The price you pay as a trans woman in prison

By Miley Fletcher

Miley Fletcher is a trans woman incarcerated at S.C.I. Forest in Pennsylvania, where 214 transgender prisoners are incarcerated according to their sex assigned at birth.

When a lot of us who are incarcerated receive a fictional or false misconduct accusation, you have to look at the circumstances surrounding you. I am a trans woman. I worked in the culinary department (kitchen), where, being who I am, a lot of kitchen staff did not want me there.

However, some inmates and a few kitchen staff did not mind. I am the only trans woman in this institution to work outside my block or unit. I was praised by some kitchen staff for how well I worked. Then one day, after months had passed, several kitchen staff patted me down, but not around my breast areas. 

A few months later, a male kitchen staff member and his girlfriend, a staff member who I’d stayed away from because I could sense her hatred, transphobia and bigotry, grabbed my breasts, patted down my sides and then one leg at a time in a rough manner, throwing hands up my legs like a torpedo. 

I told her that I had asked for a transgender pat down. She replied: “You’re in a male institution. F**k your tranny pat down. I pat you down the way I want to.” I told the kitchen supervisor about what happened, and later that day the woman apologized. But the guy was pissed about my complaint about his girlfriend.

art by Micah Bazant

About two weeks later, mid-July, when I was working in the kitchen, count was called to go to the dining hall. We stood in line, took count and went back to our stations. A few hours later I was handcuffed and taken to medical. When I asked what was going on, they asked if I was assaulted or attacked, to which I replied no.

I was then placed in the Restricted Housing Unit (the hole) on a misconduct charge for “engaging in a sexual act” reported by the male kitchen staff member, who claimed that another inmate was feeling my buttocks and that I was grabbing his genitals. I requested a video review, which was not given. Both I and the other inmate pleaded not guilty at the hearing.

Five other kitchen staff were present, but none filed a complaint. This was retaliation against me, because I had complained about his girlfriend’s mistreatment of me. But I still received 30 days in the RHU, and I was removed from the Special Needs Unit (SNU), where I’ve been housed for two years and felt safe.

This is the price I pay for who I am. These are the circumstances which are placed on incarcerated people everywhere. A lot of people do not want transgender people to succeed or progress, 

But do not give up; do not let those around you pull you down. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Be true to yourself.

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