September 9, 2015 / 2:15 PM / 2 years ago

Caitlyn Jenner expresses concern over transgender women placed in men's jails

Caitlyn Jenner, recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, is seen on a TV set in the press room during the 2015 ESPY's award show at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California July 15, 2015. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - U.S. reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who is being investigated in connection with a fatal California car crash earlier this year, defended herself on Wednesday and expressed concern over county jails that place transgender people with the opposite sex.

Jenner, who transitioned to being a woman this year and at the time of the crash was known as Bruce, was driving a Cadillac Escalade in the February crash that killed one woman and injured another.

Los Angeles County authorities are considering misdemeanor manslaughter charges against Jenner and have said speed was a factor in the collision, according to media reports last month. Such a charge could carry a one-year prison sentence, according to NBC.

"That is the worst-case scenario ... It is an enormous problem that they would put trans women in a men's county jail," Jenner, 65, told NBC in the pre-taped interview, which aired on the "Today" program.

Transgender advocacy groups have said inmates who identify as another gender are at greater risk for abuse, including rape and are pressing for stronger protections. While such prisoners are sometimes put in solitary confinement, some jails have begun to open special transgender housing units.

Jenner, a 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medalist who later became known as part of the celebrity Kardashian family, said she remembered very little about the crash but was not speeding.

"All I needed was probably a half a second of time, I almost got stopped but couldn't quite get it stopped," she said.

In the wide-ranging interview, Jenner also laughed off the sale of Halloween costumes featuring her, although they have angered some who have said the outfits insult transgender people.

"I'm in on the joke. No, I don't think it's offensive at all," said Jenner, who revealed her transition in April and is now the star of her own reality TV show centered on the process.

She also rejected criticism from some sports commentators for being honored at the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) Award ceremony, saying she did not ask for the recognition.

Speaking while playing golf at a country club outside Los Angeles, Jenner said she recognized the role her fame and money has played during her public transition from Bruce to Caitlyn. In response to a question, she said she did not miss any part of living life as a man.

"There's nothing more, nothing better in life to wake up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and feel comfortable with yourself and who you are."

Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Eric Walsh and Frances Kerry

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