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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » how should transgendered prison inmates be treated?

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Author Topic: how should transgendered prison inmates be treated?
Scarleteen Volunteer
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I stumbled across this article today.

Transsexual Inmate Sues for Series of 1993 Assaults, Rape in Prison

John Cuoco, 38, who has taken female hormones since 1991, claims officials at a federal prison for men in Bradford, about 70 miles east of Erie, should have known she faced a heightened risk of being attacked by other inmates.
Cuoco, who plans to have a sex change operation after being released, considers herself a woman, while the government considers Cuoco to be a man.

Cuoco is serving 14 years in prison for robbing New York area post offices, and claims her feminine appearance and a 1992 recommendation from New York judge should have prompted prison officials to place her in a protected area.

Instead, McKean prison officials placed Cuoco, now at a federal medical center in Rochester, Minn., in the general prison population. There, another inmate raped her on Oct. 20, 1993 and she was sexually assaulted twice after the alleged rape, the lawsuit states.
"If you put somebody with narrow shoulders, wide hips and characteristically female breasts in a male prison setting, I think you are on notice that this person is a risk for harm, sexual assault and rape," said Arthur D. Martinucci, Cuoco's attorney.

Cuoco is seeking unspecified damages, claiming prison officials violated her constitutional right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment by ignoring the risk that an effeminate inmate would be raped by fellow prisoners.

The government denies Cuoco was raped. If she was assaulted, the government says, prison officials did nothing wrong because Cuoco didn't report any threats before she was allegedly raped.


Martinucci said Cuoco's case is the first in Pennsylvania since the Supreme Court in 1994 unanimously ruled that prison officials could be held liable if they were aware of obvious dangers to inmates but ignored them.
The ruling came in the case of Dee Farmer, another transsexual federal inmate serving 20 years for credit card fraud. Farmer, who took female hormones and has breast implants, was allegedly raped in 1989 about a week after arriving at a federal maximum-security prison in Terre Haute, Ind.


Goettal recommended the Bureau of Prisons place Cuoco in a prison where they could separate her from violent inmates because "he is more likely to be a victim of prison homosexual rape than the average prisoner."
Cuoco was kept in protective custody while being prosecuted and claims that officials at the Bradford prison repeatedly refused her requests for the same treatment before and after the alleged rape.
According to the lawsuit, a prison guard told Cuoco "we're not going to let you play your games at McKean. You're going to have to fight 'em, or (have sex with) 'em."
The government counters that prison officials had no legal duty to place Cuoco in protective custody without a reason. A medical examination five days after she was allegedly raped showed no evidence of an assault and no inmates were charged with rape after an FBI investigation.
"In light of the realities of prison life, the Federal defendants acted reasonably," the government said in court documents.


Aside of the facts of this case (which we all can really hardly judge) what's your opinion here?
How should transgendered people who are in the transition of changing from one gender to the other be treated by the state? Should a mtf pre-op person be put into a prison for males or females? If you think they should be treated like their desired gender: How far along in the transition process would a transgendered person have to be?
Do you think there's generally a higher chance of non-straight prison inmates to be sexually assaulted? What could prison officials do to lower that risk?

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Posts: 4526 | From: germany | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
exit seraphim
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this is a hard one....because in either situation, i would think there would be a high rate of sexual assault for a transgendered mtf person.

if they were in a males prison, like the man in the above article...him looking effeminate would pose as a highrisk to sexual attack from other men, homosexual, or not.

depending on how far the surgery was, it could be hard in a female prison too, because of genitalia...couldn't a bunch of women who wanted to and hadn't been sexually active with a man in awhile because of imprisonment gang up and rape him?

it works both ways.

would it be effective to have a transgendered sect of a prison? do transgendered inmates have the right to choose where they want to go, a male/female prison? should that be a right? it's a very confusing situation that would probably need a lot of evaluation by professionals. considering that there must be a reason why they went to prison in the first place. very rarely, (at least in the usa) are people wrongly imprisoned.

ill have to think more.


Posts: 142 | From: H*Ton, NY | Registered: Feb 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I don't feel like transsexuals (mtf) should be placed in male prisons. This individual has been taking female hormones since 1991 so obviously the affects have already started taking place. I feel like the government should have realized this and placed her either in a woman's prison or in some special ward where she wouldn't have to deal with that. Just because she is in prison doesn't mean that she should be open to be sexually assaulted by male prisoners. I can see other male prisoners thinking of her as betraying their male sex or thinking of her as a real woman (in which case, it would be to them like they're locked up with a real live female to their disposale).

As for what would qualify for a transsexual to receive special treatment, I think it should be when they start showing any affects of the hormones. In a case of mtf, it would be when the male starts showing breast growth at all.

That's just my personal feelings about it though.

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Posts: 354 | From: san mateo, california, usa | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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This is a pretty tough issue. I personally feel that Cucco should NOT have been placed in a male inmate prison. She/ (he?) should have gone to a place with other females. I'm sure Cucco considers herself a female, and since she has been taking hormones for so long and because of her breast implants, I would consider her one as well. I think any effeminate male would be targeted as a rape victim in prison... placing transgendered men with other males seems to me like dangling meat in front of a lion..

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John Doe
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Rape is a major problem in prison for all prisioners who are not the toughest and most streetwise. Apparently it is not taken very seriously by prison authorities. But young men, particularly those who are not super tough, are considered fresh meat by the older prisoners. Given the huge jail population of the US, and the overwhelmingly male prison population, it is possible that the number of male rape victims is almost as large as the number of female rape victims, if prision rapes are included. The record keeping for prison rapes is not very good so the precise number is hard to get at.
The question then arises, if you give protection to transgendered people for hightened risk of rape, shouldn't you then also then apply the same protection to the shy slender 18 yo guy in the jail for a drug offense?

While looking for some info in response to a question Heather posed in another thread, I came up with this on this subject, according to this, when prison rapes are included, more men are raped in the U.S. each year than women are (although it doesn't go into women being raped in prison, but since only apx 5% of the prison population in the U.S. is female, I doubt it would make that much diference)

[This message has been edited by John Doe (edited 08-03-2001).]

Posts: 475 | From: ohio | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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