Musicians Elton John and Michael Stipe released a statement today calling for better protections for transgender inmates.
“Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, yet they continue to face horrific injustices,” they wrote.
Last week, the experiences of transgender women in prison made headlines, with a major win in Transgender Law Center’s case on behalf of Michelle Norsworthy in California, and with a Department of Justice brief supporting another another inmate, Ashley Diamond, who is working with the Southern Poverty Law Center for transition-related care. Both Ashley and Michelle have faced horrifying abuse, sexual assault, and discrimination while incarcerated in men’s prisons. Our client Michelle sought gender reassignment surgery after she was raped in prison and contracted Hepatitis C, which forced her to stop her hormone treatment because of the damage it caused to her liver.
John and Stipe point out that transgender inmates are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted while incarcerated and, “more often than not, assaults in part go unreported because the perpetrators are prison guards, wardens and staff.”
“This is outrageous,” they wrote, “and the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned.”
Thank you to both of these musical giants for speaking out! Both musicians have long been outspoken activists, and Elton John is the Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which supports Positively Trans, a Transgender Law Center project seeking to organize and mobilize trans people living with HIV/AIDS.