Transgender, Prison and the Patriarchy

This article was written by Jessica Fisher

The headline read rather plainly, “Transgender Woman Arrested for Exposing Breasts, Jailed With Men”

The chief deputy tells the local new station, “First off, Ashley is still a man.”

The chief deputy says, don’t worry, “We do have a policy in place. Typically we put them in isolation.”

“Them” who, deputy? The freaks? The faggots? The queers? “Them” who, deputy?

The real fun part is realizing this woman was arrested for indecent exposure of her breasts and yet they still forced her into a male cell.

This isn’t simply your run of the mill bigotry. This is hypocrisy. Maybe we ignore that it’s okay for a man to show his nipples in public while breasts remain illegal, maybe we accept that she was breaking the law, and maybe we buy into the idea that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but even coming that far it still seems insurmountable to ignore the fact that these police officers arrested a woman for exposing her breasts and then still decided to dictate to her what her gender was.

The problem here is that a woman was victimized. The problem here is that we live in a society where we’re supposed to be ashamed of our bodies, even if they’re the ones we’ve worked to be proud of all of our lives. The problem of separating prisoners into two categories and two categories alone, and having those two categories be by genitalia and whatever discretion a chief deputy makes is that it ostracizes people, separates them from any socializing, puts them in high anxiety situations of fear and uncertainty, but it also reinforces a toxic gender binary.

That deputy, that police department, and every police department should be considerate and thoughtful not of genitalia, but of gender identity.

Hypothetically speaking, however, let’s say someone in Ashley’s position wanted to get Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS), so that if they may ever get arrested for some heinous law like ‘indecent exposure’ they may not have to be housed or held opposite of their gender identity. SRS can cost anywhere from $15,000-$25,000-$50,000 depending on if an individual is having their genitalia, chest and/or face operated on (

The patriarchal society is asking people like Ashley to pay these kinds of sums of money to capitulate to a binary they may not even agree with, only so they won’t be mistreated.

This is reason number five trillion and seventy-two of why we must smash the patriarchy. No one deserves mistreatment, especially from those who claim to ‘serve and protect’, simply because they don’t fit nicely into a gender binary.

Categories: Jessica Fisher | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Transgender, Prison and the Patriarchy

  1. The overthrow of the matrarchical order took patriarchs a few thousand years. Now there’s ample evidence that the pendulum has started to move in the opposite direction.The number of men choosing to change their gender, is by far, far greater than women choosing to alter theirs. The unjustifiable arrogance of the patriarchical order of ‘things’ is under some measure of erosion the world over.

    Therefore do not lose heart. Refuse to be cowed down by patrarchically based ‘laws’ that are steadily losing their blind and brain washed mass acceptance. In this refusal it will be vital to seek the co-operation of intelligent lawyers and intelligent ‘priest-hood’. Reason and faith would thus be encouraged to become more and more tolerant of each others’ views, rather than each continuing to drift apart in directions laid down by prejudice.

    And of course be aware that even mighty Rome was not built in a day !

    • Kimberly

      You do not “choose” to change your gender. I was born with an intersex condition, and misgendered from birth. I KNEW I was not the gender I was told I was by age 4. This is the same for many transgender friends, and even as an intersex person I consider myself transgender as well.

      I was forced into a position by society to conform to a specific role. I learned to play that role after being physically, verbally, and mentally abused by children and adults of both genders. I pushed my real self down so far in my psyche that it took many, many years. It was only after years of self-examination and professional help that I can rectify the problem that I knew I had when I was 4 years old.

      It is a “choice” the same as you “choose” to have blue eyes.

      By the way, the number of Female to Male (FtM) versus Male to Female (MtF) transgender people IS ABOUT THE SAME (slightly less than MtF’s). MtF’s are usually the lightning rods, as they tend to stand out. The only time that a FtM gets noticed is when you hear about a “pregnant man.” Female to Male transgender folk “pass” exceedingly well, and as a result, many are stealth. You probably see a couple of FtM’s every day without knowing it.

  2. Reblogged this on brandon arkell and commented:
    What irks me most is that the chief deputy insists with certainty that Ashley is ‘still a man’. Who is he to tell her what her identity is?

  3. To begin with, most police forces have stopped “serving and protecting” decades ago. We have never been safe from them, so there was never a time when it was better. BUT. Now, these gender -based/biased persecutions and abuses of power are becoming publicly known, which is a very important step forward.

  4. Pingback: A word on Topfreedom | Being Feminist

  5. Very good post. I’m going through many of these issues as well..

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