A sexual assault survivor gave an inside look at living in a female prison with male criminals who say they identify as transgender in a new documentary released Tuesday by the Independent Women’s Forum, a conservative group.

The six-minute documentary, part of Independent Women’s Forum’s “Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Female Prisons” series, focuses on the story of Evelyn Valiente, a sexual assault survivor and former inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility. Valiente, who uses a pseudonym to protect her identity, was forced to share a housing unit with a male inmate who said he identified as a woman while serving time for killing someone in a shooting.


“At first I thought it was going to be OK [but] it didn’t take long before this one particular individual was manipulative, calculating, vindictive, and always looking and seeking to do harm to another person,” Valiente said of the “trans” inmate, who had a history of sex crime convictions.

In 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed legislation requiring the state’s prison system to house inmates based on their gender identity and not their biological sex. Under the law, corrections officers are required to ask inmates privately how they identify and then work to house them accordingly.

Before her time in prison, Valiente had been sexually assaulted. She said that being in the same housing unit as an individual who had been convicted of sex crimes, as well as other men, made it “scary” not only for her but for many other women who had “come from very abusive backgrounds.”

“It’s a lot of walking in trauma,” Valiente said.


Andrea Mew, storytelling manager for Independent Women’s Forum and co-producer of the documentary series, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that although California lawmakers claimed that the transgender inmate bill was about keeping inmates safe, the law actually further victimized women in prison who often have been abused previously.

“It’s really interesting that California, at the same time that they are focusing on being all about rehabilitation, are subjecting women to being retraumatized by a lot of their personal triggers,” Mew said. “Many women who are in prison are victims of sexual assault, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and having men in their spaces can be a very big trigger for them. At the same time, it’s allowing violent male criminals to have unbridled access to, in many cases, the thing that got them there in the first place.”

Currently, five states—Connecticut, Rhode IslandMassachusetts, California, and New Jersey—as well as New York City have passed laws allowing men who say they identify as women to be housed in women’s prisons. However, other states, such as Wisconsin, reportedly moved biologically male offenders who say they identify as transgender into all-female facilities despite their violent criminal histories.

In September 2023, a female inmate sued the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in New Jersey after she said she was assaulted in prison by a male inmate identifying as transgender. Another female inmate from New York City filed a lawsuit in January, claiming that a prison official instructed a male inmate who reportedly sexually assaulted her to say he identified as transgender so he could have “access to female inmates.”

Mew said she and co-producer Kelsey Bolar wanted viewers to imagine how they would feel if someone they loved in prison was forced to share a cell or a housing unit with a transgender inmate who had a history of violence.

“People need to put themselves in the shoes of people who are in prison and just imagine yourself in there, imagine your own daughter in there,” Mew said. “There are a lot of things that could happen that could get you into prison that are complete accidents, so imagine yourself or your own daughter is in that sort of accident. Put yourself in the shoes of the person there and think about how it would feel if you’re being physically, emotionally, and, in some cases as we’ve seen, sexually threatened by male criminals while you’re just trying to do your time and get home.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation