Getting hormone treatment in Washington State is currently available. If an inmate identifies as trans she or he can navigate the channels set forth and receive hormone treatment while incarcerated. However, let me set a scenario for you:

A trans woman, we will call her Amanda, comes to prison after only taking t-blockers. She begins getting her full cocktail (a slang term referring to the plethora of hormones taken) and slowly develops her external features including breasts.

She does this for nearly two years, then releases. Upon release, she does not have the skill set she needs to gain the employment needed to pay for her continued treatment. So she settles for t-blockers again.

At this point Amanda is considering coming back to prison or turning tricks to continue her treatment just so she can feel normal again.

This is an actual person I know who released from prison. I love the girl like a sister, but she’s been hustling her entire life. In fact, when someone is nearly entirely ostracized their entire life and when someone does approve its for perverted reasons, you learn to use your body as an asset. This also creates hardships around social interactions that are hard to describe sensitively.

With these types of challenges make getting a job to pay for hormone therapy to affirm ones own gender to feel psychologically complete (as complete as physical attributes can make one feel) is a real uphill battle. Then you mix in being a felon, being trans, and having no real work experience…what is she supposed to do?

This is my point: people come to DOC because they are in need, sometimes broken. DOC ends up footing the bill for rehabilitation, which is their role in society (one in which they are FAILING at, otherwise they would have worked themselves out of a job a long, long time ago), and when someone like Amanda begins to feel complete, have hope, she is not given the skills needed to compete in society. Mainly, because DOC is to concerned with making sure we are punished instead of rehabilitated.

Rehabilitation needs to be taken seriously, every time DOC fails, the public pays the price. They can stop failing by taking rehabilitation seriously. That’s hard to do when they are still using mentalities and tactics derived from the slave trade used to ensure we feel helpless.

With Love
Jeff (Ruthie) Utnage