Trans and Gender Diverse Community Track
Background : Transgender individuals often deal with several negative life factors such as: family rejection, violence, victimization, institutional discrimination and running away or aging out of the foster care system and an increased risk of homelessness. Through providing trans advocacy and support groups in Men’s Central Jail and at our reentry center we empower the Transgender community and employ supporting policies to assist them in their everyday lives. Incarcerated transgender individuals are vulnerable to high levels of mental health and psychological distress. By providing a platform for trans-identified individuals to speak about their lived experiences and advocate for themselves, a feeling of community is created. Sessions are held in Men’s Central Jail on the K6G Unit, which segregates self-identified men who have sex with men and trans women from the Jail’s general population. K6G has an elevated prevalence of HIV; per recent data from the Jail’s Epidemiologist, the prevalence of HIV in K6G is nearly 30%; among trans women, the prevalence is near 50%.
Methods : Participants in the in-custody group routinely bring resources back to their dormitory to post on the “bulletin board” for other incarcerated trans women who were unable to attend. Sessions post-release are held at our Reentry Center co-facilitated by a formerly incarcerated trans woman and CHJ’s Trans Responsiveness Coordinator. Their lived experiences resonate with the group and help create a safe and supportive environment. The group’s structure is accommodating and adaptive to the unique and changing needs of the participants. A weekly newsletter connects the in-custody and post-release group, which supports group members who may struggle with recidivism. Additionally, Juvenile Hall sessions include trans responsive services including individual level counseling.
Results : Taking Back Our Power (TBOP) Program, a policy advocacy collective for trans identified adults impacted by incarceration, has addressed policies and procedures in locked settings, as well as local, state, and national laws that affect the lives of trans individuals. TBOP’s goal is to train formerly incarcerated trans individuals as community leaders and advocates through (1) building the capacity of the TBOP members (2) creating a sense of community among participants, and (3) launching an Advocacy and Liberation Training Module.
Conclusions : Given the incarcerated Transgender population and their lack of access to community and policy resources, it is crucial for organizations to give this population a voice. Additionally, in order to provide a smooth transition back into the community, this population should be aware of the resources in the community.