Trans Inmate Transferred to Women’s Prison

After a year-long battle with the court system, Strawberry Hampton, a transgender woman, was finally transferred to a female prison. She had previously been incarcerated in several male prisons within Illinois.

Strawberry had been convicted of a burglary by Cook county officials and sentenced to 10 years in prison. While she was an inmate across several male prisons, she states that she felt like a “sex slave.” Court documents state that correction officers forced Strawberry to engage in sexual acts with her cell mate while also being degraded in front of them for their own entertainment. They often called her ‘it’ and ‘he-she’ in addition to pulling down her pants and pointing out her genitals. Other inmates also threatened to rape and kill her. She was also denied trans counseling in prison, even after courts told her to attend them.

In the past, Strawberry sued the Illinois Department of Corrections for the abuse she faced. Although she had been transferred to four different facilities within a year, she claimed that she still faced abuse regardless of where she was sent. Her current suit against Pinckneyville Correctional Center officials will be heard on March 16, 2020.

Although Strawberry’s transfer is progress for trans individuals, more work can still be done. “I think Strawberry’s case is progress for the trans community,” says Lopez, UIS inQUEERy coordinator.“But her case also shows the structural violence transgender people face, and that’s seen through the lengthy legal process Strawberry had to endure to have her identity recognized.”

Strawberry’s transfer is not the first of prison transfers due to gender identity. In the past, trans inmates had also been transferred between prisons due to their gender identity. However, the exact amount of transfers based on gender identity is unknown to the public. But these records do not take into account the abuse that many trans individuals are facing within prison. In addition, it is not the only issue that inmates -trans or otherwise -face within prisons, as female prisoners often face abuse from corrections officers as well. Hopefully, Illinois will continue to look forward in granting better accommodations to inmates within the legal system.