WOMEN IN PRISON SPEAK OUT

ALANIS

Federal Prison, Canada

ALYSSA

Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla

ANNABELLE

Female Former Prisoner, Scotland

FDJ

Former female offender, England

JANE

Federal Prison, Canada

LORRAINE

California Institution for Women

MARION

Federal Prison, Canada

REBEKAH

Female Former Offender, England

RHONDA FLEMING

Federal prisoner, Florida

SAMANTHA

Fraser Valley Institution, Canada

SONDRA

Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla

TANYA

Grand Valley Institution, Canada

VICKY

Female Former Offender, England

ZOEY

Federal Prison, Canada

ALANIS

Federal Prison, Canada

“This is real life stuff. It was happening when I was in and it’s going to continue to happen until people actually take a stand. When it mentioned the morning-after-pill being handed out, it’s not just a ‘story’. It happened, I was there. The “wo”man (who had a full grown beard and didn’t take hormones) lived in my house. He even tried to get with me on numerous different occasions. Not only was I disgusted, but I didn’t even feel safe walking to my room from the shower.”

ALYSSA

Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla

“We made some horrible decisions in life but that doesn’t mean we are horrible people. We are sentenced to prison with lengthy terms, not to be tortured throughout them by sexual predators, from mentally to emotionally which is sometimes worse than physical. We got to this breaking point from the traumas in our childhoods and not asking for help or talking about it. Now we are asking you to imagine placing your favourite person, daughters, nieces in a bathroom for a weekend for punishment with a known rapist. Those of us who are strong enough are speaking up and seeking help. Help keep us safe in the environment where we are already living with the punishment as our consequences for the wrong choices we made years ago.

What about those of us who have a history of being a battered woman? How can I go to a domestic violence healing group or self-help group where I have to speak up on deeply emotional topics when I am afraid? I barely want to talk to a male nurse in a small enclose room, but I have to keep self-talking myself he won’t hurt me. I have to be by the door or have a way out when I do talk to male staff. It’s sad, but this is my reality.”

August 2021

ANNABELLE

Female Former Prisoner, Scotland

“Women in prison are human, they are human and their lives are just as important as anyone else on this earth. These women are daughters and sisters, mothers and wives. Women are not worth less than men and they are certainly not any less deserving of privacy, dignity and respect because they are in prison. Female prisoners are extremely vulnerable and the fact that they cannot leave the prison automatically puts them at a higher risk of abuse, they have no choice but to live in very close proximity with violent men who have committed rape, murder and serious sexual and violent offences against women.

These men are extremely dangerous to women. In fact these men have disproportionately higher rates of sexual offending than the men who don’t claim to be women, approximately 2.5 times more! The fact that men are in the women’s estate is appalling enough, but to serve these women up to these predators on a rainbow platter in a place where they have no escape is beyond evil to me. How can anyone say they have a trauma informed approach when looking after these women whilst forcing them to live with violent males? They are either lying or they are wilfully ignorant. Both excuses are unacceptable.

Women in the female estate usually come from backgrounds punctuated by male violence. They have experienced domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and much more. These vulnerable women come from households where domestic abuse, alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling are all seen as normal every day life. What we are doing in these situations is criminalising trauma and poverty. Most of these women are imprisoned for non-violent crimes. Female criminal behaviour is very different to male criminal behaviour.

Allow me to share some of my experiences during my 7-week remand in a female prison. This is something I’ve put to the back of my mind in order for me to survive without exacerbating my trauma. Like most of the female prisoners, I’ve also experienced all of the aforementioned traumas and more.

To be taken to prison is frightening, it’s traumatic and it’s highly dangerous. When I arrived I was terrified, I was disorientated, embarrassed and in so much pain from missing my children. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. When I realised I was to be housed with two men I thought I might actually pass out. I felt the colour drain from my face and my heart began to pump at a higher rate than it already was. My knees began to feel weak and the tidal wave of panic crashed over me. I was having a full blown panic attack. Here I was in prison, with no means of escape, no privacy, no dignity and no hope. I was worrying about my future, my children, their school work, their home life, their extra curricular activities, their homework. Who would look after them in my absence? Who will keep them safe and feed them? Who will make sure the effects on them are minimal? Will I be able to see them? My head was swimming with worry for my children and I couldn’t think about anything else.

