[Fox News] Women’s rights ‘forgotten’ in favor of trans inmates, former prisoner speaks out in new docu-series

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Women’s rights have effectively been eliminated in women’s prisons because of transgender inmates, according to a former female prisoner.

On Friday, the Independent Women’s Forum released the first episode of its ongoing docu-series “Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Male Takeover of Women’s Prisons,” which aims to expose the harm caused by housing transgender female inmates, who are biologically male, with women. Jennifer Barela, a former inmate of the Central California Women’s Facility, was the first subject and recounted her experiences with biological males. 

“The transgender inmates started coming, I want to say during COVID. They were just slowly being incorporated into the general population. We’re getting the predators, people who have been incarcerated for rape, men who have been incarcerated for oral copulation, men who have been incarcerated for crimes against women. We were very nervous, angry. We weren’t given a voice,” Barela said.

She remarked, “Our room was the first one to receive a transgender. Nobody was notified. Nobody asked our opinions or thoughts or concerns. What little rights that we did have as inmates have been diminished with the trans men who have come in. We’re forgotten. Women’s rights in a women’s prison do not exist.”

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The documentary noted Barela was forced to share an eight-person cell with transgender inmate Eva Reeves, who was found guilty in 1982 of second-degree murder. At the time, Reeves already had a concerning reputation.

“I’m kind of a tough girl, so I know I could stand my ground, but living in such close quarters with someone of the opposite sex, when we have a shower and the toilet is in the same room and the door is locked at night, it’s a little intimidating not knowing what to expect. But it would be nice to be included in such a drastic change that was happening in the women’s facility at the time,” Barela said.

However, despite voicing concerns, officers told her that their hands “were tied” but offered to move Barela and her fellow female cellmates to a different room, potentially leaving Reeves without having to share. 

“For us, we would love to have a room to ourselves, because every day you’re constantly around people. You have no peace of mind. There’s no solitude in prison. So to be afforded a single cell, people would love to have that. But it was never afforded to the women. It was just to the man,” Barela said.

Though other women are suffering, Barela lamented that many are too afraid to speak out against it.

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“I don’t speak against the trans community in a negative aspect. I speak out today for the women I left behind who don’t have a voice. A lot of the ladies there would love to speak out, but there comes retaliation, fear of the men [and] physical harm, fear of the lawyers, fear of losing their day to come home,” Barela said.

She declared, “They’re taking their voice. They’re taking our rights. And they’re taking our womanhood away from us.” 

In a comment to Fox News Digital, Kelsey Bolar, IWF’s Storytelling Director and co-producer of the series, said, “I don’t know how anyone could watch Jennifer Barela’s story and still claim there is anything virtuous or kind about forcing female inmates to live with men. Barela has no agenda in sharing her story, other than to protect the women she left behind. The women who, like her, are being traumatized and abused by policies that prioritize the feelings of men over the safety and well-being of women.”

She added, “These policies are dangerous, dehumanizing, and wrong. Independent Women’s Forum is grateful that Barela had the courage to be the first in our series to share her story so the public can now understand why.” 

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The full episode is now available for free on the IWF’s YouTube account.

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