Lock Up Issues For Transgender People
Discrimination, bullying, harassment: talk to any transgender individual and you will likely hear that they have endured these for as long as they can remember. While it is clearly a problem, it doesn’t begin to alarm one as much as the fact that they frequently suffer cruelty and mistreatment from the very authority figures who are entrusted to protect and defend them.
Fears of Police
Sadly, many transgender people fear the police. In fact, according to statistics almost six in ten transgender individuals are reluctant to seek out law enforcement assistance when they need it. That’s because the transgender community—especially those of color– believe they are often profiled and harassed by police who are more interested in humiliating them than in protecting them.
Regrettably, the mistreatment doesn’t end after transgender people are arrested and locked up. Horrendous rates of exploitation and violence plague them—with physical and sexual attacks by fellow prisoners occurring at ten times the rate as for other inmates. Even more troubling is the fact that these vulnerable individuals are assaulted by staff at five times the rate as other inmates. And the intimidation doesn’t stop there: transgender inmates report long periods in solitary confinement and the denial of essential medical attention, as well. In total, more than one in three transgender individuals report having been raped while in prison—and that number is thought to be on the lower side of reality.
One of the most challenging aspects of lock up for transgender people is the fact that they are housed based on their gender identification at birth, not their current identity in the majority oof cases. That means that transgender women wind up housed with men, putting them at substantial risk of rape and other violent acts. Despite requests to be relocated to women’s facilities, these women are often denied transfers as a matter of course, even though federal laws require states to evaluate placements on a case-by-case basis and to consider where inmates would feel the safest. In truth, only about a dozen of the nearly 5,000 transgender people currently in state prisons are housed based on their lived gender identity.
Along with asking trans people where they would feel safest, federal law requires an interview twice yearly thereafter, wherein inmates’ concerns and experiences with violence are supposed to be weighed as housing determinations are made. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) is envisioned protecting all prisoners in general, and transgender people specifically, who are at highest risk of violence. Refusal to comply is supposed to put significant federal funding at risk—but it doesn’t seem to be playing out that way.
Fighting for Human Rights
At Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A., our dedicated Kissimmee criminal defense attorneys believe that transgender rights are human rights. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. If you or a loved one is a transgender individual who is struggling with legal issues, we are here to fight for the best possible outcomes. Schedule a confidential consultation in our Kissimmee office to discuss your situation today.