There are reportedly over 5,000 trans people currently incarcerated in the American justice system. Discussions about these individuals and where they should be held have been covered a lot in the media. The series Orange is the New Black famously featured a trans woman in an all woman’s prison and her struggles there. Many people feel like transwomen should still be placed with men because of their assigned gender at birth. This week new updates have emerged about Demi Minor, who was accused of getting two female inmates pregnant while incarcerated with them in a New Jersey facility. This story and others like it could cause a shift in the discussion around trans people in correctional facilities.
According to Prisonpolicy.org, it is hard to track the number of trans people in jail because very few publicly identify or take surveys out of fear of exposing themselves. Of the few that have been surveyed, the majority were people of color, lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), and relatively young. Many of them have a history of homelessness, foster care placements, arrest, and incarceration in juvenile facilities before the age of 18.
For a while, transwomen feared being incarcerated with men because of the history of misconduct in the prison system. However, putting them in female-based facilities has produced its own issues. Few are unaware that many trans women are still female attracted. This means that while grouped with biological women, there is still the potential for intimate interactions. Demi Minor is a 27-year-old trans inmate who was initially at the Eden Mahan Correctional Facilities. While there, Demi got two other inmates pregnant. Demi was originally put in solitary confinement for about three months, where she has been closely watched after attempting to end her own life.
Demi has created a website Justice 4 Demi where she allows followers to donate money, review official documents relating to her case, and a blog that she frequently updates. In one post, she said, “I am scared and alone. I have been on watch numerous times, I am losing weight, and truthfully, my mental health is a complete wreck.” She says that they’ve begun abusing her and violating her rights, forcing her to get searched by male officers.
Demi ha been moved to a male facility and says that she fears for her life.” I am approved for surgery, which has made my time in a male facility dangerous. So, I have been [put] on watch numerous times, I am losing weight, and truthfully, my mental health is a complete wreck.” She also said she was aggressively removed from the woman’s facility and is currently staying at Garden State Youth Correctional Facility for men.
Demi has been locked up since she was 16 in 2011 and came in male-identifying. Her gender identity has evolved in the years since. The woman involved with Demi both admit the interactions were consensual and have not been punished or put in solitary confinement. One woman reportedly ended her pregnancy. Demi detailed the night she was moved to the male facility on her blog, saying, “I cried throughout the night. Demi went on to describe how she felt it was better if she ended her life during the transport than endure the mistreatement at GSYCF.
Demi also claims that she has been restricted interaction with the woman who is still pregnant, Latonia. On her blog, she says, “This week I was advised that EMCF Administration has entered a ‘Keep Separate Order’ for me and Latonia, as such we are not to have contact.” While she admits the pregnancy was not planned, Demi wants to do what’s best for her, Latonia, and the child and concerned that she will be separated permanently from them. “Latonia and I are trying to be responsible adults and plan appropriately for this child. Yet Because I am a woman who is transgender, The Associate Administrator Ryan O’ Dea has ordered me to be shipped out of state and said that I am a threat to all the ‘cisgender’ women here.”