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Edna Mahan Correctional Facility Discriminating Against Transgender Inmates

Dear Advocates,

I hope this emails finds you well, I am writing with regards to the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, continued practices of treating transgender women confined to EMCF’s Max compound, as predators. Sadly administration sees our gender identity as a reason to deny us equal housing and to confine us to a unit that has become more restrictive and transphobic than others. I have no choice but to speak up and say something. Apparently the cisgendee women that sexually abuse other women and are engaged in relationships are given impunity.

Custody has masked their transphobic behavior with official unit transfers to cisgender inmates and “Selective Rule Enforcement”. Each week their has been new rules added to North Hall designed to create harsh punitive conditions for us. Among the ridiculous unwritten rules; inmates have been told that they can no longer eat food they make together in the dayroom and must now eat in their cells, inmates are also being told they can’t do hair in the multipurpose room. Than inmates were advised that they will only be able shower once a day. Keep in mind North hall was designed in 1969 and does not have air condition; Hence, in the summer months this building reaches temperatures that exceed 98 degrees. These recent changes have solely been targeted towards North Hall which has become the designated transgender unit. Officers who work this unit have often been more aggressive and intimidating solely because everyone believes their are men housed on this unit. Our administration segregated us not because we pose actual security risk, or because we have asked to be segregated, but solely because of the fact that we are Transgender. The PREA coordinator (Superintendent Keller) is supportive of this decision to treat us like we are predatorial, by way or her actions. Very little does our voice matter to her and instead its custody who she sides with, As a victim of harassment from custody how can I feel heard if my abuser is allowed to participate in my meetings? Any PREA complaints we write are all to often forwarded by administration right to custody thus causing retaliation.

The women who are found guilty of fights, sexual contact, threatening each other, or who have been written up by correctional staff for engaging in sexual contact with each other, are permitted housing anywhere in Edna Mahan correctional facility, their behavior is not seen as a reason to confine them to single cell housing. Their prohibited behavior does not subject them to the treatment that transgender women receive simply for being transgender. Bad behavior at EMCF is rewarded and the classification committee only fuels this by refusing to treat transgender females the same as other females.

New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, prohibits Edna Mahan Correctional staff from denying transgender women housing in the drug program or Stowe unit solely because of their gender identity. This illegal practice fuels discrimination and opens NJDOC and EMCF staff up to legal liability for discriminating against transgender female inmates. I will never forget being told by a Correctional Sergeant, that because I was transgender I was deemed a security risk and that the facility needed to protect other cisgender female inmates from me. I did not want to believe the blatant discrimination. I am witnessing as Administration has added officers to all the units where transgender inmates are housed, and have even created policies that restrict the movement of transgender inmates; even certain units that use to be restricted to female staff only are adding Male officers. Its not because there have been an actual increase in violence by transgender women or because their have been factual substantiated allegations against the transgender community. Instead its the disgusting & ignorant theory that transgender females are men and pose a unique security issue.

What’s concerning is the mere fact that, the cisgender inmates who do assault each other, have sex with each other and even assault staff are not treated as bad as we are; its this exact difference in treatment that makes me feel less than who I truly am. These concerns are not speculation, as their have been professional reports written about these incidents and very little actions have been taken, instead. Its the transgenders housed in North Hall that are treated as if we are security risk solely because of our gender identity, denied the opportunity for equal housing solely because of this disgusting, ignorant and transphobic theory that we will present security issues if housed in Stowe or Hillcrest Drug program.

I am disgusted by what I am seeing, and I am tired of being talked down to or treated as if I have done something wrong, the fact that bad behavior is rewarded here really concerns me, and as I fight for equality, I can’t help but to wake up each day and feel as if I am less than other women here. I pray that Ms. Keller stop treating us like we are predators. I pray that she gives us a bearing that will seriously consider our views of safety

Can someone please hear me out? I have even agreed that I can be single celled in Stowe by leaving the other bed vacant or allowing me to have another Trans women as a cell mate, but yet administration thinks inappropriate and denies me housing to Stowe or Hillcrest. Confining me to a unit where we are having issues and being harassed is wrong. I am a women and if I was anything less than I would not be here, hence my treatment should be equal.


Demi Minor

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