Tag Archive: incarceration

AIDS Conference Interruptus

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The 2015 US Conference on AIDS was held September 10-13 in Washington, DC.  On the opening day dozens of transgender and gender-nonconforming people seized the stage at the lunchtime plenary session to draw attention to HIV+ gender-variant people.

The group was chanting, We are not gay men! to protest the inclusion of trans women in gay male research and statistics.

Making a new plan, Stan

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has a new plan.

Under a new policy announced yesterday Sheriff Mirkarimi intends to house all inmates in San Francisco County’s jails by their gender identity.

He hopes to have transgender inmates living with their preferred population before 2016.

But transgender inmates who choose to remain in segregated housing or to continue living with other inmates who share the their birth sex can do so, according to Kenya Briggs, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

I carry the perspective forward that the transgender population is marginalized on the streets of America.  Consider how magnified that treatment is inside prisons and jails.

–Mirkarimi

Trans woman raped by corrections officer at Rikers, files federal lawsuit

A transgender woman, identified only as M.T., who is a former inmate at Rikers Island has filed suit in Manhattan Federal Court claiming she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a corrections officer at the Robert N. Davoren Complex after having been harassed for months by the officer.

M. T. claims she was raped by Officer L. Galan on Dec. 2, 2012.  

Galan stated that Plaintiff ‘could do this the easy way or the hard way,’ Plaintiff did not feel that (she) could walk away or call out for help.

–the lawsuit

Once she gets past the rape thing, she’ll be a queen

Mansfield Frazier says he is a former convict.  He served his detention in a federal prison, according to him.  He has written an opinion essay about what life will be like for Chelsea Manning in prison, which the Daily Beast has published, adding the following disclaimer:

This article is an opinion piece written by a former convict and based on his perceptions of life in federal prison.  In its original version, it suggested that prison rape is rare.  In fact, according to the advocacy group Just Detention International, 200,000 adults and children are sexually abused in American detention facilities every year.  This trauma can carry serious emotional and physical consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections.

I’m going to respond to Mr. Frazier, not form the point of view of a prisoner in a federal facility, but from the point of view I personally have.  I’m a transgender woman who formerly worked at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, the facility that Manning will probably get to call home for the next substantial number of years.

Cognitive Dissonance

Ashley Del Valle, 38, decided to take a vacation from her home in Queens, New York to sunny Savannah, GA.

Apparently that was her first mistake.

Del Valle has been living as a woman for 20 year and had her name legally changed in 2002.  She and her cousin decided a trip to Savannah would be fun.  They were wrong.

On Saturday Night, April 6, Ashley chose a sheer blouse to wear on their nightlife adventure for that day.  Mistake number two.

Del Valle, who appeared on an episode of TLC’s “NY Ink,” said she and her cousin were club hopping and hit popular gay club Club One as well as other clubs before stopping in Ellis Square to decide where to go to eat.

She said many people recognized her from the TV show and she was posing for pictures with tourists.

GA Voice

Early that morning (about 1am) she was arrested for indecent exposure by a Savannah Chatham Metro Police officer.  The police report claims that her breasts were exposed.  She disputed the arrest, which earned her a second charge of disorderly conduct.

She was then taken to the jail, where a she was examined by a nurse, who discovered she was still “technically male.”  So she was placed in a holding cell in the men’s portion of the jail.  For two days she was referred to as “a thing” and otherwise harassed.

I felt like I just wasn’t being treated like a human being.

–Del Valle

San Diego County to review protocols for transgender detainees

Five years ago the San Diego County Sheriff, Bill Kolender at that time, issued a two-page “training bulletin” as guidelines for handling transgender inmates at local jails.  The document provided Webster’s dictionary definition of transgender before adding the following:

It is believed that transgender individuals have always existed in our societies  These individuals are often viewed by their friends and families as the sex they are representing and their expectation is that society views them in the same manner.

The document was issued because of the death of a 35 year-old transwoman, Vanessa Facen.  She died in custody four days after a fight with deputies in the San Diego Central jail.  Even though she lived as a woman and had breasts, she had been housed with men because she still had male genitalia.  When the document was issued, the Sheriff’s Department also agreed to institute sensitivity training…but no formal policy was developed.

