incarceration nation

Should MTF Inmates Be Housed With the General Female Population?

Think trans activist Autumn Sandeen’s “shim” prison episode is an isolated incident? Rochelle A. Mead, a MTF Michigan woman jailed for six days on charges of driving with an expired license, and who is also a registered sex offender stemming from a 1995 incident where she exposed herself to a minor, says she too suffered indecencies while behind bars. And the ACLU would like some answers please.

Mead says “she was insulted by jail workers, denied medication and not permitted to leave the holding cell where she was kept,” according to the Flint Journal. She was housed separately from other inmates, not with other incarcerated ladies as she requested — and that’s where the ACLU is most concerned.

[ACLU Michicgan’s LGBT Project attorney Jay] Kaplan said he wants to talk to Pickell about the jail’s policies on transgender inmates, incuding where they are housed, their access to medication and how they are “treated by jail staff concerning gender pronouns and their ability to express themselves in accordance with their gender identity.”

Mead said her problems in the county jail started almost immediately after she was booked on July 14. She was not given female hormones, she and [Sheriff Robert Pickell] agree, although Kaplan said they were brought to the jail and she had a prescription for them. The sheriff said Mead wasn’t in jail long enough for him to make arrangements for her to receive hormone therapy.

Mead said she also did not receive seizure medications until she experienced a seizure in the holding cell. After the seizure, she claimed, a lieutenant told her, “You’re a (expletive) man and you always will be. You’re not going nowhere.” Pickell disputed Mead’s claim about that and other allegations but agreed he keeps transgender inmates separate from others.

And why didn’t Pickell let Mead live with other female inmates? Because Mead, who identifies as female and is listed as such on her driver’s license, hasn’t change what lives below the waste. Says Pickell: “What other woman wants to go into the shower with a person” [in the process of changing her gender]?”

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  • Qjersey

    See the film “Cruel and Unusual” about trans women in prison for real dose of what goes on…and how some of them react to the treatment. One even cut off her penis herself in the attempt to get put in the women’s prison.

  • gina

    Leave it to Queerty to make what’s a serious human rights issue into a stupid excuse for snarky comments.

    For a more appropriate view of this subject, see:

    Many trans women prisoners are housed in solitary confinement, often for years. Others are basically thrown into the male prison population in a form of forced prostitution. There are perfectly good ways they could accommodate issues like using showers, it’s not that difficult.

  • Chris

    I would be highly interested to hear others’ opinions on this subject.

    I agree that her treatment verbally and in regards to medication was inadequate and transphobic. I think letting transmen and transwomen live with other prisoners of their gender identity is appropriate, and for those who haven’t had sex reassignment surgery, to offer a separate private shower.

    I don’t see any other situations where genitalia would make situations awkward other than using the bathroom/shower.

    What do others feel is an appropriate remedy to a situation like this?

  • Noah

    I don’t understand what this story has to do with
    gay people. This is a story about a criminal, a heterosexual
    sex offender who exposed himself to a child. Now he
    complains about his accommodations in jail and expects
    the jail to conform itself to his demands. It seems to me
    that he should be doing his time with some humility, while
    thinking about what landed him in prison.

    Prisons are responsible for the safety of all of the inmates. If Mead were housed with the female inmates and if anything were to go wrong, such as unwelcome sexual conduct or sexual harassment,the prison could be liable. I think they did the right thing. But whatever one thinks about this strange story, it has nothing to do with the lives of gay people or the gay readers of Queerty. Stop trying to pretend that transexuals have the same identity as gay people. They don’t.

  • Phil

    @Noah: True, but it’s LGBT for a reason and I think it’s reprehensibly rude how you addressed her, not as her identified gender but by her biological sex.

  • sarid

    @Noah: hi! yeah, i’m a gay trans reader of queerty, and this article has quite a bit to do with my life. so fuck off.

  • Syl

    @sarid: Seconding this. Noah, try talking out of your other orifices.

    The bit about the lieutenant saying “You’re a [expletive] man and always will be!” brought my blood to a boil. Nazi bastards.

  • Noah

    @Phil: I am still waiting to hear that reason. As far
    as I can tell, the only reason is because some people say
    it must be so. As far as rudeness, if trans people want
    their identity respected, the first step they should take is
    to stop hijacking the identity of gay people. Telling
    gay people that they are in the same conceptual category
    as transsexuals, cross-dressers, and hermaphrodites is
    deceitful and morally wrong. It is also very rude.


