Transgender Woman Says Prison Guards Harassed Her, Stripped Her Naked

Misha Sanders, a transgender prisoner in Florida, said prison guards forced her to undergo a strip-search in front of other inmates, belittling her during it.

A transgender woman said she was assaulted and embarrassed by law enforcement personnel when they strip-searched her in a jail cell in front of male inmates.

Misha Sanders, 39, is suing the Florida Department of Corrections for an incident that went down at the Wakulla Correctional Institution Annex in September last year. According to her complaint, filed on June 4 of this year, Sanders was ordered to be strip-searched by a correctional officer there.

Sanders told the guard she needed privacy in order to comply because she’s transgender. The guard, she alleged in her suit (which she has filed herself), told her, “Don’t waste my time.”

The guard made her remove her clothing, down to her jockstrap and bra, which were also removed. The supervising major came over at that time and belittled Sanders, saying “What the hell, he has tits,” she wrote in her lawsuit.

The officers’ comments “were cruel and degrading,” Sanders wrote in her complaint. “Then while standing waiting to be shackled on the gate, Major Hamilton comes up to me and says 'women don’t have penises, [you’re] sick.'”

Sanders herself is serving a 30-year prison sentence for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. But no inmate, regardless of their history, deserves to be treated in a cruel or unusual manner.

At the same time, this case presents the troubling treatment of a transgender inmate at the hands of prison personnel. Transgender prisoners deserve to be treated as the gender that corresponds to their identity — not to be degraded by those in charge.

Sanders said she still gets ridiculed by her fellow inmates, to the degree that she requires aid from a counselor. The degradation she suffered was not necessary and demonstrates the need for reform in our nation’s prison system to accommodate prisoners of all gender identities.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: TryJimmy/Pixabay

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