A transgender woman remains incarcerated in an all-male Texas prison, despite allegations of being repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted. Passion Star has served 13 years of a 20-year sentence for “aggravated kidnapping”, after her boyfriend at the time refused to return a car to a dealership the pair were test-driving, instead driving for several hours with the car salesman in the passenger seat.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied the 32-year-old parole last month, despite a transgender co-defendant being released two years ago, reports Metro.
Star is now appealing to have the decision overturned.
During her incarceration, Star claims to have “been raped, forced to submit to undesired sexual acts to escape violence, and/or threatened with sexual assault”.
“In the state of Texas, in the general population, there is a culture where gay men and transgender women in prison are basically preyed on by the stronger inmates,” she said.
“They have to be the property of a person who’s in a gang, and this person is the individual who speaks for them. So basically, they’re coerced into being sexually active to survive.”
Star’s legal representation, Lambda Legal, said her case illustrates “the injustice that runs throughout the criminal system”, and have continued to pursue legal action on her behalf.
“Somebody, somehow, needs to shed light on what is taking place here in Texas prisons,” said Star in a statement on Lambda Legal’s website.
“Officials get away with so much and disregard so many legitimate threats to people’s safety, and it needs to stop somewhere.
“I fight for my life everyday in here. Safety from rape and assault is not a privilege. It’s a right, and I hope that this assault will help make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported 24.1% of transgender inmates said they had been sexually victimized by another inmate, and 16.7% said they had been sexually victimized by prison facility staff.
Last month, Attitude reported a petition attracting tens of thousands of signatures saw British transgender inmate Tara Hudson moved from a Category B Bristol men’s prison to an all-women correctional facility amid growing concerns for her safety.