I was on a mission to keep my head down, get a job to keep me busy and keep as much contact with my children as I could and NOTHING was going to jeopardise that for me. My aim was to get through this horrific experience as best I could and by keeping myself busy with education, exercise and a job in the prison. I have serious mental health conditions that I’ve never been able to get professional help with and I was very aware that with the way I was feeling there was a possibility that I could very quickly become suicidal.

Yet here is a man in front of me. There was no mistaking it, no denying it, no getting away from it. This man was huge, way over 6ft and very heavy. He wore male clothing, he had a male voice, he wore no make up, he took no wrong sex hormones, and had no GRC. What he did have was a penis. Like over 95% of these men who claim to be women do. He was also in prison for domestic abuse against his female partner and here he was lording it over the vulnerable women.

We were forced to call him by a female name. We were forced to use she/her pronouns for this man, this man who attacks women. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t catch my breath, I was frozen to the spot and I was frantically trying to work out if I was hallucinating. This couldn’t be real, how could this be possible? How is it possible that in a female prison I would need to worry about being attacked and/or raped by a man? A man who has committed violence against women. Violence serious enough to land this man in prison. It seemed to me I’d been dropped into the fiery bowels of hell and this man had just been given a golden ticket to heaven.

From that moment on I couldn’t concentrate properly. I found it very difficult to feel safe and spent the whole time in prison on constant high alert. You can imagine my shock when I discovered there were in fact TWO men in the prison I was in. The second man was serving time for murder and just like the first he had no GRC and still had his penis. I felt like someone had let the foxes into the hen house and I didn’t want to leave my cell. We didn’t have showers in our cells and so we had to shower in the communal shower block with only a curtain for safety. Women who are traumatised and vulnerable are having to be naked and shower with men in their spaces and some decided not to shower at all.

We do fear we will be raped or assaulted and that is not something any woman should ever have to worry about. This certainly shouldn’t be a worry any female prisoner ever has. I made sure that I went to the doctor in the prison and I was given a contraceptive coil. Something I have never used nor wanted to use but I couldn’t take the risk of being raped and becoming pregnant and so I went to the medical bay and had a procedure done that before I’d never wanted or needed. Women should never be in the position where they need to even contemplate these things. Soon I need to make another appointment to have this device removed which fills me with dread due to being a rape and sexual assault survivor. I cant believe I have to go through this again, four years after leaving prison, it almost feels like another violation on my body that I didn’t want. As usual it stems from men.

I didn’t want to see men there but I did. I didn’t want to share showers with men but I was forced to. I didn’t want to see men prance about naked in my shower area yet there they were doing just that. I didn’t want men in my gym class but they were there. I tried to escape them by working in the salon to no avail. The murderous man worked there. I attended the education classes and still there were men. Locked in a holding cell with no prison officers, waiting to attend a visit with my children and who’s sitting next to me? A male prisoner! What could have happened to me in those 15 minutes while I was locked in that holding cell without any protection, with a violent man and no means of escape? Is this a risk I have to take every time I want to see my children? Should I be placed at risk? Do I not matter because I’m a woman? Or is it because I’m a woman in prison?

There is no escaping these men from morning until night and unless women refuse to work and remain in their cells they can’t be safe. These women don’t deserve to be confined to a cell where they have no interaction with others. They don’t deserve to be ostracised from the other women due to trauma and fear. Why do these women need to lose out on education, exercise, religious groups, mental health support and family visits?

Women are tiptoeing on a never ending bed of eggshells every time a man is placed in their prison. The crippling fear that you might accidentally call this man “he/him” is palpable. The punishments for “misgendering” these men vary. A woman can be charged, a woman can be written up which affects too many things to mention. She can have privileges withdrawn. She can be locked in her cell for longer than the usual 23 hours. She can have visitation removed and she can also be transferred to a different prison. Literally evicted for using the wrong pronoun (well the correct pronoun). The effects of doing this to vulnerable women are endless but the thing that kills them the most is the fact that they are often moved hundreds of miles away from the families because there are so few women’s prisons in the UK. Do these women really deserve to be dragged through the criminal justice system like this? Like they’re worthless? Do their children deserve any of this?

