A transgender inmate who lodged a human rights complaint against Surrey Pretrial, alleging discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sex will have a hearing before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.
Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed.
“I am not offering an opinion on the likelihood of Ms. Sandve successfully proving her case at a hearing,” Prince said in her reasons for decision. “All I am saying at this stage is that a hearing is warranted.”
Sandve was incarcerated at Surrey Pretrial, predominantly occupied by men, from Oct. 24, 2017 to Jan. 22, 2018 and, while separated from the other inmates, requested to be transferred to a women’s jail but was denied. Sandve alleges being frisked by male staff, being “misgendered” by them, being the brunt of derogatory remarks and not being provided with green institutional clothing worn by women but rather the red clothing worn by men.
Corrections denied discrimination and applied to have the complaint dismissed on grounds it had no reasonable prospect of success, but Prince disagreed.
“In this decision, it is not my role to decide whether BC Corrections discriminated against Ms. Sandve or not, and I make no findings of fact in that regard. My task in this decision is to decide whether Ms. Sandve’s complaint against BC Corrections has no reasonable prospect of succeeding at a hearing,” Prince said.
Prince noted in her reasons that Sandve “says she requested section status because she did not feel safe in a jail full of men. While separately confined, she says male inmates slipped offensive and derogatory notes and drawings under her door, and asked her for sexual favours.
“I am not persuaded that Ms. Sandve has no reasonable prospect of proving that her sex and gender identity or expression were factors in the adverse impacts she experienced at Surrey Pretrial,” Prince decided.
A date for a hearing has yet to be determined.