Politics

Why This Fund Is Raising Money For Trans And Gender Diverse People In Incarceration

"The types of structural oppression and violence that trans and gender diverse people face in the community is only amplified within violent intuitions like prisons."

trans incarceration

A new GoFundMe created only a few days ago has managed to raise over $25,000 for trans and gender diverse people who have been imprisoned. The organisers have raised the goals to $30,000, which they hope to achieve by the end of the week.

The plight of trans people in prison, and the issues they face both when incarcerated and post-release, doesn’t get a lot of attention in the news. Stories such as this ABC investigation into Mara Ellis’s incarceration in WA does important work in opening the public eye to the complicated issues at play — and why trans and gender diverse people in prisons both deserve and need our support.

The fund aims to raise money to provide financial and material support to trans and gender diverse people who are incarcerated, and provide support for trans people in prison and post-release.

“The types of structural oppression and violence that trans and gender diverse people face in the community is only amplified within violent intuitions like prisons,” said one of the fund’s organisers, social worker and advocate Witt Gorrie, to Junkee.

“Like in the community, trans people who bear the brunt of this violence and who are criminalised are overwhelmingly trans women, in particular Aboriginal trans women, Sistergirls and trans women of colour. When incarcerated the vast majority of trans women are placed in men’s prisons where the threat of physical, psychological and sexual violence is a daily reality.”

Witt explains that trans and gender diverse people, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, experience structural discrimination and violence that directly impacts upon access to legal support, stable housing, employment, income, health care, and wellbeing.

“Additionally, many trans people don’t have family support due to transphobia and were already impacted by poverty and homelessness prior to coming into prison. This means that unless you have a community based support or are able to work inside (the average full-time income per week is around $30 to $40), there is no way someone is able to buy basic items like toiletries or have items sent in like gender affirming underwear. It is also common for trans people to be placed in protection cells or solitary confinement, either due to a threat of violence, as punishment or forced there without consent by Corrections under the guise of “safety”, where they are unable to engage in work to earn any income.”

Outside of prison, things don’t get any easier either.

“When returning to the community, it is often extremely difficult for anyone with a criminal record to obtain employment, with many workforces requiring mandatory police checks. Trans and gender diverse people without a criminal record are already often shut out of the workforce due to transphobia. For trans and gender diverse people who have been criminalised these issues are compounding and pose a high risk of returning to or facing immediate poverty.

This fund will support people while they are inside and when returning to their communities to reestablish their lives. Funds such as this can directly reduce the risk of further criminalisation and literally keep people alive.”

You can donate directly to the GoFundMe here.

The fund will provide direct financial and material aid in a range of areas depending on individual circumstances and needs, such as:

  • Safe emergency accommodation, hotels or rent/bond to assist people to successfully obtain bail, parole or who have a set release date
  • Groceries and food vouchers
  • Transport costs
  • Phone credit, postage for those inside to stay connected to the outside
  • Aid to purchase essential items such as toiletries inside
  • Access to gender affirming health care and mental health services in the community
  • Medical expenses not covered by the State (people in prison cannot access medicare)
  • Hormones and medication prescriptions
  • Gender affirming clothing, underwear, bras and binders for people inside and post-release
  • Legal fees
  • Bills and fines
  • Identification and administration fees
  • Books, magazines and resources