Been a While

Butterfly WomanSo, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been gone for a while. That’s due to a number of factors. First was Spring Break, where I considered doing a post that wasn’t tied to trans legal issues or my class, but ended up being busy and not dealing with it. Since then, other issues have come up, such as pain in my arm and shoulder, depression so deep that I was suicidal, and culminating last week in my laptop going kuput. Right around the time that finals papers are due. Needless to say, there’s been a big rush for me to get other stuff taken care of. However, I need to have four blog posts done for my activism class by the end of next week, so you’re going to get two posts each week! And I’ll try to have them for you on Wednesday and Friday, but due to the fact that my computer access right now is dependent on my roommate letting me use his, or having time free to snag one at school, means I can’t guarantee the days for sure.

Today’s post is one I was wanting to talk about a week or so ago, about issues affecting transgender individuals here in the state of Georgia. Here in Georgia, a trans woman named Ashley Diamond is suing the state to to allow her to undergo hormone therapy while in prison. She was convicted on charges of burglary in 2012, and has yet to receive hormone therapy while in a men’s prison. Unlike the case of Chelsea Manning who came out and began physical transition while in prison, Diamond was already living as a woman and taking hormones when she was convicted.

Two weeks ago, the US Department of Justice sided with her, declaring the denial of hormone treatment as cruel and unusual punishment, because it can lead to pain, muscle spasms, and loss of breast tissue. This led to Georgia just last week declaring that they will begin providing hormone treatment for transgender prisoners. Georgia is not the only state dealing with issues of what kind of treatment trans inmates should receive. Also last week, California was ordered by a federal judge to provide genital reconstructive surgery for an inmate. While this is all good news, it does not address a larger issue.

The larger issue is the fact that transgender individuals are being put in prison at high rates, and that they are not being put in the proper prisons. In the case above, Diamond was put in a men’s prison, as was CeCe McDonald when she was in prison. One of the reasons I fear so much about being attacked while down here in Georgia is the fact that while I am legally female, I would be put in a men’s prison because of my genitals, and that I would most likely be placed in solitary confinement “for my protection.” That may seem backwards, but as the case with CeCe shows, even defending myself will result in me being charged, rather than my assailants. And with my hand-to-hand combat training from both the martial arts growing up and the military later on, if it came to my not being able to just use a can of pepper spray or a stun gun, I would likely inflict severe damage to any assailants to protect myself. This isn’t just a worry about being trans either. It’s happened to white, male veterans as well, such as this gentleman who did a TED talk while in prison discussing it.

Simply put, our society is making strides in regards to trans equality, but they need to start taking some bigger strides.

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3 responses to “Been a While

  1. Yet another well written well thought out post. I didn’t consider how high a rate individuals who are transgender are being put in prison before. I am considering it now.

    • The injustice faced by trans people here in the states is intense. In the 2010 Injustice at Every Turn survey, the results were staggering. I’ll include a direct quote from that below.

      Sixty-three percent (63%) of our participants had experienced a serious act of discrimination — events
      that would have a major impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to sustain themselves financially or
      emotionally. These events included the following:
      •Lost job due to bias
      •Eviction due to bias
      •School bullying/harassment so severe the respondent had to drop out
      •Teacher bullying
      •Physical assault due to bias
      •Sexual assault due to bias
      •Homelessness because of gender identity/expression
      •Lost relationship with partner or children due to gender identity/expression
      •Denial of medical service due to bias
      •Incarceration due to gender identity/expression

      Almost a quarter (23%) of our respondents experienced a catastrophic level of discrimination —- having been impacted by at least three of the above major life-disrupting events due to bias. These compounding acts of discrimination — due to the prejudice of others or lack of protective laws — exponentially increase the difficulty of bouncing back and establishing a stable economic and home life.

      • The fears of so many of us that your statistics confirm keep far too many from transitioning, making far too many lives miserable and worse causing far too many to end their lives. i am in awe of the brave men and women who have the courage to be themselves and for the brave wonderful parents and families who support them…………………..sigh

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