Like many of the Jan 6 insurrectionists, Jessica Watkins made headlines for her actions at the capital and her subsequent trial. In her case, that attention was focused solely on the fact that she is trans. The judge who presided over her conviction called the story of how she came to identify with right wing conspiracies “compelling.” All the same, Watkins was reportedly sent to a men’s prison to serve her 8.5 year sentence—and she sought far right help in getting transferred.
How did we get here?
Watkins was convicted in May, but she wrote on X (formerly Twitter) in August that she’d been sent to a men’s prison. Along with the hashtags #j6livesmatter and #pardonjessicawatkins, she called on her followers to appeal to the Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, and (astonishingly) some of the most vocally anti-trans politicians in office—Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Jim Jordan.
Shortly afterwards, she posted an update saying she was at a transfer center awaiting relocation to a women’s prison. But her apparent belief that such figures as Greene, Gaetz and Jordan would’ve had anything to do with it suggests that—despite her statement of remorse—some things never change.
Before founding a militia in Ohio and joining the far-right group the Oath Keepers, Watkins served in the military. In her trial, she described how serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” put her into a state of paranoia around the government. According to her, this led to the familiar InfoWars rabbit hole of right wing conspiracy theories.
Watkins partially downplayed her Jan 6 involvement, saying, “I was just another idiot running around the hallway.”
“But idiots are responsible,” she added, “and today you are going to hold this idiot responsible.”
One person who remained unconvinced of any remorse—not the least because Watkins also stated she still believes the 2020 election needs looking into—was prosecutor Alexandra Hughes. Whatever her personal history, Watkins played a role in terrorizing officers at the capital, whose PTSD she reportedly mocked.
“It is perhaps an unsurprising fact of human nature that those who are subjected to injustice occasionally bring injustice on others,” Hughes said. “We do not dispute what she has been through, but what she did on that day has deep and devastating – devastating – effects on individuals who showed up to work that day and never did anything to Jessica Watkins.”
Hughes concluded by pointing out that Watkins “has our sympathies, but she does not have an excuse.”