We demand expanded protections for all LGBTQ+ individuals because it’s time trans people are no longer systematically denied their freedoms. There are too many places where those in power have gotten comfortable with actively participating in routine discrimination towards trans and gender-expansive people. This includes the need for urgent reaffirmation of trans folks’ inherent rights to their own body and narratives when they are incarcerated..
On October 8, 2019, the Trump administration asked the United States Supreme Court to hear arguments on whether LGBTQ+ workers deserve workplace protections. The legal arguments they wielded in court and have been quietly implementing across the administration, are a direct threat to our livelihoods, our health, and our income. From increased targeting of sex workers with SESTA/FOSTA legislation to stripping communities of health care and civil rights protections, structural barriers are being put into place that will only further deny the humanity of those seeking those services. If the Supreme Court decides that TGNC individuals are not covered by the language in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an act that prevents sex-based discrimination, how many more will turn to potentially dangerous, criminalized, or otherwise targeted sources of income like sex work? Those who turn to alternative employment opportunities often face this unnecessary danger, simply to put bread on their families' table. As residents of St. Louis, there is a high chance they will end up targeted by law enforcement, charged and sentenced to time in the Medium Security Institution locally known as the Workhouse.
The 50+-year-old building has been the subject of many protests and lawsuits due to its dangerous conditions, which have gone mostly unaddressed by local authorities (St. Louis Public Radio). Given these health hazards, being held in this environment is potentially more life-threatening than the policed activity that leads to being behind these Workhouse walls. No one deserves to be unjustly criminalized, only to then have to endure these hellish, inhumane conditions.
Disproportionately trans people experience the normalizing of their harassment outside of prison - this is only dangerously heightened when they are incarcerated. Incarcerated trans people endure violence from guards, other inmates, and otherwise unimaginable and daily dehumanization. Inside the Workhouse, there are 8X as many black detainees as white (https://www.closetheworkhouse.org). Trans, queer, and especially Black trans people belong to at-risk groups that are often overrepresented in prison populations. A call to #ClosetheWorkhouse is a call to end the mass incarceration of these groups. We need to push the city to close the workhouse because they aren’t properly placing trans inmates with liked individuals and because of the poor conditions: From mold growing inside, to mice, and other hazardous things that could kill or compromise the health of their staff and the inmates that live there, there is no reason for this facility to stay open.
We demand that the city closes the Medium Security Institution, aka the Workhouse, and puts an end to the unnecessary incarceration of pretrial detainees who are blocked from freedom because of their race and class. In solidarity with the #ClosetheWorkhouse campaign, we are calling on Mayor Lyda Krewson to direct & Alderman to legislate the closure of this unnecessary and violatory facility. For more information on this local campaign, visit closetheworkhouse.org.