From the Inside

A cry for help from an incarcerated trans man in Texas

Laughter echoes through my cell for the millionth time as the laundry boss denies me my gender-related undergarments. The humiliation ricochets, causing my self-esteem to lessen, my spirits to plummet and my heart to drop. Another day of dehumanizing abuse. Another day of deprivation. I’m used to it by now, but it still doesn’t reduce the dejection and embarrassment.

After being diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2017, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), which provides healthcare to incarcerated people in Texas, prescribed me hormone treatment in the form of testosterone injections. What followed was a two-year battle with the Texas Department of Correctional Justice (TDCJ) through grievances and ombudsman complaints. I finally attained my prescriptions in 2019 and I’ve been on HRT ever since.

But being transgender in Texas — an anti-LGBTQIA state with a hardcore anti-trans legislation and strict laws against gender-affirming care — is brutal. It feels like a commission for the genocide of transgender people. And in Texas prisons, the impact of this genocide is more visible than ever.

Though I have a UTMB prescription for my hormone treatment, I am still at war within TDCJ with trying to obtain my T injections, boxer shorts, hygiene products, razors, and basic pronoun respect. These past five years have been a nonstop battle against the horrors of prolonged solitary confinement. 

But being transgender in Texas — an anti-LGBTQIA state with a hardcore anti-trans legislation and strict laws against gender-affirming care — is brutal.

Xandan Gulley

I’ve been a victim of numerous assaults during my time here. I’ve been punched, stomped, kicked, and spit on by officers. I’ve been purposely placed in a rec cage by transphobic officers where I was assaulted by four inmates. I’ve been denied gender-affirming clothing. I’ve endured broken bones, bruises, and wounds that were left to heal without medical attention because I’ve been denied medical treatment.

It’s the luck of the draw weekly on whether or not I receive my T injections week to week, depending on medical supply, availability of staff, and the mood or personal opinion of the selected officer chosen to escort me to the infirmary. One officer doesn’t like the fact that I’m trans and refuses to take me to medical.

My transition sometimes stagnates due to the inconsistency of my  T injections. My body suffers silently from the weeks when I have to miss a dose of my hormonal therapy. 

I’ve been denied razors to shave, and when I am given razors they’re dull, causing me to get razor burn. Out of sheer malice, I am given women’s hygiene products such as deodorant, body wash, and shampoo, causing my pH balance to be off-kilter and creating irritation and inflammation. 

With no resources or outside support, there’s no coalition or aegis for protection or help for me to live as a trans man in prison safely.

I’ve sought legal counsel to no avail. Cases like mine are dismissed without prejudice. 

Since Texas is an anti-LGBTQIA state, my fight for equality is always impeded and futile. Furthermore, Texas’s laws prohibit any outside ombudsman from interfering, and there are stipulated inhibitions installed against nonprofit organizations that limit their assistance. 

Texas can legally kill my spirit and deny me my well being without facing anything punitive. 

This is an ongoing fight I face between constitutional rights and Texas law in prison. I am who I am. I should not be deprived of who I am just because a level of bureaucracy ostracizes the LGBTQIA people and treats transgender people with contempt. My life, my future and my wellbeing is in limbo. My cries have been restrained for too long. Must I be a martyr of genocide to heard?♦

Xandan Gulley is a female-to-male trans person and writer who is incarcerated in Texas state prison. Xandan has been held in solitary confinement for over seven years due to his gender identity and as retribution for his published exposés that unveil the inhumane conditions that transgender prisoners face. Some of his articles can be found in the San Francisco Bayview, Texas Letters Project, Southern Cultures JournalPrison InsiderThe Advocate and LGBTQ Nation. You can write to Xandan through Securus: Britney Gulley / ID#01601283 / Texas Department of Criminal Justice / Murray Unit.

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