Monday, October 20, 2008

Discriminatory and Unfair Influence of Policy

As evidenced in the previous blog, the policies that are designed to protect the transgendered inmate are flawed, and this gravely influences and shapes the transgender inmate experience in the institution.

The policy we have chosen questions what it means to have equal access to emergency health care in Canada. More specifically, minorities receive poorer health care and as a result, have poorer health outcomes. This is certainly true for the transgender inmate as they are less likely to receive certain surgical procedures. The question is not do disparities in health care exist for the transgender inmate but the challenge is in developing and implementing certain strategies to eliminate them. This needs to happen from the bottom up, as it is evident in the prison system that these discriminatory policies could be said to encourage and maintain indifference.

The psychological state of the transgender individual is in constant turmoil. Often, the transgendered individual is at a point where they are trying to establish a personal sense of identity. This is extremely difficult to accomplish in an institutional setting because you’re working with a system that fails to recognize you as an individual. This is evident as transgender inmates are prohibited from receiving their surgery and from obtaining necessary hormones to maintain their transition. They may experience permanent side effects from being unable to transition such as anxiety and suicidal tendencies. Depression is the leading mental health concern among the transgendered population. For more information on how depression specifically affects the transgendered person, visit:
As we can see, it appears that the very notion of transgender is a psychological and medication problem. As a result, health care providers initially pathologize the transgender condition and in doing so place their mental illness as a secondary concern.

When transgender inmate is living with individuals they do not identify with, this creates an uncomfortable and dangerous situation. These inmates are neither sympathetic, now sensitive to their situation and may not agree to how they have chosen to live their life. Experiences often include sexual assault, brutality, threats and harassments. This may not only be coming from fellow inmates, but staff working in the institution also.