A Victory for the “Movement”

The big news about transpeople is not something which is likely to help us win friends and influence people.  On the other hand, the headlines are of some interest.  Transgender-inmate ruling is movement’s latest win says the AP’s Megahn Barr.  

So I guess we have won recognition as a “movement”.  On the other hand Michelle Kosilek is not going to win us any friends.  Federal Judge Mark Wolf has ordered a state-funded gender reassignment surgery for Kosilek, who during her transition in 1990 murdered her wife, Cheryl McCaul.  He strangled her with wire and left her body in the trunk of a car at a mall in North Attleboro, MA.  Kosilek is currently serving life without parole.

Wolf has ruled that Kosilek has suffered from gender identity disorder (newly rechristened “gender dysphoria”) since she was a young child, was “born in the wrong body” (Goddess, I hate that phrase), began taking hormones while in prison and requested treatment for her disorder.  Such treatment was denied.  As a result Kosilek twice has tried to commit suicide and also has attempted self-castration.  For 12 years her attorneys have been arguing that the Constitution states that she has the right to treatment for her condition.

Transwomen Incarcerated

Back in 1984 Calvin Burdine was convicted in the stabbing death of his gay lover, who had been trying to pimp him out.  The prosecuting attorney asked the jury to award Burdine the death penalty rather than life in prison, claiming that sending a gay man to prison was like sending a kid to a candy store.  

The jury agreed in only 17 minutes.  The judge also thought it sounded reasonable.

Fortunately, Calvin got a new trial since his public defender slept through the first one.

How ugly is that?

The reality that GLBT people experience in prison is far removed from the myth.  A young man named Rodney tells it like it is here.

I’ve heard before that ‘jail is a faggot’s dream.’ I assure you that cliché is not the case. Gay men who do not attempt to hide their sexuality are forced into passive and submissive roles. To live with some standard of equality, we have to trade in our manhood. We are completely emasculated. It’s a form of technical castration. The role of woman is forced upon us and any rebuttal is considered a sign of disrespect. My way of thinking about myself and my sexuality has been permanently altered.

–Rodney

And if that is how gay men are treated in prison, can you imagine the life of a transwoman sent to a men’s prison?  

A word about our healthcare

Recently the World Professional Association for Transgender Health released new guidelines for transition related medical care and therapeutic assistance for transgender and gender nonconforming people at a health symposium at Emory University in Atlanta.  This is version 7.  Version one was written in 1979 by Dr. Harry Benjamin.  One of the main changes is its title.  Called the Standards Of Care For Gender Identity Disorders in the last version (February, 2001) and all previous versions (1979, 1980, 1981, 1990, and 1998), it is now called the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People.

The sharp-eyed will notice that they dropped the words “Gender Identity Disorder”.  I can’t claim to have read every word yet, but I have been informed that the word “disorder” has been expunged.  The condition is now referred to as gender dysphoria…which I recall many of us using back in the early 90s (see The Uninvited Dilemma:  a question of gender by Kim Elizabeth Stuart.

My own feelings are not out of line with those of Sebastian and Annika at Autostraddle.

Justice would be nice

I don’t normally cover stories about transpeople committing crimes.  I hope that is understandable.  I write so that maybe someday we’ll get equal rights.  I personally don’t think transpeople committing crimes advances that cause.  I don’t write about those incidences unless something else is involved in the story, like maltreatment by the police or while incarcerated.

This past week I took another look at one of those stories.  I think it warrants some commentary.

Crishaun (Cece) McDonald is a 23-year-old transwoman from Minneapolis.  She has been charged with second-degree murder in the June 5 stabbing death of Dean Schmitz, 47, of Richfield, outside of the Schooner Tavern in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.

McDonald remains in jail in lieu of $150,000 bail. Because of his gender transition status, McDonald is being held in isolation for his own safety, said Tony Dulski, who looks after McDonald’s finances as a trustee and has visited him in jail.

Dulski said that McDonald is a man who is “in the process of becoming female,” receiving hormone treatment while living as a woman.

As a trustee and counselor, Dulski said, he helps McDonald handle his finances. McDonald, who attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College this past spring semester, receives Social Security disability payments because of emotional and mental difficulties tied to gender identity, Dulski added.

Don’t think we didn’t notice the use of the male pronouns.

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