Survivor Stories

Anonymous, Texas



I am 28 years old, about 5’5” tall, weigh about 145 pounds and I am a transgender woman. This is my first time in real prison and I am currently incarcerated at a men’s state prison in Texas.

I have been in the TDCJ for almost two years now and I have found it extremely difficult to live in general population. Here in Texas there is something called safekeeping, which is a set-up for inmates who are considered vulnerable because they are gay, weak, scared, ex-gang members, or some other reason. I found out about safekeeping after I had already come across many safety issues. Once I found out that there was a place where I could feel safer, I repeatedly requested a transfer, but my attempts to get into safekeeping have been ignored. It is evident to the officers that I am having major problems in my current unit, but still they refuse to classify me into safekeeping.

Because officers are not doing anything to protect me, I get into trouble so that I can be placed in solitary confinement, where I don’t have to deal with the general population inmates. In general population I have been extorted. I have had to ride with a gang for protection from another, more violent gang; and I have had to do sexual favors for gang members. I have also had to do other favors such as hold contraband, transfer contraband to other inmates, and wash laundry, clean, and cook for gang members. I am an artist so in order to pay for my protection I have drawn and sold portraits. I am tired of being scared and of having to do things against my will because I am scared. I just can’t seem to get help from anyone. I did spend two months in safekeeping at a different unit, and I felt much safer, but then I was transferred and once again placed in general population where the cycle of extortion and sexual assault continues.

I’m tired and I’m scared and I no longer want to be anybody’s property or have to pay money so that I won’t be hurt. I have written to several offices of the TDCJ, including the Office of the Inspector General and the State Classification Committee, but I have not received a response or any information. It is as if my safety doesn’t matter to anybody and that’s why I do whatever these inmates tell me to do. I don’t want to contract HIV or any other STD, but I’m worried that if things don’t change I will eventually be infected with something.

— Anonymous, Texas