Transgender inmates at a Colorado prison are demanding housing reforms, but they are angry at the inmate who spurred those reforms.
Transgender inmate Lindsay Saunders-Velez sued the Colorado Territorial Prison after claiming he was raped by another prisoner, but now his fellow transgender inmates are angry he didn’t follow codes of conduct and are concerned this could have bad results for the rest of them. “We call her a him … Nobody wants to be around him any more,” said transgender prisoner Paula Marie Thompson, according to the Denver Post.
Saunders-Velez claims he was raped first in December and again on April 20. Numerous inmates, interviewed on May 4, claim he acted provocatively and that the “rapes” he alleges were actually consensual sexual activities.
“He is extremely flirtatious,” said transgender inmate Taliyah Murphy. “I believe he had sex and because he got caught he is turning it into rape.”
They also claim Saunders-Velez has the option of showering privately but showers with men instead so he can continue making rape allegations, putting the reforms they’ve been working towards in jeopardy.
Attorney Paula Griesen says differently, alleging that Saunders-Velez has become a target because he is willing to be vocal. “Lindsay is paving a path, but she’s also paying a price for being vocal,” Griesen said, the Denver Post reported.
Saunders-Velez’s lawyers sent the prison a May 7 resolution intended to pressure the facility to make official changes to policy so that transgender prisoners can be housed according to their gender identity. “Transgender inmates are particularly vulnerable in U.S. prisons because of a general policy of housing inmates according to birth-assigned gender or genital configuration, regardless of their current appearance or gender identity,” the resolution states.
Inmates must be housed according to their biological sex in Colorado state prisons. San Francisco county jails, however, formally announced in February they are implementing a policy for transgender people that will respect gender preferences, house them in the cells of their chosen identity, and offer other gender identity services. (RELATED: San Francisco Prisons Implement Reforms Giving Transgenders Special Treatments)
A transgender inmate sued the Indiana Department of Corrections commissioner in November 2017 because the prison he’s currently housed in wouldn’t provide him with hormone therapy. Another transgender inmate also sued a Massachusetts state prison in November because it won’t offer him female services like mammograms and tampons or house him with other female inmates.