Monday, October 20, 2008

Transgender Policy: Discriminatory and Unfair

The laws which are created with the intention of “protecting” the transgender inmate are discriminatory, biased and unfair. Policy makers have inadvertently created a system which results in the production, maintenance and preservation of the ill treatment of the transgender individual. Moreover, it does this to such a large extent that it questions the intentions of policy makers to create a fair system to begin with. It is my intention to critically examine this law, in order to identify the various inadequacies that support its framework.
What I found to be chief contradictions and areas of discrimination were within the institutions obligation to deliver suitable health care to the transgender inmate. This policy specifically claims that all inmates have the right to health care and that staff members have an obligation to bring attention those inmates who appear to be ill in any way. Furthermore, emergency health care is a priority. In reality, we generally see this as applying to acute problems only. The distress transgender inmate’s faces are long lasting and constant. Inmate health care is flawed and will not support the transition of the transgender inmate regardless of the severity of distress. Inmates are unable to receive sex reassignment surgery and they are only granted hormone treatments if they request it, and make arrangements for the hormone to be sent to the hospital via a third party.
In some cases, the transgendered individual has lengthy sentences and although an inmate’s health care is subject to these considerations we do not see the process of transitioning as being a top priority. As a result, the denial or cession of a progressing transition causes exceptionally harmful psychological states.

Moreover, the transgender inmate faces further barriers when it comes to living arrangements. They are required to be placed in the institution based on their biological genitalia. This is unfair as you cannot create a uniform policy because the transgendered individual can be at a range of places on the transitioning continuum. For example, if they have partly transitioned, they may still have their biological gender; however, may look, speak and resemble the opposite gender due to extensive hormone use. It is dangerous to place these individuals with fellow inmates with whom they do not identify or classify as there same gender. To comprehend the unique problems faced by a transgender individual when entering this environment, please read the story of Kalani Key, a women’s story of survival in a male prison.