Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) has been progressive on the recognition of Transgendered and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) folks within its care, particularly within the last 24 months. Providing hormone treatment, mental health counseling, limited access to gender affirming products, and new protocols aimed at satisfying watchful human rights eyes.

The bigotry of WADOC (and all DOC’s across the US and beyond) has not gone anywhere. In fact, it has ramped up and like a pretty painting, it rests within a cute little frame called Trans. So long as WADOC has the label “trans” to use it never has to recognize trans-folk as a their genders, only trans. This has serious rehabilitation-limiting effects that should be of the utmost concern to the average, forward-thinking citizen.

Women in women’s prisons have their assigned clothing that differs from men’s clothing in men’s prisons. Simple things like ankle socks and undergarments. Trans women get limited access to their genders’ products. Like ankle socks, hair products (or hair cuts at all), and basic make-up all of which is standard in a women’s prison.

Other things are done to ensure that trans-folk stay as a marginalized and unrecognized third-gender. Like when a female officer enters a tier in a men’s prison she must announce “Female on tier.” This is so that men are aware that they are to…act more appropriately, one can only assume. However, this suggests, or simply states, that a woman is not already on that tier. A simple remedy exists, “Female staff on tier.”

Seemingly small and innocuous policies, a FEW of which are stated above, are not harmless at all. One may be trans in prison, get hormones, grow ones hair or cut it, and wear SOME clothing of the affirmed gender…but in WADOC’s eyes trans folk will not be recognized as that gender, only trans. This is called bigotry. You can be a trans woman but you’re not a woman because a real woman just entered the tier. You can be trans but you’re not a woman because real women can wear make-up and are issued ankle socks and can get their hair cut and use blow dryers.

Thus it produces feelings inside one that are inappropriate to spill out in a writ such as this but are valid and certainly felt. Rehabilitation is the key function of WADOC and if it is not then why has the state built “correction” centers with Superintendents instead of Wardens? What are taxpayers paying for? Is it simply to separate?

Rehabilitation is not this enigmatic science that has yet to be proven, it is more than possible when the environment allows. When someone feels threatened the brain has an autonomous function, “fight or flight” as it is most commonly referred to, that interrupts cognitive functioning and engages more primitive responses. In short, if one is feeling threatened all they can think about is being safe, not what led them into that position in the first place. Threats come in many forms.

For instance, walk into your employer and imagine for one day that your gender was only allowed there because the employer was forced, not because you were wanted. Sounds easy to do for eight hours, but try never being able to leave and see how long that stress is manageable while still being an effective employee.

Yet, here I am. Still able to demand and produce legitimate and healthy rehabilitation within myself. I do this not because of WADOC, but in spite of WADOC. I want to be a healthy, contributing, and rehabilitated member of society so I won’t ALLOW myself to not leave this place a changed human being, I already am. But it sure would be nice if I was at least recognized and treated as a human being and not an “other” in the process.

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With Love
Jeff aka Ruth Utnage

email me at Jpay.com using Jeff Utnage # 823469

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Jeff Utnage # 823469
PO Box 888
Monroe WA  98272