Friday, October 10, 2008

A Critical Analysis of Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) Policy for Transgender Inmates

Merely having policies in prisons that address transgendered people in general is not satisfactory. Anti-oppressive theoretical framework suggests that social relationships manifest in ways that give dominant groups power through systematically reducing, controlling, manipulating or immobilizing subordinate groups ( The current Sex Reassignment Surgery policy in correctional facilities can be dismantled to evaluate institutional injustices against transgendered inmates in this context.
Current Correction Services Canada policy is based on the premise that changing a person’s sex IS APPROPRIATE AND NECESSARY when recommended by a gender identity specialist to ATTEND TO the NEEDS of a transgendered individual. CSC acknowledges the need for SRS – they made a policy that adheres specifically to it, yet the policy is set up so there is LIMITED ACCESS to the means. Denying or making access difficult for subordinate groups is a form of systemic oppression.
The policies are layered in a way that one policy impacts another. They overlap so the transgendered inmate moves through the legislation facing constant roadblocks. Let’s critically examine how the policies around gender identity disorder are interwoven:
1) Subsection 33 (initiate or continue hormones), Subsection 34 (pre-operative placement), Subsection 35 (placement/ program decisions accommodate needs including safety and privacy) and Subsection 36 (SRS) are all limited to subsection 32 (label and continuity of healthcare).
Further, within the above:
2) Subsection 36 is limited in itself because a)need real life test that is not available behind bars, b) it’s ‘considered’, and c) it MAY then be ‘recommended’.
3) Subsection 34 (pre-operative placement) and Subsection 35 (placement/program decisions accommodate needs including safety and privacy) are limited to the occurrence of subsection 36 (SRS), which may not occur because subsection 36 (SRS) is limited to itself and #1.
And finally,
4) Being placed in a facility that adheres to the gender in which a transgendered inmate associates with (which would be the opposite of subsection 34, or post-operative placement) is contingent upon subsection 36 (SRS) – which may not occur based on all the above mentioned limitations.
The legislation makes SRS nearly unattainable, and consequently makes proper placement unattainable. This process is a cycle of exclusion and confusion for the transgendered inmate. It is accomplished through control and a process that makes the transgendered inmate immobile; thus it is discriminatory.
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