Travis County Jail Transgender Ready
November 19, 2016 Lisa Gene Cox
A transgender activist has declared Travis County Jail to be transgender friendly and ready.
On November 2 of this year, I had a significant misunderstanding with a security guard, whom I have known a while, with a background of misunderstandings at a bus stop in front of a shopping center owned by HEB at Oltorf and Congress in South Austin, Texas. This disagreement landed me in jail for criminal trespass.
What concerned me the worst about going to jail was that I was obviously transgender, and jails are not known for ‘guests’ who are polite and open minded. I felt that I would be in great danger, and locked up with a lot of male robbers, sexual predators, drug dealers, you name it. None of them outstanding citizens of Austin Texas. “A guy with a first name Lisa and wearing red nail polish and toe polish, and has boobs! I have an idea.”
When I arrived at the Travis County Correctional Complex, run by the Travis County Sheriff Department and also known as Travis County Jail, I was shaking and crying. During my initial search, they asked if I wanted to be housed with the males or females. I said “females of course.” Then they had a female correctional officer take me to a room, take my clothes and look for things that you were not born with. Then I was given jail clothing (you will not find whem in Cosmopolitan magazine.) Then they had me sign a document that I wanted to be housed with the females.
Next I was taken to a nurse for screening. She saw the predicament and screened me not only for medical issues but transgender issues as well being what surgeries have I had done and my HRT, or Hormone Replacement Therapy, both I which I have been going through for years. I looked female (pretty much, considering I am 57 years old), and had boobs. She did her best to assess me to be placed with the females. I have read that this is the norm in Harris County, but as far as I knew it had never been done in Travis County, but I could be wrong. She told me not to take it personal against my gender but they would put me in isolation for a while and scratch their heads concerning classifying me.
Next a counselor visited me and filled out a “Transgender Review Board” document. Apparently, each transgender claim is studied by a board which they have set up. I so approve of that. Then I was placed in a lonely little cell for two days to await the outcome. I can see the problem. If they housed me with the males, it could lead to the greatest problems. And if they housed me with the females, it could lead to the greatest complaining.
Then someone visited me who was obviously a higher up and could make the decision. This is what he offered me. House me with the male kitchen workers. They don’t put up with problems in that area, and the guys would be probably the least problem. There were two men cells, but they gave me my own cell, and instructed the guards in that area to “Take care of her. DO NOT LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO HER.”
This worked out great. As a transgender woman and transgender activist, I applaud the handling of this difficult situation by the Travis County Sheriff Department Correctional officers and those who directed them. I left a week after being locked up feeling cared for, and no one was uncomfortable.
Lisa Gene Cox
Transgender Activist, Author