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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

#justiceforjane movement ongoing

“A lot of times state agencies just don’t know how to handle transgender people, so they do the easiest thing and put them away where they don’t have to deal with them,” said senior Madeline Putney, who identifies as a transgender woman.

In an ongoing case in Connecticut, a 16-year-old transgender girl has repeatedly suffered mistreatment while in the care of the government.

The teenager, called Jane Doe to protect her identity, gained public attention in April when the Connecticut Department of Children and Families placed her in solitary confinement in an adult prison for women without criminal charges.

She had caused trouble when under the care of the DCF in previous locations, including group homes and correctional facilities.

She has suffered abuse in the past, resulting in mental health problems and behavior issues, according to her attorney. Due to her lashing out, the DCF deemed they could no longer handle her care and passed her off to the prison.

After a month there, Doe wrote a letter to the governor of Connecticut.

“I feel forgotten and thrown away … This is the way my life has been going since I was a little kid,” wrote Doe.

After 77 days she was released from prison and sent to a girls’ facility, but her problems did not end. An altercation involving three other girls led her to be moved yet again to isolation in a boys’ facility. Doe ran away from this facility in

September, but officials found her mere hours later.

Doe’s plight has led to a campaign on her behalf known as #justiceforjane. While she was in prison, a petition for her release gained 20,000 signatures.

Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union staff lawyer and founding member of the Lorena Borjas Community Fund to assist LGBTQA people, visited Doe when she was in prison.

“I walked into a room and there was Jane,” wrote Strangio in an article for the Huffington Post Blog. “With a smile and so much life; she wanted to engage. Her gratitude for the support was palpable and her ask of us was simple: tell people thank you and get me out of here.”

Jane’s case is not so out of the ordinary. For transgender people in the care of government agencies, fairness is often evasive.

“It’s pretty much up to each individual institution … because there aren’t any laws governing how the state should treat trans people and respect their gender identity,” said Putney. “There’s no legal recourse for this because they’re doing what they’re technically allowed to do.”

The DCF has for the most part declined to comment on the case, but their attempts to relocate Doe to different facilities show that they are making some effort to act in the 16-year-old’s best interests. In a press release, the DCF defended their continued custody of Doe.

“There is no identified foster home that can reasonably be expected to safely care for this youth,” said the statement.

Those involved with the #justiceforjane movement assert that discrimination has clouded the eyes of the people in charge of Doe’s treatment, and people at Guilford agree.

“(This was allowed to happen) because she’s different, and society in general is scared of what is different and can’t be explained easily,” said first-year Aron Correa, who identifies as genderqueer.

Correa spoke from their own experience with facing discrimination.

“There are people, usually adults, who … don’t want anything to do with me because of the way I address my gender identity,” said Correa.

However, many point out that gender identity is not the only factor.

“The case of Jane Doe further demonstrates how extensive the criminalization of trans women of color is in this country,” said LGBTQQA Coordinator Parker Hurley, who identifies as a transgender man.

The #justiceforjane movement stands behind Doe as her difficult journey continues with live demonstrations and an active presence online. A post on the Justice4Jane Tumblr expresses the movement’s grievance with both Doe’s case and the country’s current system as a whole.

“Jane has become the public face of the glaring truth that the system is unable to care for those who are most in need,” said a post on the tumblr page.

Though the mistreatment of Doe and girls like her continues around the country, the growing resistance is determined to make change.

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About the Contributor
Clare Forrister, Opinion Editor
Clare is a junior majoring in economics and women's, gender & sexuality studies. She has been a part of The Guilfordian since her first semester at Guilford, and her current role is Opinion Editor. She is from Montgomery, Alabama. Once she met Jimmy Carter.

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