Lara, who lives in Jerome, said jail officials also made disparaging remarks toward her while booking her.
“They were making comments the whole time, bringing people by the window so they could laugh at me like I was some freak show,” Lara told the Times News. “These people are the people who are supposed to serve and protect.”
Twin Falls County Jail Administrator Capt. Douglas Hughes said the transgender inmates were classified as men when they were taken into custody, and so they were not put in cells with female prisoners. The transgender women were placed in a cell by themselves as a precaution, because in the general jail population “they become preyed on,” Hughes said.
“We treat them as they need to be treated, and we offer them the kind of treatment that is needed by law,” he said.
[. . .]
Kolestani has taken female hormones, but while in jail was denied the treatments for several months, Lara said. Medical staff at the jail are aware of Kolestani’s needs, Hughes said.
As Helen said in her original post, any law which allows the withholding of medication is inherently unjust and in breach of human rights. Indeed, it’s inherently abusive. And in this case, it’s inherently discriminatory.
And that makes me physically ill. It should make all of us physically ill, when our judicial system repeatedly attempts to strip women of their gender identities, openly mocks and belittles them, and denies them medical treatment and other very basic amenities like a bra. It’s absolutely disgusting and should outrage all of us.
And this is even more true once we recognize that the much bigger, overarching problem is that what these two women endured is not an isolated incident or even the worst of the abuses that women in similar situations are subjected to. Trans women are routinely abused in jail and prison. (As, of course, are women of color; another group that both women fall into.) They are physically assaulted and sexually abused. And they are not only regularly falsely identified as male and housed in male prisons; very commonly, they are put in cells with male prisoners who repeatedly rape and otherwise abuse them. Often in addition to police and prison guards who do the same.
If Lara and Kolestani endured these types of abuses in addition to the ones laid out above, they have not apparently said as much. And that means that the horrific abuses they endued are actually, terribly enough, on the relatively lower end of the abuse spectrum. This bears pointing out not because it in any way lessens what was done to Lara and Kolestani, but precisely because it compounds it.
The guilt or innocence of either Lara or Kolestani also makes no difference here. Even if Kolestani was guilty of murdering her husband (it bears stressing that she also suffered a gunshot wound and maintains her innocence), human rights are human rights. And everyone deserves basic medical care and protection from violence, both of which she is not currently receiving.
Antonia Lara certainly has my praise and respect for choosing to speak out about these injustices and violations of human rights. It’s a very brave move on her part. And I wonder when officials across this country, and the ordinary citizens who have the power to pressure them, will begin to listen and take action.
With that in mind, the Twin Falls County Jail seems to be run by the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office. Their contact information is here.