Yesterday, Laverne Cox, a trans actor on the new hit series “Orange is the New Black,” joined a panel on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show to discuss issues faced by transgender people in incarceration. Cox is the first trans actor of color to play a trans character of color.
On “Orange is the New Black,” Cox’s character, Sophia Burset, faces a medical problem all too common among transgender people in prison: losing access to hormones. On the MHP Show, Laverne Cox describes the health consequences of being cut off from this basic medical care.
Despite this struggle in Burset’s story line, she is markedly safer than most transgender women in the U.S. prison and jail system. On the MHP Show segment, Cox points out that transgender women are rarely housed in women’s facilities, or are placed in prolonged solitary confinement. Medical experts agree that solitary confinement contributes to severe physical and mental health problems.
In addition to trans issues, the segment goes on to address problems around sexual abuse and mental health. Fortunately, with the release of the Prison Rape Elimination Act regulations, corrections officers have clear guidelines to end practices that marginalize transgender people in prison, and hold accountable prison and jail authorities who don’t adhere to these guidelines.
Watch the MHP Show interview here.