Tobi Hill-Meyer

San Diego Trans Women Resume Hunger Strike

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | October 21, 2012 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Gender Anarky, hunger strike, prison conditions, trans prisoners, trans women in prison, transgender prisoners

Amazon and Caterina LePre (Cat), both members of the group Gender Anarky, had been hunger striking because of anti-trans discrimination that was preventing them from being able to Thumbnail image for bigstock-Prisoner-5584409.jpgshare a cell even though male prisoners in the facility have been allowed to choose their cellmates. On the 5th day of their hunger strike, Warden Richard Donovan assured them that they would be taken off single-cell status and allowed to be cellmates. They resumed their hunger strike a week later, on October 5th, when no action was being taken.

Both women report discriminatory treatment by a feminist case worker who lied to them and used manipulative tactics to delay the cell transfer, as well as the RN monitoring their vitals who allegedly is reporting false information about their health and in one case refusing to provide medical treatment. As a result Amazon and Kat have been keeping their own records of their health information.

Amazon and Cat wrote a detailed account of their ordeal which you can find under the cut, along with how to send supportive letters to them. Additionally, they are urging people to call the warden.

Call Warden Paramo the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility: (619) 661-6500

Demand that Eva Contreraz (C-45857)and Catarina LaPre (K-67313) be take off single-cell status and be allowed to share a cell. Demand that an end to the discriminatory housing policy against trans women in the correctional facility. Continue to call every day until you receive word that their demands have been met. The calling system may be confusing, but when in doubt press 3 at the first menu, then 5, and then 1. Also, if you do that and you get a recorded message instead of a person, it is an answering machine -- just wait for the end of the recording if you want to leave a message.

The below statement by Amazon and Cat was written on October 11th, the 6th day of the resumed hunger strike, and posted to the Gender Anarky webpage on Oct 18th. You can find more updates about their situation there.

What follows is a detailed summary of the Gender Anarky hunger strike thus far, written entirely in the words of Amazon and Cat. Read it, and be ready to keep calling every day until their demands are met:

"In September 2012, Sister Amazon and Cat began a hunger strike to protest the prison's refusal to allow them to be cellmates, while allowing male gender-identity prisoners to cell up with whoever they want. The strike began when Amazon's case worker, Ms. Lignell, began to give sham reasons for not initiating the administrative process that would make it possible for Amazon and Cat o be cell-mates. Amazon has been on single-cell status for 14 years due to in-cell abuse and violence on her by men. Upon her arrival at Donovan in early August, the warden advised her to "find a partner" so that she may be double-celled. Apparently, the prison wanted as many beds available as possible, and making it possible for Amazon to have a cellmate would lend itself to this. Otherwise, she is the sole occupant in a cell with two beds. Amazon was agreeable. Soon, she informed case worker Lignell that she and Cat wished to be cellmates, and requested committee action for double-celling. She also corresponded this to the yard captain, whom the warden had advised to review Amazon's cell status.

Once case worker Lignell saw that it was two transwomen who wanted to be cell with each other she began a series of deceptive maneuvers to avoid and prevent the process of taking Amazon off single-cell status. It is the political opinion of Amazon and Cat that Lignell is a feminist of the type hostile to Transsexual women. For example, at one point Lignell told Amazon that all committee hearings had been cancelled for two weeks, for the entire yard. She had no explanation for this, stating she did not know why this happened. However, when Amazon's therapist called Lignell about the situation Lignell said that she needed two weeks to do an evaluation report before Amazon can appear at committee, and that this was the delay. When questioned about the inconsistency, Lignell assured Amazon that she would be the first to go to committee in two weeks and that her and Cat would be celled up. But the girls were not persuaded, and at this point began their hunger strike, on Sept. 21. They submitted medical form 7362, Health Care Services Request Form, to the Clinic to inform of their strike and asked for daily monitoring of their health while on strike.

On September 23, a sergeant and psychiatrist interviewed the two girls, who reiterated their strike reasons and what was needed to resolve it- their celling together. Daily monitoring of their vital signs began. On September 24th, three days into the strike, Cat began to vomit liquid, as the girls were only drinking water. On Sept. 25th, Cat vomited green bile (possibly due to her medication) shortly after vital signs were taken by an RN in the nearby medical office. Amazon immediately informed a guard of Cat's condition, and the guard informed the RN on duty, Roucher. However, the RN refused to see Cat again, requiring her to fill out another 7362 form to be seen. But daily monitoring of the girls' health was covered by the initial 7362 form informing of the hunger strike. RN Boucher was simply trying to cover up the incident, hush it, and was punishing and harassing Cat for being on a hunger strike by requesting another 7362, and to delay treatment to cause her to suffer more and to charge her an additional $5 for medical services with a new 7362. The girls refused to go along.

