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Trans woman sent to men’s prison: a story of abuses and terrifying rapes

Tykira Spruill - trans woman incarceretd in men's prison

A trans woman from Virginia lived one of the most horrible experiences a trans person could live.

As the WYDaily reports, Tykira Spruill’s nightmare began back in 2006 at St Bride’s Correctional Facility in Chesapeake, Virginia, after she was arrested for stealing. At that time she had recently started medically transitioning with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and silicone injections in her face, but when she arrived she was stripped of any gender-affirming clothing and placed in a men’s area.

But unfortunately it did not stop there, as she later got charged with “identity fraud charges” and when she was taken to prison the story repeated. She was still having silicone injections before she was incarcerated, and when she was taken the doctor on duty for an infection – always in the men’s area – the doctor did not really how to take care of a trans woman.

The nightmare, unfortunately, did not stop at this episode. She also experienced abuses and rapes from other men imprisoned with her.

One day a man, who Tykira had noticed staring at her, followed her into the shower. He pushed and pinned her to the floor and raped her.

She said: “I didn’t want to scream and wake the whole pod up. I didn’t know what to do. What do you do when you’re being raped?” 

After that traumatic violent episode, word spread in the prison and other prisoners began approaching her and touching their genitals. Tykira was forced to keep her head down and avoid contact with others until her release.

Cory Gerwe, a clinical director at the LGBTQ Life Center, said that placing trans people in a prison that does not match their gender has “major impact because they have to shift their identity”, and added:

“They have to put on a mask of someone they’re not and pretend they’re something they’re not. […] There are so many changes that need to be done with the prison system in general. I think absolute systemic change is how we navigate that process.”

Tykira said that those violent and sad memories will never leave her – and it is understandable – and it is because of what she suffered that in 2018 she began helping other trans women, using her experience, through her work with local LGBT+ non-profit Nationz Foundation.

She added:  “There are days where I wake up and I just have to keep pushing forward. I know there are people in the trans community crying out for help but they’re scared because they don’t trust people.”

She knows she is was and is not the only one who went, is going or will go through this horrible experience and knows also that “as long as you have prisons open, someone on that compound will be extorting a trans woman”.

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