Thursday, October 30, 2008

Policy Changes to Provide Access

Now that the history of our Commissioners Directive 800 policy has been explored in detail, it is necessary to discuss possible alternatives to this discriminating policy. Possible alternatives would include changing the wording of this policy. By simply modifying specific words within the policy you could completely change the implications affecting transgender individuals in the prison system. As we know there are very negative implications for transgender individuals with the current policy in place. Although, through fairly minimal word changes in the policy we could drastically improve incarcerated life for the Trans community.
The goal intended when we speak about alternative policy development is to break down the barriers for Trans individuals, when seeking access to health care within the prison system. First it is crucial for us all to understand what "access" means. "Getting in the door is the first step but access includes more, such as the quality of services, as well as the spirit in which the service is provided. Access is a commitment." Access for a Trans person in jail is about respect, and allowing the Trans person to have control over decisions regarding their own bodies.
Breaking down barriers to create this aforementioned access is our next step in eliminating discrimination from this prison policy. Barriers include having the jail’s "specialist" be in control of the Trans person, rather than having the Trans person’s doctor have input. Another barrier is the strict one-year requirement regarding the life test. Lastly, the jail’s "specialist’s" need to "recommend" surgery is a final barrier inhibiting Trans individuals from accessing healthcare, as well as having control over their own bodies.
Recommendations would include having incarcerated transgender individuals’ doctors able to have input into the lives of their patients. Doctors that have spent time with these Trans people, while they were in the community, would have a better idea of the "readiness" of their patients. Also, by making the time restrictions on the duration of life tests a bit less rigid, we could improve the quality of life for many incarcerated Trans people. Lastly, we should eliminate the need for the jail doctor to "recommend" surgery, as this is a monumental barrier for many Trans people trying to gain access to their health care needs.

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