Wanted: Radical sisterhood for our trans siblings in prison

Colorful-shes-hers-theys, <strong>Wanted: Radical sisterhood for our trans siblings in prison</strong>, Abolition Now! News & Views
Sometimes, it’s together in simple pragmatism that’s needed. “The bottom line is that SB132 (The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act) is the law. One would do well to bear that in mind. Aren’t inmates to obey the law? Isn’t that a part of our rehabilitation? Until it is not, SB132 is here to stay and it is up to us to make it work.” – Dana Gray

by Dana Gray

When people are allowed to perpetuate falsehoods unchecked, the ones who live in their shadow clutch tightly in fear and ignorance from rumors. This is the fallout of incitement. Mass hysteria is parallel to lemmings following each other off of a cliff. 

This is what is happening at CCWF in regards to SB132 (The Transgender Respect, Agency and Dignity Act; It allows incarcerated transgender, non-binary and intersex people to request to be housed and searched in a manner consistent with their gender identity) inmates. They have had a difficult transition, integration since February 2022. Some of it has been of their own doing because of disciplinaries and some of it not. 

In any gender identity group, there will always be the ones who are unethical. This includes cis-genders, transgender males and lesbians who make up the natal female population. This factor is not alien to any other gender identity; it is just under the microscope more because the SB132 population is so small and the focus is not on the person as a human being doing their own time, but their physical “intactness.” 

How is this any different from the natal women who have gender-affirming surgery (or not) but identify? Hurt people hurt people through hate as a distraction to their own trauma.

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CCWF did not prepare the population for SB132 inmates, nor did they prepare SB132 inmates for CCWF. I have befriended one transgender female here in the 512 Honor Dorm (HD). She has been pleasant, courteous, respectfully aware of the natal females’ fears of SB132 inmates in general and she is an ADAP (AIDS, Drug Assistance Program) worker in the unit. 

And yet, she has been derided and verbally abused, highly discriminated against and secretly complained against by some staff and inmates alike, and then assaulted in the chow hall by a transgender male who is now in ad-seg.

Most of these incidents have been perpetuated by 512 Honor Dorm residents. She has been denied the same rights given other HD residents like a common courtesy bed move. She hasn’t asked for anything else unless it was related to her disability. 

Yes, she is not only a 68-year-old Silver Fox, but deaf, which has made integration even harder due to communication issues. People in general do not understand that there are many levels of deafness, and just because someone wears a hearing aid doesn’t make them hear well. Not cheap CDCr hearing aids for sure!

So, how to remedy the overall discrimination? Well, there was no one thing that could smooth this path. The bottom line is that SB132 is the law. One would do well to bear that in mind. Aren’t inmates to obey the law? Isn’t that a part of our rehabilitation? Until it is not, SB132 is here to stay and it is up to us to make it work. 

That’s what integration means. It doesn’t work on its own just because it is in Title 15 and a penal code. It is going to take the entire CCWF population to put on their big girl/big boy panties in a community effort to make it work. All trans people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, because they are human beings, not objects. 

Thank you for considering another point of view,

Dana Gray

Send our sister some love and light: Dana Gray, W76776, CCWF 512-17-4L, P.O. Box 1508, Chowchilla, CA 93610.