Shiloh Quine with the author of the upcoming book The Women of San Quentin. Photo courtesy SFINX Publishing.
Across the country, transgender women are jailed in inhumane conditions where they are housed with men, denied the medical care they need, and even denied the basic dignity of having their identity acknowledged – restricted from things as simple as accessing clothing or other items considered feminine.
But with Transgender Law Center’s latest win, that might be about to change.
On Friday, the California prison system reached a groundbreaking settlement with Shiloh Quine, a transgender woman represented by Transgender Law Center, to provide her with gender-affirming health care, move her to a women’s facility, and revise state policies so that prisons can no longer deny transgender people medically necessary surgeries, clothing, or cosmetics just because of who we are.
This historic settlement is a tremendous victory, not just for Shiloh and transgender people in prison, but for all transgender people who have ever been denied medical care or basic recognition of our humanity simply because we are transgender.
After years of unnecessary suffering, Shiloh will finally get the care she desperately needs. This is unprecedented: Shiloh will be the first transgender inmate in the country ever to receive gender-affirming surgery while incarcerated, as far as we know. Just as importantly, a state government – which already covers gender-affirming surgery under Medi-Cal – is making a clear statement that our identities and medical needs as transgender people are as valid as anyone else’s.
News of the settlement came the same day that the state confirmed Michelle Norsworthy, another transgender inmate represented by Transgender Law Center in a similar case, will be released this month on parole.
“After so many years of almost giving up on myself, I will finally be liberated from the prison within a prison I felt trapped in, and feel whole, both as a woman and as a human being,” Shiloh told us after receiving the news, as part of an interview available on online. “I’m just overwhelmed, especially knowing that this will help so many other people. I know I can never truly make amends for what I’ve done in the past, but I am committed to making myself a better person, and to helping others so they don’t have to struggle the way I have. I’m so grateful to Transgender Law Center, to my lawyers, and to CDCR. I will appreciate this from the bottom of my heart, forever.”