    This story may have some relevance to you as a
    transsexual, although I hope that you are not going
    to prison like Mead. However, it has nothing to do
    with you as a gay person, any more than it has anything
    to do with me as a gay person. This story is a perfect
    example of how gay issues are in a different world than
    the fairly strange set of “trans” issues.

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    @Gina While I don’t think it’s right for Pre-op Transsexuals to be keep in Solitary confinement, I also do think they should be in general population with Genetic women. I can tell you it’s not just about arranging shower time the women don’t want them in there and it causes more trouble for the deputies with fighting.

    @Noah To begin being GAY isn’t an Identity it’s an Orientation, second There’s a difference between someones who’s transgender and someone who’s Transsexual. I know the transgender is the term most used but the correct term for someone with a diagnosis of GID (Gender Identity Dysphoria) is Transsexual. Also Queerty isn’t just for GAY issues.

    I think that there should be a separate pod for those who’s genitals don’t match their Identity. That said it would mean if a Transsexual has completed GRS then her genitals aren’t mismatched with her Identity therefore she should be put in general population with the other women.

  • Mykell

    @Noah This is queerty, not gayty. This blog is about everything queer people face, not just what gay people face. Do you also hate on articles about bisexual people since we’re not gay either?

  • sarid

    @Noah: these issues may seem separate in your mind, and in a lot of ways they are. but gay and trans people have a lot in common, and the biggest thing we have in common is how we’re perceived by straight, cisgender people. to the majority of people, we’re all just queers.

    i know it’s hard to warm up to a story about someone who is a criminal, but we’ve really got to pay attention to how the least of us are treated by the authorities, cause someday it could be us in there.

  • claudia

    @noah – what are you talking about regarding “hijacking gay identity”? i think we have all been lumped together by the rest of society for the most part.

    also, speaking of morally wrong – your hatefulness is morally wrong.

    as a gay person (i assume you are gay as you are on this website) haven’t you learned how hurtful it is to be exclude and degraded just because you are different from a large portion of the population? how can you talk so hatefully about trans people. epic fail.

  • Terry E

    Dear Noah, Go scruw yourself! That’s the first time I’ve ever stooped so low as to tell anyone to do that. It’s because of your phrase “Hijacked Identity”. I don’t know a single TS, that would want to indentify with Gays. We spend much distancing ourselves from Gays. Generally, with exceptions, we don’t like Gays and we know the feeling is mutual. You may think TSes are clamboriung to get aboard the Gay train wreck, but your’e one of the few who do. Not a Train wreck? What happened to all your gay marriage proposals? What’s happening with DOMA? We don’t pretend to be helping a group and trade their rights away, and lose their support. It’s effete intellectual snobs like you that split groups. People who build themselves up by demeaning others with a “who needs you?” attitude. Evry “right” that Transgendered people have, came from other TGed people who had the guts to take on someone who was denying that right. People Like Virginia Prince, and Phyliss R. Frye and lets not forget Sylvia Rivera, who threw the first beer bottle in what would become “Hijacked” as a great Gay turning point, The Stonewall riot! And the hundreds of thousands over the years that we never hear of, who’v suffered beatings and torture at someone’s hands.
    I challlenge you to attend this years TDOR (Trans.Day of rememberance) ceremonies and then come back and tell us how we “Hijacked” you!
    Regards, Terry

  • FoolMe1


    “the first step they should take is to stop hijacking the identity of gay people”

    – Hold on there buckaroo! You have that backwards. It was your team that gutted an effective trans movement that started in the 50’s and oddly ended around the time of the Stonewall Riots.

    It was YOUR academics that used trans lives to build the myth that “gay men were respected spiritual leaders of their communities” or to prop up “gay people are everywhere in all times and places”.

    It has been YOUR movement that used trans women in the earliest activist groups only to turn around and disavow them.

    As far as your first comment:

    “It seems to me
    that he should be doing his time with some humility, while
    thinking about what landed him in prison.”

