© Richard Ross
I never thought I’d see a trans prison guard. I didn’t think transgender persons worked in the corrections industry and — given the culture of prisons — I did not expect that a trans person would ever want to.
However, she exists and her name is Mandi Camille Hauwert.
The Marshall Project continues to uncover surprising and new angles on this nation’s prisons. Their profile of Hauwert Call Me Mandi: The Life of a Transgender Corrections Officer is no exception. It is a story with which Richard Ross, a well-traveled photographer of prisons, approached them. Alongside the photographs are Ross’ own words.
Hauwert began work at San Quentin as a male, but transitioned in the job and has been taking hormones for 3 years. She faces hostility from fellow staff.
It’s worth noting how dangerous prison systems are to transgender folk. A few weeks back, I attended Bringing To Light a conference in San Francisco, at which I learnt the routine brutalisation of LGBQIT persons at the hands of the prison system — threats of rape, the use of solitary “for protection” and all its associated deprivations, the denial of prescribed hormones, and many other daily humiliations.
Janetta Johnson spoke about surviving a 3-year federal sentence in a men’s prison. She and her colleagues at the Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) now help trans folk deal with trauma and reentry following release.
Unwittingly and without buy-in, transgender prisoners swiftly expose the oppressive logic and total inflexibility of the prison industrial complex. Follow TGIJP‘s work and that of the other organisations that presented at Bringing To Light. Their work often goes unrecognised in the larger fight for reforms and abolition, but it precisely the prisons’ adherence to patriarchy and outdated constructs of gender that establishes the tension and abuses.
Ross’ Call Me Mandi: The Life of a Transgender Corrections Officer is a brief but illuminating feature. Read it.