I understand some of these men may well be classed as vulnerable when placed in the male estate. But guess what? Prisons have a way of looking after vulnerable male prisoners in the male estate, they’ve managed to do it up until now so what’s changed? There are many, many men who are more vulnerable than a man who changes his pronouns. Gay men, skinny men, effeminate men, younger men, older men, men with serious mental health issues, men with addictions, men who have committed crimes against children and many more. These men are far more vulnerable and yet they are never transferred to a women’s prison. Go figure!

This is because it’s unethical, evil, extremely dangerous and downright wrong to house any male prisoner with female prisoners and we ALL know this. Why we’re pretending we don’t is quite frankly abhorrent. WOMEN ARE NOT HUMAN SHIELDS.”

FDJ

Former female offender, England

“Being in prison with male prisoners, you always feel on edge. You know something could happen at any time. We know they are not women. They are physically threatening and aggressive. I was sexually assaulted and I am not the only woman who has been. They haven’t had surgery and they expose themselves. One of them had been told he couldn’t shower at the same time as us women. He made a formal complaint and said this was a breach of his human rights. So now he is allowed to shower with us. And because he now has that right, the other males have that right too. There’s only a shower curtain between us. He moves the curtain so we can all see his penis when he is washing himself or shaving his legs. This is disgusting and I think it is disgusting that the prison allows this.

We can’t complain about anything. They are very well protected and it feels like our rights as women just don’t count. We have to call them ‘she’ and ‘her’ and have to use their female names. If we don’t, we are punished and lose our enhanced prisoner or D-Category status. It is horrible to do that to women.

I am very upset that I lost my legal case. I can’t understand how anyone can say that imprisoning males alongside women is the right thing to do. The prisoner who attacked me was convicted of the most serious sexual offences against girls and still has his penis. How can the government say that putting him in prison with women is the right thing to do? It’s not. I am out of prison now. But I think about all the other women still in prison who have to live with these males. This is dangerous, disgusting and wrong.”


JANE

Federal Prison, Canada

“When I was serving time in a woman’s federal prison I had my share of experience with trans prisoners. I never saw them as different, as a threat, as less than and I still don’t just to be clear. In fact I became friends with one. That particular friendship became strained when the person became physical and assaultive toward other female inmates.

Prior to her conviction she had been living as a man for 40 years and transitioned to a [woman] just before her crime, which was extremely violent. Once convicted and sentenced she was sent to a women’s federal prison where she became a ‘lesbian’ and eventually married the other prisoner. Once during an altercation that was ignited by her relationship, I watched her, the trans [prisoner] who was once a very, very large man who was still large and had a big booming voice, actually knock the other female inmate unconscious with one punch. Later on, other females came with weapons to stop the assault and guards intervened. [The trans prisoner] was briefly put in [segregation], told she would be shipped out if she put her hands on another woman again. Who knows if it ever happened again what I witnessed, but it was very scary to witness, as in my childhood I watched my father physically assault my mother and I felt so helpless. This incident none the less triggered me.

I did have a few other experiences with trans who had been transferred from the men’s [penitentiary] after surgery. Both were violent sex offenders who preyed on the women in the [prison] population. One in particular was put into [segregation] for allegations of rape then re-released into the [general prison] population to which he (or she) started a relationship with other sex offenders in the yard and they had to be moved into other living units after people complained of the sexual acts happening in adjoining rooms and a dispute over contracting the herpes virus made news around the inmate population.

Another incident was when I joined a volunteer appreciation social event with my young child and was told by a guard on the low down that there was an extremely violent child sex offender present who hadn’t been in the presence of a young child in a very long time. His victim was a 3-month old boy and mine was around the same age and a boy as well, and they were unsure of how he (or she) would react. Needless to say I wanted to leave ASAP and they never told me which [prisoner] it was, so I sat in a corner until we left and didn’t mingle or get up to get food as I wanted to. Once I was informed of the sick and brutal nature of the specific crime against the child, I regretted even going or letting that person set eyes on my child or be in the same room.

