After we heard about Vanessa’s situation, one of our collective members visited her this past weekend to check on her and assure her that she has support on the outside. With great relief, we want to let everyone know that Vanessa is off her hunger strike. Though we fully support any act of resistance, we were very concerned for her health and safety – especially being aware of the hostility she has faced from certain guards.
We learned that at the beginning of her strike, prison officials were mocking her situation and at one point encouraging self castration. As Vanessa held her ground and days went on, the guard who made that remark came to her cell and apologized. We can’t even qualify this as a small victory, because we know that her captors are only interested in self preservation. Finally, after more than a week went by, prison officials began to take Vanessa aside and assured her that steps were actively being taken to make sure she gets a bra (only 1 of her 3 requests). This is encouraging news, but equally as alarming that such a simple request was only granted after Vanessa put her life on the line. “It’s the only way anything gets done around here. I lost 18 pounds and I started to become very weak” she said during the visit.
She continues to be grateful for the phone calls, emails and faxes being made on her behalf to officials who are in decision making positions. It is extremely effective at putting them on alert that there are folks who care about Vanessa and all incarcerated trans people, therefore their abuses will not go untold or unnoticed. We will keep everyone posted about when Vanessa is able to receive the bra she has been requesting since her breast development, and whatever other small advances are made as a result of her self advocacy, as well as the advocacy of us as free world allies.
The unit in which Vanessa is help captive by the state