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Mar 31, 2012
It all started when Wisconsin, catering to conservatives, who will find anything to complain about besides the issues that truly matter, decided to pass a law that bans inmates from receiving transition related treatment. The trans inmates, of course, revolted in the best way possible; they dropped the suehammer on their oppressors. Well, a few days ago, the Supreme Court of the United States, which is not known for their progressive jurisprudence, ruled that laws that single out trans inmates were unconstitutional:Earlier this week, we got the good news — the six-year battle was over. Wisconsin’s anti-transgender Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act was a thing of the past. The act was a one-of-a kind law banning prison medical care for a medical condition that is unique to transgender persons. The law prevented prison doctors from ever prescribing transition-related medical treatment, including hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery, to transgender prisoners. In May 2010, a federal district court struck the law down as unconstitutional and in August 2011, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. The third and final act of this legal drama was the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari on Monday.
So, now, those inmates who are being denied necessary treatment have the Supremes on their side and now must receive treatment for their condition. And perhaps there may be redemption for certain prisoners, as their feelings of hopelessness which lead to the transgressions that they have committed can be adequately addressed in an institutionalized setting through hormone therapy, surgery, and other responses, and can then have a smooth transition to the outside world once released.
In the above linked press release, ACLU attourney John Knight talks about all the struggles the organization had in defending their clients. One disturbing paragraph caught my attention.At trial, Wisconsin made the disturbing argument that this law was really for the good of the transgender prisoners, since denying them hormone therapy prevented or reduced the feminizing affects of that medication thereby reducing the risk of their assault by the male prisoners with whom they were housed. The court rejected this argument based on the evidence that transgender prisoners were at risk, with or without the feminizing effect of hormones, and because Wisconsin’s security expert admitted that it would be "an incredible stretch" to conclude that banning the use of hormones could prevent sexual assaults.
Is it just me, or does this sound a pinch like victim blaming. You go to jail because you have committed a crime, you do not go to jail to get assaulted, sexually or otherwise, and that transfeminine inmates, with or without surgery, must be housed in WOMEN’S PRISONS, which, unfortunately, correctional authorities are slow to grasp.
Several months ago, I wrote about the story of Christine Alexander, a transsexual woman in a Massachusetts men’s prison who must receive laser treatment for her 5 o’clock shadow. While I do celebrate this victory, it still makes me sad that treatment is still not available to many people who need it, and there needs to be SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE (which, if Obama decided to do instead of the Affordable Care Act, we wouldn’t have had the Supreme Court involved).
-Jordan Gwendolyn Davis