By Caleb Christ
From PHN Issue 40, Summer/Fall 2019
The TGI Justice Project (TGIJP) is a group of transgender, gender variant, and intersex people inside and outside prisons, jails, and detention centers. They work to create community and share resources with transgender, gender variant, and intersex (TGI) people navigating incarceration, re-entry, and surviving in communities that are highly policed. TGIJP works with community members and legal experts to end human rights abuses and police violence against TGI people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and beyond.
TGIJP was created in 2004 to provide legal services for transgender and gender variant people incarcerated in California. In 2005, lifelong transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy joined the organization’s leadership to help fulfil their mission to support transgender women of color in the prison system. Miss Major’s leadership has uplifted the lives of many currently and formerly incarcerated transgender women of color. Miss Major recently retired from TGIJP, but the organization continues to do amazing work on a daily basis. TGIJP is able to provide some legal assistance to transgender people incarcerated in California.
TGIJP has published a few free, online resources to share with transgender people who are currently incarcerated. These resources can be printed and mailed to transgender people in prison. “Still We Rise” is a prison resource guide that contains information on nationwide newsletters, information on legal rights to accessing hormones, HIV medication, advocating for healthcare while incarcerated, and more. This resource guide also contains basic information about gender-affirming hormone therapy so that
incarcerated folks who have taken hormones or want to start taking hormones can better understand dosages, side effects, and changes to expect while on hormones.
TGIJP also publishes the “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Guide to Parole Preparation.” This resource guide provides advice specifically for transgender folks preparing for parole. Transgender people have a harder time establishing housing and employment after incarceration. In addition, many transgender people have strained relationships with blood family which make their parole cases more challenging. Harassment and violence during incarceration can further complicate parole cases.
The TGIJP parole guide stresses the importance of your personal statement, how you have grown while incarcerated, and your support systems and plans for re-entry. It can be helpful to begin building supportive relationships as soon as possible. These relationships could be with friends or chosen family on the outside or with organizations such as TGIJP or a pen pal. Any friends, community groups, or organizations you may have connections to can assist your case by providing letters of support. They might also be able to speak about how they have seen you learn and grow during your incarceration, help you write and edit your personal statement, or help research ways to get you connected to health care and other support upon re-entry. Trans folks are beautiful, powerful, and resilient.
Our stories are powerful and need to be told!
Resources described here, such as the “Still We Rise” prison resource guide and the “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Guide to Parole Preparation” can be obtained by writing to:
TGI Justice Project
370 Turk St #370
San Francisco, CA 94102