I read something from Reuters over the weekend that shouldn’t have surprised me. But I found it upsetting.
The Trump administration has rolled back protections for transgender prison inmates introduced under former President Barack Obama after some prisoners challenged the policies in court. An inmate’s “biological sex” will now be used to make the initial decision as to where transgender prisoners are housed, instead of the gender to which they identify, according to a change in guidelines announced on Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The word “transgender” gained popularity in the 1990s as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and expression did not necessarily match the gender they were assigned at birth, according to Susan Stryker, an associate professor of gender studies at the University of Arizona.
I’m not going to use a blog to examine this complex issue. What I want to address is this matter of treating all people with respect. Our staff has positioned itself at the side of several transgender inmates in the Michigan prison system, and I want to tell you that for those people, it’s a rough road! We’re here for them, and that’s where we’ll stay.
It may be the real “he-man” thing to do to ban transgender personnel from our military, and to roll back advances made by the U.S. Bureau of prisons. It may appeal to certain political factions, but it’s dumb. Not only that, it’s inhumane, and it’s setting a terrible example that must not be followed.
I read an overly-simplified explanation the other day, showing a can of sliced carrots, but the outside label showed green beans. The writer pointed out that this incorrect information had nothing to do with the quality of the contents. The beans weren’t rotten or spoiled. They just didn’t match the product on the label.
So if we take our mission seriously at HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, we’d have to say that the prisoner who stutters, who is autistic, who is gay, who worships Buddha, who can speak only Vietnamese, or who struggles with gender issues…these inmates are all created in the image of God, and they all deserve equal and fair treatment.
I’ll tell you what we’re doing in the HFP office. We’re working on developing a list of resources for transgender inmates…resources that can perhaps help them while in prison, and for sure help them as they prepare for reentry into society. It’s no less or no more than we’re trying to do for all prisoners facing all kinds of problems, and don’t know where to turn.
It’s our job.
Our name says it all.