Warning: The following letter includes topics of sexual mistreatment or abuse. If you may be triggered by these topics, proceed with caution.
In her last letter, Lennea shared with us an incident of sexual harassment and her attempts at seeking basic protective measures, and the resulting injustice she received at the hands of the prison administration and officials. As is often the case with legislation and federal mandates designed to reduce violence and injustice against marginalized people, the oppressive institutions and perpetrators of this violence often find ways to delay or avoid compliance with these mandates (such as PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act passed in 2003). In this letter, Lennea writes about a recent experience and the lack of protection granted to her as evidence of PREA’s failure to stop the sexual harassment and abuse that many prisoners face daily.
“Transitioning the Hard Way: April 2014,”
by Lennea Elizabeth Stevens.
Hello again, it’s me, Lenna Elizabeth Stevens, saying hi and hoping everyone is doing good this April. March was a challenging month in some ways and uneventful in others, but anyway, here’s my update on the world of being a transgendered federal inmate.
As you know, or should know by now, most prisons have implemented PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, to protect us and all inmates from acts of sexual aggression by staff and other inmates. This is important, remember, it’s supposed to help protect you, but like all good things, there are negative side-effects. In my blog (Transitioning the Hard Way: March 2014) I spoke about the guy exposing himself to me and my trials and tribulations concerning that event. Well, this month is another example of the ignorance of staff and other side-effects of PREA.
My current cellmate is going back to court for a hearing (Good Luck ‘B’!!!) so I have to get a new cellmate. I spoke to my counselor and he said he was going to put the next person on the waiting list for a two-man cell in my cell with me and that’s just the way it is (This institution has 2 and 3 man cells, you get to move up as they become available). This was not going to work, me with 38B breast and him always wanting to see them. How could I ever go to sleep and not worry about him standing over me, yuck! I tried to explain to my counselor why it wouldn’t be good and he still said that was just the way it was. Uugh, so much for PREA. I finally went to my psychologist and got him to intervene, so hopefully I will get a cellmate that I don’t have to worry about.
They implement PREA then put predators or men that like transsexuals way too much in a two-man cell, over the objections of the gender patient. Then When the gender patient complains about inappropriate behavior, they put the gender patient in the SHU. The system here is being used lately to get us off the compound, but you know, it will not work. They can’t silence out voices because we are a voice of many, where my voice ends, another begins.
Transgender rights are just beginning within the federal system along with most state systems. I will stand fast, speak loud, and most of all, I will present myself and my sisters in the most positive and respectful way possible. For this way, we will receive the rights which we deserve and society will come to respect us for the people we are.
I love to get all correspondence, send to Lewis Stevens 16786-078, Federal Corrections Institute, P.O. Box 7007, Marianna, FL, 32447. I enjoy hearing from all my sisters and supporters and appreciate the pictures that everyone sends to me.
Thought for the month: In prison you have no high heels, so when you get on your soap box and plead your views, stack two of them to make up for the lack of heels.