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Artwork by John W. Zenc

Having been in prison for the past 45 years, I have witnessed how people in prison haze and make fun of the transgender women. Many prison staff also make ugly comments to them. They do this out of pure ignorance, and in some cases, pure hate.

The transgender inmates are really hurt. They cry. They vent. But it continues all the time. Many of them only want peace in their lives and be able to complete their transition physically to reflect the person they are.

Over the years, I have seen gentle people go into deep depression and, in one case, commit suicide.

The staff and fellow inmates need to be taught more about how to treat people because in order to become a better person, one needs to show love, care, and understanding for our fellow human beings. Compassion is the key to this. The prison system needs to train the staff in sensitivity.

They also need to train the residents on sensitivity because nearly all inmates will one day be released back into society. Wouldn’t it be nice to see these inmates paroled with a better attitude than when they came to prison?

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

John W. Zenc is a writer, artist, activist and an advocate for better prison conditions. He hopes that people will understand what prison is like through his work. John has been incarcerated in California for more than four decades since he was 20 years old. His work can be found at