    From the story:

    “Rochelle A. Mead, a MTF Michigan woman jailed for six days on charges of driving with an expired license…”

    Your implication that her registration for a sex offense has anything to do with her current stint in jail fails at even remedial reading levels.

  • Fwip

    Oh goodness, calm down! Maybe the gay community and the trans community have different issues, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together!

    Noah, being gay is definitely different than being trans. But for a long time, the outside world made no difference, and still some people conflate the two.

    Terry, what’s with all the hate? Using “Gays” like a derogatory term. You’re not “a transgender,” you’re a transgender person. I know that it feels like the LGBT community sometimes doesn’t advance our rights as quickly as the LGB, but they’re much more supportive than the general population.

    FoolMe1, that last sentence also goes for you.

    I’m speaking here as a trans-lesbian – Gay issues and trans issues are not the same, but they’re similar, and both groups stand to gain from an alliance with the other. I can’t understand being hateful within ourselves. Don’t we get enough of that from the bigots?

  • Terry E


    I am 60+ YO and I’ve been running into “Noahs” for a long time!
    I recall visiting a gay bar in Asbury Park to see a TS Girlfriend who was working there as a barmaid. We talked about the new skirt she was wearing. Later, the guy next to me remarked “I don’t know why “HE” has to do that” I was appalled and left soon after. These effete, yet still not feminine, idiots are amusing when they try to be big, tough conservatives about putting someone in jail. Especially on such a meaningless charge as a DMV violation. We get better treatment from the straight population! Most,(not all) respect our true gender and use correct pronouns. Gays have no courage and fold at the first sign of a fight. Many TSes are former war heros and fighter pilots. It takes a certain amount of courage to presnt as a woman in most places. Gays are simply too frightened. That’s why I challenged him to attend this year’s TDOR services. It would open his eyes!

  • Daez

    @Mykell: In fairness, I don’t think he is the only one that bitches about bisexuals (espexially bisexual females). I don’t see any problem with bisexuals myself.

  • Daez

    @Terry E: Seriously, Terry get a grip. There were no gay people at Stonewall? Seriously? You must be kidding if you believe that rhetoric. Hell, there were even straight people at Stonewall. If you think there are absolutely no gay or straight people in the TS/TG equality movement then you are as misguided as the black people that think all whites owned slaves.

  • Daez

    @FoolMe1: That is where you are wrong. The first thing they do when they get a criminal in their custody is a background check, and jails/prisons don’t take very well to registered sex offenders. For being a registered sex offender, she got off pretty light. Why do you insist on linking this woman who tried to have sexual relations with a minor (sure she just wanted to show him/her her privates…mmmhmmm) into your community just because she shares your experiences. If some gay dude tries to diddle a kid, I’m not going to be all welcoming to him. He can rot in a 3 foot by 3 foot cage for all I care.

  • Daez

    @Terry E: I don’t back down from a fight. I live in a small town in the middle of conservative America and because of a very supportive family, I have been out and open for a very long time. I’ve been fighting in one way or another for 31 years and I’m 31 years old. Rather it was fighting to survive at birth (born blue with a wrapped cord) or fighting in school when people called me faggot every day or fighting to be myself in a community and enviroment that hated me, I’ve never actually backed down form a fight. Stop talking in generalities, stop basing your distate for the gay community on the HRC. The vast majority of gays are pissed that the HRC tried to throw TS/TG under the bus. The vast majority of gays have been frequenting drag clubs longer than I’ve been alive, and supporting your sisters that work in those clubs because no one else in many areas were willing to hire them. I think what most guys don’t get is the whole desire to not be a guy. It doesn’t mean we should judge you for it. It means we should try to understand it.

  • FoolMe1


    I didn’t even imply that the sexual offense was remotely OK. I’m saying it’s immaterial to a DMV conviction. No more no less.

  • polarkitten97501

    It’s GLAAD Gays and Lesbians Agaisnt Anti – Defemation that presents and “LGBT” community to the public. GLAAD is also responsible for ubrella-ing drag queens, she-males and transsexuals into one group.

    Noah can fuck off since he has no one else to blame but his fellow for this public image disrespect! I’d be very happy if Noah can make these cock sucking butt fucking faggots and rug munching finger fucking dykes stop conflating transsexuals with their community’s transvestites! He is too much of a faggot coward to challenge superior faggots to himself!

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