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Strip Search by Trans Guard Violated Inmate's Religious Beliefs: Court

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A strip search of a Muslim prisoner involving a transgender male guard violated his religious beliefs, a federal appeals court has ruled.The trans guard supervised a strip search of Rufus West, an inmate at the Green Bay Correctional Institution in Allouez, Wis., in 2016.

The searches involve one guard actually performing it while another observes. West is subject to the searches “when he leaves and reenters the prison, during lockdowns, before and after visits from outsiders and certain other movements within the facility, and whenever directed by a prison supervisor,” notes the ruling from the U.S.

Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.West objected to the search on religious grounds, as his faith mandates that he not appear unclothed before members of the opposite sex, except for his wife — and he considers a trans man a member of the opposite sex.

He asked for an exemption from what he deems “cross-sex strip searches” in the future, but prison officials denied this and said he would be disciplined if he objects again.

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