Transgender woman held in solitary confinement in China

According to ECNS.cn, a transgender woman, identified as Guiying Li, was found guilty of theft in Changsha, Hunan Province. Due to complications and post-surgical problems requiring additional expensive medical procedures, she allegedly began stealing in order to fund additional surgery that she needed. Public Security Department officials have announced that she will serve her time in solitary confinement at Changsha No. 1 Detention Center, marking the Center's first case involving a transgender prisoner. The Detention Center has decided to segregate her from other prisoners on the grounds that it would be "inappropriate" to incarcerate her with either men or women.

"Administrative segregation," or solitary confinement, is a frequent mandate for transgender persons, in a system that typically does not understand or respect their gender identity. During solitary confinement, detainees may be confined separately for 23 hours a day with little access to proper clothing, medication, and/or communication with the outside world, and this treatment can drag on for months as detainees await decisions on their case.

Chairman Durbin of the American Civil Liberties Union has noted the use of solitary confinement is no longer used for dangerous or violent detainees, but instead:

We're seeing an alarming increase in isolation for those who don't really need to be there, and for many, many vulnerable groups like immigrants, children, LGBT inmates, supposedly there for their own protection.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act regulations recognize that the stigmatizing effect of isolating LGBTI prisoners can have profound physical and psychological long-term effects, yet the practice remains too common. Lambda Legal, along with five other LGBT advocacy organizations wrote in a testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights that:

Solitary confinement affects many people incarcerated in U.S. jails, prisons, and detention facilities, but none so significantly as transgender inmates and immigrant detainees involuntarily confined not because of their actions, but because of their identities.

Transgender individuals face ill and unwarranted treatment in the prison system not only abroad but domestically as well. Today marks the 50th day of incarceration without criminal charges for Connecticut's Jane Doe, a transgender teen who has spent most of her prison time in solitary confinement.

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