Today, after months of negotiation and pressure from the community, North Carolina prison officials moved Kanautica Zayre-Brown, a woman who is transgender, to a women’s facility. Kanautica was held in a men’s prison for nearly two years, in violation of federal law and at great risk to her safety and wellbeing. In March, we sent officials a letter demanding that Kanautica be transferred to a facility for women.

Today’s news is an important victory for Kanautica and for the community that rallied behind her. When I spoke to her today, she wanted me to pass on this message:

“I am just so happy and feel so much better. I don’t feel like I’m in a monstrous cage anymore. I feel safe. I want to thank my community for their support and DPS for coming through with their promise. Now I can look forward to being able to receive the medical services I need.”


The unfortunate reality is that so many trans women across the country—particularly Black trans women—continue to be disproportionately funneled into the criminal legal system where they are often placed in men’s facilities and face severe risk of harm once incarcerated.

For Kanautica and many other women who are trans, being in a men’s prison means being subject to daily humiliation and fear. It should have never taken the state this long to take action on her case, but we’re hopeful that Kanautica’s fight can help pave the way for other people who are transgender and incarcerated in North Carolina.
 

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