RALEIGH - Following months of negotiation and pressure from the community, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety today announced that it plans to transfer Kanautica Zayre-Brown to a women’s facility by August 22. Zayre-Brown, a woman who is transgender, has been incarcerated in North Carolina men’s facilities for more than a year, in violation of federal law, which for decades has recognized the particular vulnerability of women who are transgender in men’s prisons.
“I feel good that there is a plan in place, but I will feel much better when my transfer is finalized,” said Kanautica Zayre-Brown. “My mental health is still depleting, and I would have broken a long time ago if it weren’t for the community behind me. They give me the strength to keep going.”
The ACLU of North Carolina is representing Zayre-Brown.
“We are relieved that there is a date by which Ms. Zayre-Brown will be transferred to a prison for women, but this isn’t over,” said Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney for the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project. “Each day that Kanautica is held in a men’s facility is a day that her constitutional rights are violated and her health compromised. We will stay vigilant until she is transferred and then for the rest of her sentence until she is released. So many trans women across the country—particularly Black trans women—are funneled into the criminal legal system where they face severe risk of harm once incarcerated. Our community is under attack and we are working to minimize that violence.”
“We’re glad that DPS finally agrees that, as a woman, Kanautica belongs in a women’s facility,” said Sneha Shah, Staff Attorney, ACLU of North Carolina. “It should never have taken this long for officials to recognize that Kanautica’s health, safety, and dignity are all jeopardized by keeping her in a men’s facility. We will keep fighting to make sure that she is transferred to a women’s facility as soon as possible.”
The ACLU sent officials a letter on March 4 demanding Zayre-Brown’s transfer.