A few months after that, that individual was placed in the house next to the Mother Child Program House and got into several altercations as a result of him (or her) looming around the Child Program. At the time there was a very young boy there as well. These accusations of looming around the Child Program resulted in a dispute in which this trans inmate sex offender then literally picked up and threw a female inmate and charged after her once she was on the ground to continue the assault. Luckily guards intercepted, but they segregated the female inmate for inciting a reaction for confronting this trans inmate sex offender for his (or her) actions.

I speak from my own personal experience and perception not due to any grudge or dislike for trans individuals.”

LORRAINE

California Institution for Women

“I have been incarcerated for nearly 18 years and I have never experienced something as crazy as this. Bringing men into a woman’s facility with this law being so broad is putting all women in danger. I know that we as women were told that these men would be vetted so that we would be safe, but that was a lie. There is no denying any of them from coming for any reason. So men who have harmed women and hate women are allowed here to have a free range of victims. Since this transition has happened, there have been condoms passed out so no one contracts diseases to gets pregnant since none of the men have to be on hormones and do have working penises. I feel that the Correctional Department of California is making this a co-ed place and not thinking of the safety of anyone. In one of our medical facilities there is a giant poster posted telling us how a pregnancy will be handled, so the Title 15 (the Minimum Standards for Local Detention Facilities) is a total contradiction. We are told sex is not an option, but the message is getting blurred.

I don’t want anyone to get my opinion wrong. I don’t care what anyone chooses to do with their life, but when it puts mine in danger I have a problem.”

August 2021

MARION

Federal Prison, Canada

“It is sad that CSC feels they need to protect the rights of Transgender women at the cost of putting actual women at risk. I am not sure, when the system stopped caring about the actual inmates it housed and put its own political agenda before our safety, but it’s happening each and every day in the women’s jails across Canada, and I have bore witness to it too many times.

I just was forced to live in a unit with a self proclaimed “transgender” who we will remain nameless. I don’t say it like that out of disrespect or transphobia, I am a lover of and member of the LGBTQI community and am friends with many trans people. However, the lack of protocol CSC has in place allows any man to proclaim trans status to be transferred to a women’s prison to do their time. This such individual, told me themselves that their presence at [redacted] was a coup and they were playing the system. I witnessed them have sexual relations with eight different women I was aware of, and causing such emotional chaos between some of the women (some were driven to attempted suicide, and violent attacks on this person).

This person thought is was a game to them and treated the women in the prison as toys to be played with; this should never be a situation women are stuck dealing with. We are already in a vulnerable and damaged situation, now we have to worry about being preyed upon by men who have no cares for our emotional well being. Prior to my release this individual was charged with sexual assault and harassment on a woman in our living unit. This never should have happened, it was just one event of many he was guilty of. He threw his own sh*t and p*ss at a woman out side his living unit one day because she called him a rat… women don’t do things like to each other and we never have. I have done over 20 years in jail and never seen anything quite like the things this individual did, and claimed to be a woman. No woman should be susceptive to that kind of living environment.”

REBEKAH

Female Former Offender, England

“Today, as an ex inmate, I’m speaking on behalf of my incarcerated sisters, and I hope my words represent their perspectives and fears whilst they are unable to speak out.

Women in prison do not operate in a hierarchy. We innately recognise trauma in one another and we tend to band together and form attachments. Inside, this tendency is amplified because all we have is each other. Of course there are fall outs and shifting alliances, but despite this there is always a stable power balance that remains relatively static. The presence of just one man takes this stability and throws it into chaos. Even if that man is one of the ‘good guys’ the dynamic in a group of women will be irrevocably altered, and they will have to sacrifice the links of comfort and security they’ve been able to build and count on in an otherwise abysmal situation.

