The Language of the Law: Incarcerated Trans Women, Healthcare, and Human Rights
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This project will identify specific legislation and laws that contribute to the denial of healthcare to incarcerated trans women and identify changes in these existing laws that could improve the experience of this distinct group of incarcerated individuals within the criminal justice system. This project focuses on two specific cases, comparing and contrasting the experiences of Chelsea Manning (a White trans woman) and Ashley Diamond (a Black trans woman of color). This project is situated within a current political climate, in which the former Trump administration has actively eliminated protections and rights for the LGBTQ community while working to increase police enforcement and incarceration over this group. My research questions seek to examine the limitations and possibilities of framing incarcerated transwomen’s lack of access to health care as a human rights issue. I seek to address how the denial of specific forms of health care - hormones, gender reassignment surgery, and therapy - violate human rights definitions of the right to equality and freedom from discrimination, the freedom from torture and degrading treatment, and the right to equality before the law. I hope to do this by analyzing three specific cases. Furthermore, I hope to explore the gendered nature of human rights, the inclusion of Transwomen and women within human rights frameworks, how both gender and race are treated under this framework and how the category of “human” itself is characterized by the current human rights discourse.
Viswanath, Megha (2021). The Language of the Law: Incarcerated Trans Women, Healthcare, and Human Rights. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from