambda Legal,

ACLU SoCal Communications and Media Advocacy,

K Richardson, TLC,

May 16, 2024

Civil rights groups victorious in defending the Transgender Respect, Agency, and Dignity Act from an anti-transgender challenge

FRESNO -- The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by an anti-transgender group against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) challenging SB132, the groundbreaking law protecting transgender people incarcerated in California.  

Lambda Legal, Transgender Law Center (TLC), the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal), and O’Melveny & Myers had joined California’s request to dismiss the case on behalf of the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGI Justice Project) and four currently incarcerated trans women who won the right to intervene in the lawsuit in August 2023.

“We are relieved that the court saw through this legally flawed challenge, and rejected its distorted arguments,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Nora Huppert. “In dismissing this challenge, the court recognized that California has an obligation to protect the safety of incarcerated transgender people.”

The lawsuit, Chandler v. CDCR, was filed by the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), an anti-trans organization based in Washington, DC, on behalf of three incarcerated cisgender women, and Woman II Woman, a California-based nonprofit. Woman II Woman was later dismissed from the lawsuit.

In yesterday’s decision, the court dismissed all of the remaining plaintiffs’ purported constitutional claims. The court noted that many of their alleged harms were speculative and it refuted their bizarre attempt to characterize transgender status as a religion. The decision includes a review of the history of SB 132, which was passed in 2020 to help address the epidemic of violence against transgender incarcerated people and their frequent relegation to torturous solitary confinement in the name of safety.

“SB 132 was an important harm reduction measure to improve safety and dignity for transgender Californians in our state prisons. The court was right to dismiss this baseless challenge to SB 132, and the state of California needs to stop dragging its feet on implementing the law,” said Amanda C. Goad, Audrey Irmas director of the ACLU SoCal’s LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project.

“CDCR’s men’s prisons are not a safe place for me,” said Katie Brown, one of the intervenors in the lawsuit, in a court filing.  “As a transgender woman, I belong in a women’s facility. I deserve to be called by my correct name and pronouns. S.B. 132 seeks to protect these rights and affirm my dignity.”

“Californians of all backgrounds, races, and genders know that everyone deserves respect, dignity and to live free from discrimination.” said Shawn Thomas Meerkamper (they/them), Managing Attorney at Transgender Law Center. “The court saw this lawsuit for what it was and understood that SB 132 simply requires CDCR to live up to its independent obligation to keep all people safe and free from harm.”

Read the court’s ruling here.


Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and policy work.

Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.