On Sept. 26th, he fifth day of the strike, the warden, who was aware of the strike since day one, appeared at the girls' housing unit. Warden Paramo heard the girls out, Amazon reminding him of his instruction to her to find a partner for double-celling, that her and Cat were in agreement to cell up, and that Lignell was unduly delaying and avoiding the process. Warden Paramo then gave his word to the girls that he would look into the situation and take appropriate action, and asked the girls to begin eating in a good faith gesture. That night, the girls ended the hunger strike and ate dinner.

By the following week, however, no action had been taken, and while committee hearings were being held Amazon was not summoned. This flew in the face of Lignell's promise that Amazon would be taken off single-cell status, and flew in the face of the Warden's promise to resolve the matter. Therefore, on October 5th, 2012, the sisters once again went on strike.

As of this writing, Oct. 9th, the girls have been on strike for five days. On Oct. 9th, they also stopped taking water, informing medical via 7362 of this escalation of their strike. On Oct. 5th, Amazon weighed 202 lbs. at 6'1?. On October 6th, she weighed 195 lbs. On October 7th, 192. On October 8th, she maintained 192 lbs. On October 9th, 189. A loss of 13 lbs in four days. Cat has also lost weight drastically, and is struggling with disorientation and fatigue.

The girls have noticed that RN Boucher has been fudging the entries of their vitals, inaccurately recording their actual weight, misstating their reason for hunger striking, and not entering in the flow sheet that records hunger strike information that Amazon is no longer taking liquids. When she pointed out this omission to Boucher, he left a "yes" response to the question of whether liquids were being taken by her and entered in the brackets that she claims she is not drinking water. A couple of times Boucher forgot completely to weigh the girls. So they have taken to recording their vitals themselves on notepads for their own information, and keep a strict log of everything going on with them while on the strike. Depending on the course of things, they may eventually file a lawsuit about it, and the accuracy of the facts will be critical.

It is worth noting that the guards have been trying to entice the girls into ending their strike. One guard offered to let them visit in Cat's cell for a few hours if they start eating. The insinuation was not lost on the girls, that their real motive for the hunger strike was to have sex with each other. They considered the proposition an insult and utterly rejected it.

For decades hundreds of Transsexual women throughout California prisons have been undergoing brutal violence and rape because prisoncrats refuse to implement a Transsexual housing policy wherein such girls are safely housed and celled among themselves, and instead house them in dangerous environments where they will be abused and hurt, possibly killed, driven to suicide, going to solitary confinement to preserve their lives. Or stuck on single-cell status for endless years. For many girls it is a life of desperation not worth living. It is a genocidal policy, intentional, meant to punish and terrify the girls just because they are girls. We will not allow this happen or continue unchallenged. We will take up the challenge and resist with all our might, tooth and nail, and with our minds, sustained only by our kind and by an uncompromising spirit that glows within and keeps our resistance aflame, alive, throbbing, vibrating. The struggle for safe housing and for exclusive Transsexual housing for those who prefer it is a single aspect of Transsexual resistance in the California prisons. It is a human rights issue.

Gender Anarky Party stands for the union of all oppressed genderfags and for aggressive resistance against our oppressors, whatever disguise they wear. In this we will not take one step backward. The Transsexual resistance movement that is Gender Anarky advocates militant uncompromise and daring measures in the endless struggle for our peace and freedom. We are in the trenches of society, in the trenches of prisons, zealous in our confrontation with the oppressor, assured of victory, welcoming Martyrdom.

We urge our supporters to continue to confront Donovan Prison Warden Paramo and the Secretary of Corrections in Sacramento, California, to allow Transsexual women to cell with each other, and to establish exclusive Transsexual housing units for their safety. Join this resistance. Make your voice heard.

Resist for Transsexual Human Rights, Transsexual Peace, and Transsexual Freedom!

Action builds resistance! Build up the resistance!

To Transsexual Women Everywhere:

Do you resist? If not, why not? If so, join Gender Anarky. Begin a Gender Anarky column in your area. Dare to struggle and dare to win."

You can write to Amazon and Cat at the following addresses:

Eva Contreraz C-45857
PO Box 799003 (C15-223)
San Diego, CA 92179-9003

Catarina LePre K-67313
PO Box 799003
San Diego, CA 92179-9003

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