We KNOW, however, that these particular men are never, ever, even remotely ‘good guys’. They’re predators. A full 60% of male prisoners presently identifying as transgender have been convicted of sex offences, and knowing the pathetically low rates of conviction, it’s safe to assume these are extremely serious offences. These men know exactly what they’re doing, and so do the prison officers, governors and policy makers that have green lit this disgusting process at every step, allowing them access to some of the most easy targets.

There is not one single aspect of life inside that wouldn’t be adversely affected by having mixed sex facilities. Women will avoid showering in communal washing spaces. They’ll stay in their cells during any recreation time if common areas are dominated by men. They’ll stop going to the gym and stop partaking in enriching activities – this has already happened, in 2018 a male murderer named Alex Stewart was placed in HMP Greenock and proceeded to destroy a women’s fitness tournament. Of course, anyone that had a problem with this was labelled transphobic and thusly dismissed.

Male and female prisoners are VASTLY different demographics.The female prison population is just 5%, and we’re imprisoned overwhelmingly for non violent offences. This cannot be overstated. We are not the same as male criminals, we do not share anything like the same offending pattern. Ministers and legislators know this damn well and flagrantly disregard the already scant wellbeing of women to appease the whims of manipulative men. It is utterly contemptible that the women bearing the sharp end of this abhorrent capitulation are the ones most in need of protection.

This mad idea that men magically become women on their say so is a nefarious lie, and this twisting of reality is making its way into legislation and the highest echelons of lawmaking. The analogy of foxes in henhouses has never been more apt. HOW has it happened that rapists, child molesters and murderers are being given a state sanctioned free pass to continue abusing? Who the hell let this happen?

We’re here to hold to account every person that implemented this dangerous nightmare, and urge them to consider the devastating consequences of their actions. We want nothing less than a total reversal of this awful policy. We demand the removal of every single man from women’s prisons, recognition that a mistake of unfathomable magnitude has been made, and a promise that this can never, EVER happen again.”

RHONDA FLEMING

Federal Prisoner, Florida

“I am a spiritual woman and I am deeply bonded in my soul with my sisters in prison. I have a multi-ethnic background and this enables me to be close to so many of these lovely ladies. My heart, as a mature woman, grieves for these young women…some so broken from abuse by people they should have been able to trust. I have to watch them be sexually abused by male officers, repeatedly, over the years, a “me, too” problem that has not been solved.

It is hard for a young woman that has been molested by a parent, to serve time in prison, with child molesters. These inmates are a constant reminder to women (and male prisoners at men’s prisons) of the abuse that lead them to drugs, and subsequently, prison. Unfortunately, this is part of the prison experience. When you add the pressure placed on us, the injustice of it, forcing women to live with men, that self-identify as being women, in our cells and cubicles, in showers and toilet areas, it is intolerable and I will never accept it.

My name is Rhonda Fleming and I am a federal prisoner at FCI-Tallahassee. I am serving time for a white-collar, financial offense. I am incarcerated with men that self-identify as being women, or in many cases, they identify as women that are lesbians or bisexual. I have served many years, in different federal prisons with these male inmates, and the bad behavior is universal: routine sexual harassment/assaultive conduct, denial of bodily privacy and religious freedom to practice the tenet of modesty, and the inability to use the time in a prison to recognize poor choices, bond with other women with similar experiences, and grow while preparing to re-entering society. These male inmates are a disruptive force in women`s prison and are denying women the chance to heal and become better people.

I have personally experienced sexual harassment, threats of assault after I filed a lawsuit, and physical intimidation by male inmates in the prison. Once a woman makes it clear that she is not interested in befriending or hanging out with these men, they become petty, like a little boy that is rejected in grade school. It is a frightening experience because these men are not petite, effeminate males, but large, strapping, aggressive, criminal-minded men, violent inmates.

They are incarcerated for violent crimes and many, if not most have a criminal history of violence against women. Most women in prison do not have a history of violence against other women. Instead, women inmates have a history of sexual abuse, rape, and sometimes, sex-trafficking of their bodies by men. So many of us are afraid of men. These fears are not irrational.  What little girl has not been cautioned be careful about how she dresses or has had to be instructed by a parent to tell them if any person touches them in the wrong way? Who are committing these sex crimes against children and women? Men!

