FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DETROIT – Today an LGBTQ civil rights coalition is calling on the State of Michigan to formally investigate serious allegations involving the rape and further abuse of a transgender woman in a Michigan prison and require the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) to train its staff regarding transgender cultural competency and adherence to the law. Furthermore, MDOC should join other states that provide the option of housing transgender people who are incarcerated in correctional facilities that are in accordance with their gender identity.
Unfortunately, reports of incidents involving physical, sexual, and mental abuse of transgender people behind bars are not uncommon occurrences in prisons and jails. For years, transgender people, particularly women, have reported violence and sexual assault by others in their facility, including staff. Both MDOC and the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act mandate procedures and protocols that must be followed in order to provide for the safety of transgender people who are incarcerated.
The LGBTQ civil rights coalition includes: the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center, Equality Michigan, Michigan Democratic LGBT & Allies Caucus, OutCenter of Southwest Michigan, OutFront Kalamazoo, Ruth Ellis Center, Rev. Lindsey Anderson, Love Rising Lutheran Church in Detroit, Matthew Bode, faith leader in Detroit, Stand with Trans, and Trans Sistas of Color Project, and has this reaction:
“The allegations in this lawsuit are unconscionable and sadly preventable. However, neglect and poor training in Michigan jails and prisons continues to put trans people who are incarcerated at risk of repeated abuse and devastating consequences. Not only is additional training needed, but anyone who was complicit in incidents of sexual assault must be held accountable. The state must immediately investigate this incident and others, implement training of MDOC staff, and commit to enacting MDOC policies that allow transgender people to be housed in correctional facilities that are in accordance with their gender identity.”