Currently, most California State Prisons do not have any policy regarding transgender inmates. I know you are shocked. In a climate where sexual violence is a norm, one would think that highly vulnerable populations would receive special treatment, but clearly this is not the case.
So I suppose this story is not shocking, but upsetting nonetheless. Alexis Giraldo, a formerly incarcerated trans woman at Folsom State Prision, lost her case against several prison employees (nurses, guards and social workers) when her charges of rape were dropped. Her lawyer said it was a “clear indication of rape” and that she had asked many different people for help, but no one came to her aid.
However, the San Francisco court ruled in favor of the prison staff.
Deputy Attorney General Jose Zelidon-Zepeda said there was no evidence of violence in Giraldo’s communications with guards, counselors and nurses.
He pointed out that Giraldo had also engaged in consensual sex with her cellmate, argued that many of her assertions were contradicted by evidence, and attacked her credibility, saying her lawsuit was driven by greed.
The power differential between inmates fighting against injustices done to them within the system is already so great it tragically distorts the outcomes. Who are the courts going to support? It will cost them so much money to audit a prison or fire people and it will make the state look very very bad. It is so much easier to just let them go.
Now if they are not guilty of the crime at hand, I suppose I could have more empathy. But if one of the rationales for ruling in favor of the prisons was that she had already HAD consensual sex, well pardon me if I am not that impressed. You can have consensual sex and be raped by the SAME person. Just because you had sex with someone before, it does not mean you owe it to them again. If you are forcibly raped against your will, you deserve the protection of the law, irrelevant of past encounters. Men rape their wives. That actually happens and it is rape, and it doesn’t matter whether they had consensual sex in the past. Furthermore, if you are locked in a cell, it is not like you can runaway.
Seven jurors voted to hold the seventh employee, Sgt. Darrel Ayers, responsible for inflicting emotional distress on Giraldo. But in civil trials, nine votes are needed for the plaintiff to win damages. Walston – who said he is considering whether to retry the case – had argued that Ayers failed to act after being told of Giraldo’s complaints.
Giraldo asked Judge Chaiton to demand the establishment of laws that protect the rights of transgender inmates, but her pleas dropped as Giraldo is no longer within the prison system. Again, currently California State Prisons have NO POLICY to protect the rights of transgender inmates.