Media Contact

Molly Rivera, ACLU of North Carolina, 919-438-0492 or mrivera@acluofnc.org
Mike Meno, ACLU of North Carolina, 919-348-9623 or mmeno@acluofnc.org

August 15, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. — The N.C. Department of Public Safety today transferred Kanautica Zayre-Brown to a women’s facility following months of negotiation with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and pressure from community members. Ms. Zayre-Brown, a woman who is transgender, had been incarcerated in North Carolina men’s facilities for almost two years, in violation of federal law, which has for decades recognized the particular vulnerability of transgender women who are placed in men’s facilities.

Ms. Zayre-Brown is being held at Anson Correctional Institution in Polkton, N.C.

“I am just so happy and feel so much better,” said Kanautica Zayre-Brown. “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 ACLU represented Zayre-Brown and sent officials a letter on March 4, 2019, demanding her immediate transfer.

“This victory is thanks to the tireless work of transgender advocates in North Carolina, including Kanautica herself, who spoke up to keep the government accountable,” said Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney for the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. “While an important and life-saving change to Kanautica’s circumstances, many transgender people in custody remain in dire and dangerous conditions even when housed in a facility that matches their sex. Beyond detention, transgender people, particularly trans women of color, face widespread discrimination in employment, housing, education and health care that not only funnel them into prison but also make them particularly vulnerable to violence and negative health outcomes. We will continue to fight every day for justice for all trans people."

“Kanautica has fiercely advocated for her safety, health, and dignity throughout this traumatic experience, and we are relieved that she will no longer be subjected to the daily humiliation, fear, and exposure she endured while forced to live in a men’s prison,” said Sneha Shah, Staff Attorney at the ACLU of North Carolina. “It never should have taken the state this long to take action in her case, but we are 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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