For decades, women in prisons have been the victims of sexual assaults, rapes, and harassment by male correctional officers. At FCI-Tallahassee, the Department of Justice is in the process of paying settlements of large amounts of money, sometimes in the millions, for their employees sexually abusing women in the prison. A doctor at FCI-Tallahassee, while performing pap smears, was allowed to sexually assault numerous women inmates during a procedure that is offered to save lives from cancer. Out of fear of being molested, I have not had a PAP smear in years.

With all of this sexual misconduct going on in the prison, how is it a good government policy to place men in the prison with women? The right to bodily privacy, in conjunction with religious freedoms, is completely denied to women in federal prison in Florida. So many of us fell into lifestyles that were not just harmful in being incarcerated, but devastating to the emotional health of women. Selling their bodies for drugs, due to addiction, being sober, and having to face themselves after having fell so low, no women striving for change, through the support of religious or psychology services in the prison, can achieve emotional healing while being sexually intimidated and taunted in showers by male inmates, offering sex with them or demanding it.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all share a common tenet in their faith: Modesty. We remember how our mothers taught us to cross our legs when we sat down with a dress. We were trained not to expose our bodies to our male family members. It is natural for a woman to fear being naked in the presence of an unknown male, especially in a prison.

Who in their right mind has disregarded a woman`s innate right to bodily privacy, even in a prison? A federal woman prisoner in the United States cannot take a shower in peace, to have the relaxation of being clean, after a hard day of work in prison. And yes, many prisoners work long days, some 14 hours in food service or learning the plumbing trade. All humans need peace…some level of tranquility.

I think about what prison means to women. This is a time for healing…bonding between women, with similar experiences, helping each other to put the past behind them, and reach for the goodness of being alive with all the possibilities of a second chance. The public does not know how close some women prisoners become. As my dear father said at the beginning of this year, you ladies have been incarcerated for long, some of you are closer to the people in prison, than family in the community. I embrace this closeness and am a mother figure for many of these young women. Our ability to become better people and contribute to our communities has been stifled by intimidation by male inmates and prison officials’ attempts to indoctrinate us into believing that these male inmates are women.

Sadly, I watch as the prison peddles testosterone to confused young women, telling them that it is okay to identify as being “men.” Women that identify as males are not treated equally, which is not surprising, because this transgender policy is about men dominating women in a manner that is more atrocious than anything women pioneers for equal rights ever endured.

We are staying strong and continuing to challenge this unlawful policy in the United States federal court system. I thank you for all of your support of Keep Prisons Single Sex.”

March 2021

Rhonda Fleming #20446-009
FCI-Tallahassee
PO Box 5000
Tallahassee, FL 32314

SAMANTHA

Fraser Valley Institution, Canada

“[Name redacted] did the same at FVI. Several complaints about sexual harassment and gropings and he was placed in [segregation] more than once because of this. There was even an order to have him shipped out due to this behaviour, but he was released soon after regardless.

Let me add my rant about the violent trans, or so-called trans [name redacted] prowling the mother and child houses yard and engaged in several sexual acts with numerous woman and being very sexually aggressive. Because of their presence in the yard, I told them I wouldn’t keep my child in the program unless I got my minimum. Just before his birth I got my minimum thank God. But a few months later they moved a few [trans prisoners] into our single building minimum which basically left me confined to my unit unless I was okay going into the leisure areas or anywhere besides my unit and being in their presence. They had zero restrictions in that manner for them. I was told if I didn’t like it, then not to go into those areas where they were. I spent lots of time on my unit with my child due to this.

It was so awkward for me. And I couldn’t be rude or aggressive or even give them dirty looks, or I’d get a bad report written about my attitude while in the mother child program. One [trans prisoner] leaned down and said “he’s so cute”. I almost lost my sh*t!! I was like, remember, parole in 3 months, just walk away.”

SONDRA

Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla

“Can somebody please help us women in California Women’s Prisons? Most recently men with a functioning penis have been transferred to this facility claiming they’re transgender under a new bill SB 132.

