Our comrade, who we have been supporting for over a year, attempting to mitigate the effects of criminalisation and terrorisation by the state, is now being remanded in custody at HMP Pentonville, London.
Being a trans woman in a male prison, and struggling with extreme dissociative states of mind, her immediate safety is in doubt. She’s on hunger strike since Monday. We are unaware of the conditions she is being held under inside the prison.
She informed supporters about the strike, and asked them to circulate a petition to demand an immediate end to her incarceration in a male prison.
A year ago she was charged for an attempted robbery, and this summer she was found not fit to stand trial because of her mental health. The act was ‘proved’ and the judge recommended a hospital order (meaning kidnap and incarceration in a locked ward ‘for her own good’). More recently she has been arrested on several occasions for alleged crimes, mostly in connection to unbearable living conditions and refusal of help by hospitals. Now the same State that says she is too ‘crazy’ to be punished is holding her in a male prison, since Monday and at least for another week.
Tonight we are demonstrating at the prison, as the most immediate way of communicating that we hear her, and she is not alone.
For some of us, gender is a living terror. Not an idea, a topic for debate, a transactional ‘identity’, but a daily lived terror.
For those of us who have been offering support to our friend, in small and imperfect ways, for a year and more, it has been a lonely, conflicted and compromised process. All of us must engage with how we practice solidarity every day, with those around us who are experiencing the terror of gender and gendered violence most acutely.
It is our personal opinion as improbable combatants and improvised ‘care-workers’ that solidarity must translate as attack. Attack on and flight from the system that sustains prisons and gender, what we call ‘the gendered prison’ of this society. We are convinced that the present circumstances illuminate this only more starkly.
Manifestations of shared rage, and letters to ‘Prisoner J’ are welcome. Please email email@example.com to get in touch.