Friday, October 10, 2008

Impact of Gaps and Assumptions in SRS Policy for Transgender Inmates

The overall impact of Correction Services Canada SRS policy is that many transgendered inmates who are in desperation for the surgery do not receive it. The difficulties and restrictions in accessing SRS behind prison walls also render the transgendered inmate powerless. They are controlled under an institution that has policies with loopholes so many of those who want the surgery fall through the cracks.
There are huge implications for pre-operative transgendered individuals who are waiting for the surgery, or do not qualify (likely because they are blocked by at least one of the existing barriers in the policy) in that they are obliged to settle with hormone therapy for the time being. This is problematic because despite their transition to being feminine or masculine, they are held in male and female institutions respectively. For example, a male to female transgendered inmate may be stuck in limbo before surgery in a male prison where they are commonly abused, assaulted, harassed and/or exploited.
It is crucial to also interpret where the underlying tones in the policy come from. There are societal ideologies around heterosexuality and gender. Being heterosexual is viewed as the norm and anything that drifts from this is deemed as deviant. In our society, a person’s external appearance is assumed to match their gender identity. Because the transgendered community does not fit into either category, they are stigmatized and pushed margins of society where they are at a disadvantage. In a book called, “Transgender Rights” the authors state the following, “at the core of the law’s power over trans women and men is its ability to pronounce individuals legally female or male regardless of their gender identity or expression”, they also go on to say that there is paradigm enforced, especially by the courts, where “trans women and men have no place” (Currah P, Juang R.M., Minter S, pg 46, from ) . The policy reflects the general non-acceptance for transgendered people in society. Furthermore, since institutions like prisons hold so much power, they are responsible for reproducing incorrect assumptions and do not recognize transgender inmates as full and equal participants in society (
The overall impact of the combination of prison policy restrictions and ideologies sends a message across the board – that transgendered people are not the norm. Themes regarding social responses and belief about transgendered inmates are based on exclusion. They are excluded from personal and physical security and from non-discriminatory prison policy, where they are further excluded from adequate health care services.
For further information, please see: Transgender Rights by Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, Shannon Minter, Published by U of Minnesota Press, 2006 ISBN 0816643121, 9780816643127 368 pages or visit or
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