Survivor Stories



I am a transgender woman who is currently being housed in a men’s prison in Oklahoma. Staff here treat trans prisoners like we are all liars who can’t be trusted. They fail to realize that we are human and that we have value as human beings. We don’t get the treatment we deserve. We are denied medical care, respect, dignity, and to be recognized as the women that we are.

One of the biggest problems here in Oklahoma is the cross-gender strip searches of transwomen by male guards. In October 2019, the entire unit where I am housed was getting a shake-down. When they got to my cell, I asked my case manager to be sure to bring a woman to strip search me, in accordance with the PREA policy. She passed my request along and later returned to my cell with a female officer to tell me that I was “out of luck.”

The officer yelled, “You have a dick and balls! That makes you a man so you will be searched by a man!”

I showed the officer the policy, which states that transgender females are to be strip searched by female staff or medical staff only, but again she told me that I am not a woman and slammed my cell shut.

A few minutes later, two male staff members stormed into my cell and told me to get naked. I was again told that because I have male genitalia, that I am a man. I tried to show them the policy and explain what PREA says, but it didn’t matter to them.

The officer said I had two choices: comply with a full body strip search by a man or they’d mace me, cuff me, and several of them would hold me down and cut my clothes off by force.

Scared half to death, I said, “OK! I’ll do it!”

As I was getting undressed, I was shaking and crying. I stopped when I got down to my bra and panties, but the officer made me take those off too. I tried to cover myself with my hands, but was made to lift, squat, cough, and stand there naked, in full view as they all watched.

The next day, to add insult to injury, I was given a misconduct for “refusing” to be strip searched.

I was traumatized and humiliated, but I’m a strong woman. I’ve been filing grievances and fighting the misconduct ticket. I won’t give up because I’m not just fighting for me. I need to keep fighting in order to end abuse against all transwomen incarcerated in Oklahoma.


*Not the survivor’s real name