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Ignoring Medical Emergency (Gender Affirming Care)

Just a few months ago I completed my first gender affirming surgery. I can not verbalize the happiness I felt for finally being able to take permanent steps in the right direction that conforms to who I am. Yet, my happiness was short lived when my administration In March attempted to place me in protective custody simply cause its not safe for me as a female inmate who has just undergone surgery to be in this male prison. I have explained to my administration and others, Central Offices does not care about me! They see my transition as some joke or game, there are times when I just want to black out, what keeps me pushing is this nope that one day someone will hear my voice.

I am done caring, done begging these people for safety and equality, they are intolerant and indifferent towards who I am and what it means to be transgender, thus whats the point of my institutions PREA manager referring me for a Safety hearing when the Director is also intolerant or when the PREA unit regularly ignores request from me.

They have medical staff referring to me as “he-she” and telling me that regardless of what I do I am still a man. Some days I struggle to find peace in all of this, I just keep my head down, and accept that none of these staff here care, they all are trying to stand behind policy that ignores the needs of transgender women, a policy that fails to ensure safety for LGBTQI inmates.

New Jersey Department of Corrections has been ignoring women who are transgender and requesting gender affirming surgery. This surgery is covered by medicare and is often apart of the treatment for patients who are diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria. The reality is that noone cares, everyone is sitting back telling us to wait but we have waited years for this treatment to become available. Thus for NJDOC to withhold these surgeries from us is truly devastating and seen as a form of torture.

You can’t diagnose someone with a life threatening condition and fail to provide them with gender affirming surgery that is medically necessary. The Department continues to say they are trying to design a program or locate a contract. But such answer ignores the inmates who have been waiting years for a surgery that is available in New Jersey. Speaking up about this is a very hard thing for me, because I really fee like this subject must be address before another inmate castrates themselves or before another inmate kill themselves. This subject must be addressed as the standards of care explains how transgender people are placed at risk when third needs are ignored.

NJDOC has begun offering breast augmentation to transgender women, but the reality is that some transgender women don’t want top surgery, and others don’t see top surgery as fully curing their dysphoria, so they remain asking for the one surgery that will help them conform to the gender that they declare they are. The DOC has basically told inmates that only those who mutilate themselves I.e. cut their genitals will be given attention or even speak with a surgeon. Those who have been making this request through grievances and medical request slips are ignored. Some of us have been waiting 2,000 days just to see a surgeon. DOC is harming the LGBTQ community and its blatant

I understand that everything is about patients but in 2019 a Caucasian transgender woman mutilated their selves and they were provided with vaginoplasty (gender affirming surgery). The department than stated that they were go into developed a program. The reality is that no program to stop this self harm was ever created. Here we are nearly five years later and the same issues still exist and are effecting the population. Their is not a lack of surgeons, instead DOC refuses to initiate a emergency plan that would immediately have all inmates evaluated for bottom surgery.

The inmates who have made such request are being ignored, they have spent years waiting on something that throughout this country has been under attack. This year alone nearly 500 bills across the country have been introduced to restrict and limit the rights of LGBTQI people. The mental health of the transgender population is often ignored simply because the department lacks training and understanding towards how deadly gender dysphoria is, this they don’t understand that many of us often worry our rights will be impinged upon especially when requesting surgery and other transitional request.

No one wants to fight for their existence yet that is a daily reality. A daily reality that every transgender within New Jersey prisons is force to deal with. It may be something small like asking to be called by the proper pronouns or something more complex like requesting brassieres and underwear. These request are often ignored and come with much ridicule from officers, the DOC has made changes to policy that undoubtedly has caused racial disparities regarding trans women being removed from the states only female prison; these changes has led to nearly 8 African American women being sent back to male prisons and nearly dozens being denied. With these changes, it would be even more appropriate to provide gender affirming surgery, but instead the department has only create road blocks.

I beg, I cry and I hurt, simply because those who are suppose to protect me, are actually abusing me. No one deserves this.

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