San Diego County Ordinance Lets Trans Women Be Housed in Women’s Jails, Shelters

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has adopted a new definition of “woman” that will allow transgender women to request inclusion as women in jails, homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters.

The ordinance passed on April 26 by a 3-2 board vote and was ratified by the same tally on Tuesday. The new measure adopts the language from the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women treaty, which first garnered international recognition in 1979.

Then-President Jimmy Carter signed the treaty in 1980, but it never got to the Senate for ratification.

Within the new ordinance, the Board of Supervisors expanded the definition of “woman” to include those who identify as women:

  • “‘Women and girls’ shall mean those who identify as women and girls, including transgender women and gender non-conforming, and those assigned female at birth who include non-binary, transgender men and intersex communities.”
  • “‘Gender’ shall mean the characteristics of women, men, girls, and boys that are socially constructed. As a social construct, gender can vary among cultures and can change over time.”
  • “‘Gender equity’ shall mean the redress of discriminatory practices and ensuring equitable conditions that enable women and girls to achieve full, substantive equality with men, recognizing that needs of women and men may differ, resulting in fair and equitable outcomes for all. This includes the redress of discriminatory practices and ensuring equitable conditions for persons identifying as transgender, nonbinary, and/or gender non-conforming to achieve full equality and equity.”
  • “‘Intersectional’ shall mean the interconnected nature of social categorizations and individual characteristics that overlap as interdependent and compounded systems of discrimination. These categorizations and characteristics include, but are not limited to, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, nationality, immigration status, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, education, language, and disability.”

KUSI-TV in San Diego aired the debate at the April supervisors’ meeting, along with the final vote on the resolution.

On its website, KUSI wrote: “Now in San Diego County, the definition of ‘women’ will include trans women and intersex women. Meaning, people considered ‘women’ under the new definition will be allowed in all county facilities including prisons, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters.”

The definition of a “woman” has been a topic of national interest lately.

A few weeks ago, at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said she could not answer when asked, “What is a woman?” 

Jackson’s reasoning at the time was that she wasn’t “a biologist.” 


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