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Takataapui TV: Transgender in Jail

Tue 13 May 2008 In: Worth Checking Out View at Wayback View at NDHA

The next episode of Maori Television's LGBT documentary programme Takataapui will be broadcast at 9:30pm on Monday 19 May: It's 1989 and following her shock arrest, in accordance with Corrections National Policy, pre-operative whakawahine Gemma Huriwai is placed in the Auckland men's correctional facility Mount Eden Prison, according to her birth gender. It is through Gemma's story that we hear an account of how mainstream institutions of the time dealt with not only her arrest but also her incarceration. The present day view is also represented byTai Tokerau Regional Partnership Manager for Department of Corrections, Neil Campbell. Neil talks about how transgender inmates are catered for in prisons around Aotearoa. Gemma says her jail term was based on the charge of sexual violation and what appears to be a faulty conclusion. Prosecution presented evidence that claimed they had found semen on both Gemma and her accuser's underwear but one of the long term effects for transgender women taking hormone treatment is loss of ejaculation. Gemma is unsure whether her lawyer understood this information. Something the Corrections Department and Gemma agree on is that education is an important key; but who needs to learn what? Transgender people in the prison system are able to continue hormone treatment but are unable to commence taking hormones during the term of their incarceration. Access to mirrors and tweezers, important for whakawahine, is on a case by case basis. As for discrimination – the complexity of power over powerlessness (guard over inmate) is not exclusive to transgender in jail, but for our sisters in men's jails this is in addition to the awful bottom line of being a woman and being held in a male facility. Former streetworker and prison inmate, Gemma Huriwai: "My first night in there was the first and the last time I ever contemplated suicide. Cause that's how ugly they made me feel, it all just needed to end. As far as I was concerned I wasn't a man, I didn't feel like one, I didn't want to be one so yeah in that respect it was humiliating." Tai Tokerau regional Partnership Manager of the Department of Corrections, Neil Campbell: "Under section 65 of the Corrections Regulations 2005 people are placed in prisons according their biological gender. If for instance we have transgender yet to go through pre-operation then they will generally be sent to a men's prison conversely if they are post operative then they housed in the appropriate accommodation for that new identity." Takataapui is broadcast on Maori Television each Monday night at 9:30pm, then repeats on Freeview's Stratos channel at 10pm. More from the Takataapui crew is available to view on demand via Gay Gogglebox TV on the link below. Takataapui TV - 13th May 2008

Credit: Takataapui TV

First published: Tuesday, 13th May 2008 - 11:55am

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