PA’s Treatment of Transgender Inmates is Human Rights Violation

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Transgender, gender variance, and related issues are some of the toughest to write about, because they are often the least understood by the general public. Indeed, I don’t even think I understand enough to really write about it. But what’s happening in PA’s prisons is a tragedy and a human rights violation; we’re not treating these individuals with the respect and dignity they deserve, and as a result they experience more violence and harassment than the average prisoner.

Here are just a few ways transgender individuals have it worse in Pennsylvania’s prisons:

  • Prisons often restrict the vital use of hormones by transgender inmates, even when they are under the care of a doctor. Stopping hormone treatment can cause serious heart and blood pressure problems, hair loss, depression and anxiety, and other mental and emotional health issues.
  • Only about 30% are in prison for violence or sex offenses. The other 70% are imprisoned for prostitution, drugs, probation violation, or minor infractions like bench warrants.
  • Housing transgender inmates is a complicated issue in prison. Bathrooms and other areas become places for harassment and violent attacks.
  • Administrators often place transgender inmates “in the hole,” for an average of 5 months per person, ostensibly for their protection or in retaliation for filingĀ grievancesĀ to improve prison conditions.
  • Harassment, violence, and discrimination are institutionalized against transgender inmates.

Even with my limited understanding of transgender issues, what I always want to emphasize is that transgender, gender variance, and other deep sexual issues are *not* the same as cross-dressing, drag, etc. So it’s deeply inaccurate and harmful to think of these people as a “man dressed as a woman” or “woman dressed as a man.” It’s much more than that.

About Greg

I founded Keystone Politics in 2004. Now I make stuff on the Internet for a living.
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2 Responses to PA’s Treatment of Transgender Inmates is Human Rights Violation

  1. Julieann Wozniak says:

    LGBT folks and Muslims are seemingly the last two categories of human experience where it's socially acceptable to let your inner bigot free reign. Outrageous. Disgusting. But nobody in the media or government raises an eyebrow when these people (and I use the term loosely) open their mouths. Prison guards don't exist in a vacuum, and reflect the attitudes of society as a whole.

    As for humane medical treatment, everyone is denied this. Deaths due to medical negligence occur on a regular basis in, for example, the Allegheny County Jail, as documented by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Recently, a man imprisoned for DUI literally got the death penalty.

    • Greg says:

      I agree Julieann – as a gay man I know I'm on the receiving end of this sometimes, yet can't fathom the barriers transgender folks face.