August 6, 2011
On Being Transgender: Part 3
By Jennifer Gann
In conclusion, I will end this three-part series, On Being Transgender, with my feelings and hopes for the near future, and some longterm goals for myself.
First of all, I will continue my pursuit of higher education. I currently have done about 21 units of college credit from completing a semester of courses at San Bernardino Valle College in spring 1990 while confined at the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC) in Norco, and a couple of correspondence courses from Coastline Community College at Pleasant Valley in 2005-2006.
Additionally, I will continue to educate myself about my American Indian cultural heritage and Cherokee traditional customs. I will continue my spiritual practices as a devotee of our sacred Mother Earth, of Wakan Tanka, and my guru. In the near future, I hope to be able to enroll in some more college correspondence courses. I am very interested in American Indian and women's studies. I also hope to learn all that I can of Cherokee tribal traditions and become a registered tribal member.
As a transwoman prisoner activist, I plan to continue political education and organizing of other prisoners, particularly around LGBTQ equality and civil rights, through USW and the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP)! I will also continue blogging and trying to build AMP as a true revolutionary feminist vanguard from the vantage point of indigenous and third world women. AMP stands in solidarity with groups such as the Woman of All Red Nations (WARN) and the Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners (OOC).
As for longterm goals, ultimately, I seek to have SRS and breast augmentation to complete my gender transition. However, as a three strikes political prisoner and lifer, this will not likely happen unless the law is changed or I am given a sentence reduction and parole date. In the meantime, under the new Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), national standards being implemented by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), specifically Section 115.42, mandates "individualized determinations" of whether to house transgender inmates in a male or female facility," I will continue to seek a transfer to a women's facility.
As a transwoman prisoner and sex abuse survivor, I am inappropriately housed in a maximum security men's facility with convicted rapists and sexually violent predators (SVPs), and I am forced to double cell with male inmates against my will under threat of disciplinary action! Here you have an outrageous, criminal injustice being perpetrated on vulnerable LGBTQ prisoners by the government and state officials who deliberately jeopardize their personal contact with known rapists and SVP inmates!
Furthermore, I am subjected to sexual harassment and mandatory strip search body inspections by male correctional officers, in direct violation of the prohibition of crossgender strip searches.
Contrary to redneck, sexist prison officials' discriminatory opinions, I AM A WOMAN! Hear me roar! My physical appearance and gender identity is female. I'm small at 5'7", 165 lbs, with long auburn hair, pretty green eyes, and B-cup sized breasts. I do not belong in a men's prison with rapists!
Therefore, I pray for the day when I can be transferred from this hell-on-earth living nightmare to a women's facility with my sisters in struggle.
Viva las Amazonas!
In the spirit of Crazy Horse!
1. See e.g. Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146 (ND Cal. 1995)
4. In California state prisons, protective custody is known as "Sensitive Needs Yard" (SNY) placement, which is used to house inmates with a variety of safety concerns, including gang dropouts, LGBTQ prisoners, sex offenders, and inmate victims of assault.
5. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), which provides legal services to the transgender community, was named after her. http://www.srlp.org
7. See AMP Political Statement (amended and revised March 8, 2011)
9. Peter Mathiessen, In The Spirit of Crazy Horse: The Story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI's War on the American Indian Movement, (Penguin Books, 1983), pp. 410-411, 421-422, 516
10. "Justice Department Releases Proposed Rule in Accordance with Prison Rape Elimination Act" press release, January 24, 2011, http://www.justice.gov/printf/printout2.jsp
11. For further information on this issue, go to www.justdetention.org
12. According to the government's own recent estimate in a Department of Justice report, at least 216,600 people were sexually abused in prisons and jails in 2008, and 17,100 of these were juvenile detention cases. "New Government Report: At Least 216,600 US Inmates Sexually Abused Each Year", Action Update, March 2011, (Just Detention International, 2011); p. 2; http://www.justdetention.org
13. See California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Section 3287 (b)(3) and (4), which states in part: "Body inspections of clothed female inmates shall be conducted by female correctional officers only... Male correctional employees shall not, under any circumstances, perform non-emergency body searches of female inmates."
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