Autumn Sandeen, a navy veteran and prominent transgender activist, joined HuffPost Live on Aug. 23 to discuss her time in jail and the treatment she received from corrections officers.
Sandeen was arrested twice for handcuffing herself to the White House fence in protest of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" prior to the repeal of the controversial U.S. military legislation. Her experiences while incarcerated seem to point to the larger issue of how transgender individuals are treated in jail.
"The D.C. policy for how they deal with trans people includes calling us impersonators," said Sandeen. "And then once I got into the main block over at the D.C. jailhouse that was underneath the courthouse, I was called by a federal marshal an 'it' and a 'shim.' So, the corrections officers don't feel any kind of -- nobody is going to do anything to them if they mistreat a transgender person."
Five other veterans allowed themselves to be arrested with Sandeen in order to make sure the activist wasn't mistreated or sexually assaulted while in the custody of law enforcement officials.
The complex set of struggles and identity regulation that trans people experience while incarcerated is an issue that has generated a lot of media attention as of late, particularly surrounding the popularity of the Netflix original series "Orange Is The New Black" starring transgender actress Laverne Cox. The 35-year sentence of Chelsea Manning and her announcement that she now identifies as a woman has also brought the conversation of trans identity and the institutionalized regulation of trans bodies within prisons into the national spotlight.
Watch Sandeen discuss her experiences above -- what types of changes do you think need to occur in order to ensure the safety of transgender people while incarcerated?