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Prison problems: gender-issues behind bars

A transgender woman.
A transgender woman.
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As the philosophy of sex identity progresses and continues to gain traction with the world, the two gender system that we’ve lived by has become increasingly a topic of debate. However, with society becoming more tolerant, in part due to the constantly shifting definitions of masculine and feminine, the LGBT community has been able to open many doors for people living an alternative lifestyle. But not all doors open. Prisoners, a segment of the population locked away into traditionally bi-gendered complexes, are currently being exposed to an upswing in transgender politics. In the late 1990s a court verdict was reached that would provide transgender prisoners with continued hormone treatments, and the issue has been expanded into the question of a prisoner’s right to receive state funded sex-reassignment therapy, including surgery. Should the state pay for an elective operation? And what other types of issues do transgendered prisoners face?


Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), one of the nation's leading advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people

Valerie Jenness, dean of the School of Social Ecology, professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine