A transgender woman inmate in New Jersey has been transferred to a men’s prison after impregnating two women at the state’s only women’s correctional institution, and she was placed on suicide watch at one point.
Demi Minor, 27, had been housed at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, NJ Advance Media reports. The media company had reported in April that two women at the prison had become pregnant through consensual relationships with a trans prisoner, later identified as Minor (the state prohibits even consensual sexual relationships among prisoners). She has now been transferred to a vulnerable inmates’ unit at Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, which houses young adults. Minor is serving a 30-year sentence for manslaughter.
The state had agreed to house most trans prisoners according to their gender identity and to provide gender-affirming care under a settlement it reached in June 2021 with a trans woman who sued. This woman had said she was harassed and assaulted by both staff and fellow inmates when housed with male prisoners. The settlement required the state to keep the policy in place for at least a year. That year is up, but the New Jersey Department of Corrections is continuing to operate under the policy, although it plans to make “minor modifications,” a spokesperson told NJ Advance Media.
It's unclear if Minor was on hormone therapy, which likely would have prevented her from being able to impregnate anyone. A pinned tweet on her Twitter feed mentions treatment being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is two years old. An April post by the administrators of the Justice 4 Demi website notes that she “was surprise transferred to Edna Mahan in 2020 while earnestly requesting hormones and gender-affirming items, things supply chains didn’t exist for in a men’s prison.”
After the pregnancies came to light, Minor and the two other women were placed in some form of solitary confinement, and Minor was told she was a security threat and given notice that she would be transferred, the post states.
“This could mean loss of her access to hormones, gender-affirming items, gender-appropriate housing, and surgery,” the site continues. “To be clear, Edna Mahan has housed pregnant inmates before. Edna Mahan has had inmates caught in romantic relationships before. None of this has ever constituted a security threat.”
In a letter posted on the site in June, Minor wrote that she hanged herself in the van that was transporting her from Edna Mahan to Garden State, and she was placed on suicide watch when she arrived at the latter. She has also said she was beaten during the transfer and that she has been harassed by inmates at Garden State. Additionally, several prisoners at Edna Mahan have accused staffers of sexual abuse and exploitation, NJ Advance Media reports.
Minor has said she is a survivor of abuse in the foster care system. She was placed in the system at age 8 after severe beatings from her birth father. But then she was sexually abused in the home of a foster family. The manslaughter charge “stemmed from an act of misdirected hostility in which she killed her former foster father whom she wrongly blamed at the time for the sexual abuse she suffered while under his care,” according to a bio on the Justice 4 Demi site.
While in prison, she has taken paralegal courses and assisted other inmates with legal matters and helped them receive gender-affirming items, the bio states. “She has also built bridges with numerous elected officials and nonprofits to craft legislation addressing the broken juvenile justice system, the prison system, and the foster care system,” it concludes. “When Demi is freed from incarceration, she intends to take over this organization and devote her life to reforming the juvenile justice system.” Minor will be eligible for parole in 2037.
The Advocate has sought comment from the American Civil Liberties Union and its New Jersey affiliate, which was involved in the settlement regarding trans inmates, and will update the story if a response comes in.
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