With lock-downs and severely increased censorship in the past few weeks, TDCJ has slowed down mail, and in some cases, denied mail in an attempt to stifle communication. In a bold act of solidarity with striking workers, we were just made aware that Vanessa went on hunger strike on 9/22 to protest the abusive treatment she receives for being a trans woman. For instance, Vanessa has been on hormone therapy for over a year, and her breasts have grown to the point that she needs a bra. She is often required to be strip searched, or shirtless in front of male guards and inmates, putting her at a greater risk of being sexually targeted, degraded, and humiliated. She is requesting a bra for modesty and to support her growing breasts, yet prison staff mock her concerns, and Dr. Greene continues to enforce his own policies arbitrarily.
One guard said “it’s good they denied your lawsuit, because you don’t need it!” When Vanessa protested this insensitive, uninformed comment, he replied “Next time I work, I’ll slip you a razor” (encouraging self-castration.) According to Vanessa, “this is the kind of stuff transgender inmates have to go through”
Vanessa needs our help. She has 3 asks for TDCJ, as follows:
“My goal is
1. To get TDCJ to allow gender specialists to determine if a trans prisoner needs a bra
2. To allow me and other transgender prisoners to purchase female hygiene products
3. To change the current policy to include the real life experience”
The simple ability to purchase gender affirming items is incredibly beneficial to the mental health and emotional well-being of incarcerated trans people. When Vanessa says the “real life experience”, she is simply referring to the ability to purchase these items, grow her hair long, have guards and prison officials call her by the correct name and gender pronouns, and the ability to express her true gender identity.
PLEASE direct your concerns to TDCJ. Can we get 20 people to call and email? 30? 50? The more outside support Vanessa gets, the more pressure we collectively put on TDCJ to evaluate their lack of health care for trans inmates, and how their guidelines and policies need to reflect the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) which states “Health professionals can assist gender dysphoric individuals with affirming their gender identity,exploring different options for expression of that identity, and making decisions about medical treatment options for alleviating gender dysphoria.”
TDCJ Patient Liaison Program
Health Services Division
P.O. Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77340
TDCJ Patient Liaison Office at (936) 437-4271
[no email address available]
P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099
(Paraphrasing and putting this in your own words is highly encouraged. You may also use the text below in an email.)
“Hi, my name is ____, I am calling to make a complaint about unfair treatment of an inmate at your facility.
*Wait for a response, they might redirect your call*
I am calling in regards to Scott Gibson, better known by Vanessa. Her TDCJ # is 699888, and she is housed at the Alfred Hughes Unit. Despite the fact that Vanessa is a woman, she has repeatedly been denied a bra and other gender affirming items. She is also misgendered by prison staff, including the medical unit, and I fear that there is no regard for her well-being.
I am further concerned because TDCJ lacks healthcare policies to address the very specific needs that transgender people have. The hostile living conditions, and lack of healthcare policies at Alfred Hughes Unit do not create the safety needed for Vanessa or other trans inmates. I demand that Vanessa, and other trans inmates have access to gender affirming items, and for TDCJ to begin adapt policies that align with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Lastly, I demand that Vanessa be treated with basic dignity and respect, for her to be referred to as Vanessa and gendered appropriately by all staff at the Alfred Hughes Unit.
Alfred Hughes Unit
You may also call the unit where Vanessa is housed to ask them “I am calling on behalf of Vanessa, TDCJ #699888. As of September 22, Vanessa has been on hunger strike to demand her basic dignity and the ability to express her true gender identity. What steps are you taking to ensure her needs are met?”