The reality of life as a trans woman in a men’s prison is laid bare in a harrowing letter from an inmate in an all-male facility.
Miley Selena Fletcher is being held in the State Correctional Institution Forest in Pennsylvania, a maximum security men’s prison. She says she was transferred there “in retaliation” after she spoke out against an act of rape at a previous facility.
In an open letter to the Workers World Party, she described the intimidation, harassment and abuse she is forced to endure as she serves her sentence.
“I am a transgender woman forced to live in an all-male institution around transphobic male inmates, guards and staff. It is a sad environment,” she begins.
“It does not discriminate when it comes to transgender women — white, Black, Spanish, Indian, Asian in a male institution. You are hounded by not only the male inmates, but also the guards and staff and abused physically and sexually.”
She spoke of a “witch hunt” against trans women in male prisons, and claimed she was denied a transfer to a female facility “because of what [she] did” at the State Correctional Institution in Chester.
“At SCI Chester, I spoke up on protecting women and the lack of security at that institution under Superintendent Ms Lamas,” Fletcher said. “If you do not know Ms Lamas, she is responsible for the rape of a woman employee at the SCI Rockview by a sexual predator inmate.”
The employee had raised concerns that a male inmate was stalking her, but was allegedly dismissed by Lamas. “The woman employee ended up being captured in her office, knocked out, then raped,” Fletcher said.
The incident left Fletcher feeling unsafe under Lamas’ custody. She decided to take a stand on behalf of her fellow women, who make up 90 percent of employees at SCI Chester, and raised the incident with the Pennsylvania department of corrections.
Fletcher says her defiance was heavily punished and she was immediately transferred to the men’s maximum security prison, with one official directly telling her it was because she dared to speak out.
“I looked at him and said, okay, that’s fine. I know as a woman what I did was right,” she said. “Women at SCI Chester came to my cell thanking me for bringing that up even though they couldn’t. They feared losing their jobs if they brought it up.”
Fletcher remains in an all-male prison, and though she is temporarily safe on a special needs unit, she fears that safety could be taken from her at any moment.
“As a transgender woman, I am still in a male institution, where men can intimidate me, hit me if I say no to them that I won’t date them and be mentally, physically and sexually abused,” she said.
“SCI Forest has no problem placing transgender people on population blocks. I am on a [special needs unit], but for how long before the unit team gets tired of me?”