Occasionally, as part of the talks that i give, I get asked what we do as part of the Beaumont Trust Trans prisoners project that i run.
As you’ll probably expect, i can’t go into specifics of prisoner details, but i thought I’d share with you some general details about what a visit is like.
Using the Prisoner Voicemail system, prisoners will usually reach out to us regularly asking for help, information, or maybe just as someone to listen to their general routine and progress on classes or rehabilitation programmes they are working on. We can then listen to these messages and respond to them, keeping an exchange of info going between the prisoner and Trust, which on it’s own might not seem like much, but, when you’re inside and abandoned by your family and subject to abuse, can make a real powerful difference.
About once a month, prisoners will reach out for an arranged visit. Usually on a weekend, when there isn’t much going on, or when it’s mutually convenient. At this point I’ll ring the prison to let them know I’m coming (experience shows this is a good idea) and then arrange the specifics of any visits. Some of those I’ve done up until now have been
Pride and scene updates
Talking about each in turn briefly
Makeovers. In these sessions, (which require a lot of pre planning and willingness from the prison director) I’ll take in a range of samples and sponges and makeover a prisoner, while other transwomen look through the makeup and any books i bring in while they’re waiting. We’ll then chat about looks they may want to try the next time I come visit. It’s a pretty fraught hour and hard work !!!
Training. Sometimes the prisoner will want to arrange training for the staff of the prison as part of a coaching or mentoring activity. These visits tend to be a lot more straightforward than any sessions which require you to bring in physical items and usually take the form of a TED talk around a table with whatever officers are able to attend.
Book ReadingWhere we do book readings ill being in a number of copies of a book and, w we’ll take roles and sit around a table, acting out the story. These are great fun, as the inmates get to express themselves, practice their feminine voices and thespian skills.
It’s great fun and quite a scene. (I wholeheartedly apologise to some of the authors we might have offended !!)
Meditation classes help with improving prisoners mental health. Something which is particularly important for trans prisoners who will often experience feelings of isolation and abuse while inside. Reactions to these conditions vary, but will usually include self harm, or violence against others and in the worst cases attempts of suicide.
On top of these activities, I also try to collect magazines to send in to prisoners, particularly trans magazines like Transliving, which help inform prisoners of the trans scene outside of their prison and help make them feel part of something. We’ve also historically sent in clothes, by special arrangement, but this is type of activity is reducing because many prisons are now actively preventing this.
Would you like to be involved in this ? Maybe you have an idea of somethig you would like to share that would help us improve the lives of transwomen in prison ? I’d love to hear from you ! Drop me a message with your details and I’ll be happy to get in touch.