First, the only protection a trans woman in a federal prison can request is extended solitary confinement, known to cause serious mental health problems, and considered to be the equivalent of torture by almost everyone who studies prisons and incarceration. People held in extended solitary confinement usually emerge with pretty severe mental problems.

Second, and as I cited in my article, trans women have been held in federal women’s prisons for years with no corresponding rise in complaints about sexual harassment, abuse, or assault. Conversely, the rate of trans women assaulted in men’s prisons is through the roof.

Third, if you think that somebody needs to commit a serious string of crimes before being sentenced to a longish stretch of time in federal prison, then you need to read up on federal mandatory minimum sentencing. (Eh, Eric Griggs?)Probation for minor drug crimes is common in some state systems, but it’s almost unheard of in the federal system.

Fourth, even if “Alicia” had committed a more serious or violent crime, we’re not supposed to punish people in the United States by deliberately sentencing them to inevitable sexual assault or prolonged solitary confinement. That would be inhumane and contrary to our national values and collective sense of morality. Transgender women don’t deserve to be subjected to harsher punishment and cruel treatment simply because they’re trans. This is the United States — not Iran or Saudi Arabia.

cc: Saoirse, alto, Kay Bolden, M. J. Murphy

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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