Trans Prisoners

MTPC works to ensure that local, state, and federal legislation, policies, and practices that affect prisoners are allowing appropriate dress codes and are not denying trans prisoners access to medically necessary trans-related health care, canteen items, trans-related educational materials and books, and/or visitors.

In the past five years, MTPC has worked against  “An Act Relative to Appropriate Use of Public Funds,” which seeks to legislatively prohibit the Massachusetts Department of Corrections from administering specified medical care and treatment to transgender inmates. Denying medical care and medically necessary treatment to transgender inmates is inhumane and against the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)

MTPC provided comments on the national standards for the prevention, detection, response, and monitoring of sexual abuse developed by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission for the rule update for the Prison Rape Elimination Act 2012.

What is the The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)?
(This information is adapted from NCTE’s LGBT PEOPLE AND THE PRISON RAPE ELIMINATION ACT July 2012.)

PREA is a comprehensive set of federal rules that address all aspects of a facility’s operations as they relate to preventing, detecting, and responding to abuse. The regulations include provisions relating to “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming inmates.” Among the most important protections are the following:

Screening and classification

▪ Facilities must screen all individuals at admission and upon transfer to assess their risk of experiencing or perpetrating abuse, including identifying those who may be at risk because of their transgender status, gender non-conformity, sexual orientation, or intersex condition. The individual’s own perception of their vulnerability must also be considered.

▪ Individuals may not be disciplined for any refusal or non-disclosure during screening regarding gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex condition, disability status, or prior sexual victimization.

Download the executive summary of the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape.

▪ Facilities must use this information to make appropriate, individualized decisions about an individual’s security classification and housing placement.

What MTPC Is Doing

MTPC is researching the conditions for trans people in Massachusetts Prisons, Jails, and Detention Facilities. We are thankful to everyone who is willing to help us in our research about the treatment of transgender individuals in prison/ jail. We are asking for current and formerly incarcerated transgender individuals to complete the Transgender Prisoner Questionnaire so that we may gain a better understanding of the conditions that transgender people are under while incarcerated. If you know a transgender person currently incarcerated in Massachusetts, please mail them our Transgender Prisoner Questionnaire, Cover Letter, and Trans Prisoner Resource Guide.

Your participation in our research project will not lead to legal advocacy for your individual case but rather aid us in our ongoing research. The information you provide will be used to advocate for policy changes, programs, and procedures that are respectful of transgender people in correctional facilities in the state of Massachusetts. Your participation in this research is completely voluntary; your input is very valuable to us, and we thank you in advance for your time and effort.

Resources for Trans People Who Are Currently Incarcerated

Black and Pink
614 Columbia Road
Dorchester, MA 02125

Black and Pink provides advocacy and connections between queer and trans prisoners of all genders within the U.S. prison and jail system through a free newsletter of information, art, and pen pals. Submissions for the newsletter are welcomed.

Prison Book Program
c/o Lucy Parsons Bookstore
1306 Hancock Street, Suite 100
Quincy, MA 02169

Prison Book Program gives books to individual prisoners in the United States. Prisoners have limited access to educational materials, and we provide them with free books for personal development during incarceration. The Prison Book program takes donated books.

MTPC is also a book drop-off site for paperback books on transgender topics. Please see the Prison Book Programs Do’s and Don’ts for donating books. Email for more information about donating directly to MTPC.

ACLU: The LGBT Project and Prisoners Rights Project

The LGBT Project works for an America free of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. See Fields v. Smith: Transgender inmates barred from medical treatment.

The ACLU National Prison Project is dedicated to ensuring that our nation’s prisons, jails, and other places of detention comply with the Constitution, domestic law, and international human rights principles, and to ending the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP)
342 9th Street, Suite 202B
San Francisco, CA 94103

The TGI Justice Project’s (TGIJP) mission is to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant/genderqueer, and intersex (TGI) people in California prisons and beyond. TGIJP publishes Surviving Prison in California: Advice by and for Transgender Women.

Sylvia Rivera Law Project (works with NYC trans people only)

Provides free legal services for low income people and people of color who are trans, intersex, or gender non-conforming, including issues related to housing, employment, foster care, welfare, benefits, immigration, school, and the criminal justice system in the New York City area ONLY.

P.O. Box 4796
Baltimore, MD 21211

Works with women including trans women and trans men who feel they would benefit from women-centered services. They offer support and advocacy for those who are incarcerated, homeless, addicted, or in the sex trade.

Just Detention International

A national human rights organization that works to put an end to sexual violence against men, women, and youth in all forms of detention. Note: If you are incarcerated, please feel free to communicate with JDI using legal mail, addressing your correspondence to:

Resources That Are Not Specific to Transgender People

Massachusetts Correctional Legal Services (MCLS, Inc.)
Eight Winter Street, 11th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

MCLS provides civil legal services to people in Massachusetts prisons and jails. The office does not provide criminal defense services. The office focuses on four issues: health and mental health care, guard-on-prisoner violence, physical conditions of confinement, and segregation and isolation. MCLS addresses these problems through administrative advocacy, legislative advocacy, giving information to prisoners about their rights and how to pursue them, referrals to private attorneys, and some individual and class action litigation. MCLS is also known as Prisoners’ Legal Services.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Criminal Justice Program
2161 Mass. Ave.,

Cambridge, MA 02140

The AFSC Criminal Justice Program provides referrals for prisoners in addition to working with prison organizations on issues affecting incarceration. The ASFC supports prisoner initiatives to create institutional and personal change.

Span, Inc.
105 Chauncy Street

Boston, MA 02111

Span provides resources designed to help people transition from living in prison to thriving in the community. Span has provided intensive support services using a personalized combination of case management, health services, career development, and counseling support. They help clients reintegrate into their communities as assets rather than liabilities.

Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Information

Info from Mass Legal Services about CORI
Info from Mass Legal Help about CORI