Currently I’m housed at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, CA, the world’s largest women’s prison. I have been incarcerated for almost 27 years for a crime I committed when I was 16 years old. I was sentenced to juvenile life without parole. I come from a background of physical, mental and spiritual abuse, emotional neglect, molestation at the age of seven, rape, rejection, abandonment and rooted toxic shame. I have for many years been working on many factors and choices that led me to participate in my life crime. I’ve been through intense therapy and self-help groups acquiring healing and understanding. When a few months ago I was told that I should prepare to live with a man. Wait, what? I have no choice?! If I refuse to live with a man I will get rehoused in the ‘hole’. Please do your research of a prison ‘hole’ and tell me how this is fair or right. Not only that but I will get a rule violation. This means losing everything I’ve worked hard to earn like living in an Honor Dorm, access to my education, self-help, therapy, and any little sanity I have of prison normalcy.

What about my mental state? Personally I’m terrified of having to live with a man. I’m talking about the ones that are lying to get to a women’s facility to get all the p***y they want. Their words. I’m a petite woman, how will I fight off a man or help someone if I see her being assaulted?”

TANYA

Grand Valley Institution, Canada

“I was an inmate at Grand Valley on a 4-year prison sentence. Well I was incarcerated I was housed with a transgender male. This inmate would tell each women that would move to our unit “I may identify as a women but I’m really a man. I act like a man I think like a man so I must be a man!” She would make comments like are you married cause I would marry you in a heartbeat. She on another altercation punched me in my shoulder and bruised it. I never said anything only to someone I trusted. The guards came and removed her from the unit. This inmate would ask us girls to look at their private area (because she had the surgery). To me I’m sorry she identifies as a lady but she’s built like a man her hands look like men, she acts like a man why are they allowed to housed with the women. Another thing there are a lot of females there that have trauma and feeling, and anxiety because of men yet they are allowed to interact and do programs with women that have trauma. To me that’s ridiculously stupid and cruel. How are we as women suppose to get the programs when they can’t talk or heal their wounds because they have the constant reminder of a male figure in the programs with them?”

May 23, 2021

VICKY

Female Former Offender, England

“I was on the same wing as a TW who was in for a violent crime. A lot of the women were scared of him. He was quite rude and because of his prison job he kind of lorded it over the women. He was ‘untouchable ‘ in our eyes, as if you said anything to or about him you would get a warning or nicking. Many women lost canteen and/or association for stating the fact he was a man, and that they felt uncomfortable with it. Our cells all had showers which I’m grateful for as if they didn’t I know if have ended up down the block as I know the prison would have let the TW use the showers at the same time as us.

What really annoyed me was the fact officers bent over backwards to accommodate him. One woman was actually moved to a different cell so he could have his friend move in to that cell which was next door to his.

I was padded up with an East European woman who spoke limited English, she’d never been inside before and was put in with me as ‘I knew the rules etc” and could help her. She needed help with everything from canteen sheets to bail apps. The jail didn’t help at all but would do anything and everything to help the TW.

One day an officer overheard a conversation between me and her about men in prison (my padmate was scared and it was hard to explain especially to ease her anxiety as she was a trafficking victim). We got a warning there and then and a short while later our personal officer came to see us. We were called transphobic, bullies and the prison did not tolerate it! I said the prison was meant to be trauma informed but that this was BS as you aren’t putting women’s safety first, and the fact the jail knew I’m a victim of rape and violence at the hands of men, and my padmate was a victim of trafficking. My personal officer basically said it’s no excuse to bully another woman! There was no bullying it was a private conversation. I said I wanted to put a complaint in but was told if I did it would make my stay very uncomfortable. I was told this a couple of times during my sentence.”

ZOEY

Federal Prison, Canada

“I was recently released again and this is a common thing. It’s happening all the time in the women’s [prison] institutions across Canada. Like we don’t go in with enough ***ing trauma and issues from severe violence and exploitation. On top of the strip searches and every other way [the Correctional Service of Canada] violates your human rights, we are housed with men claiming to be trans when their real motive is something else. I could go on but I will end here. This [BS] needs to end. How the **** do we heal if we keep getting victimised?”