Delaware Court stumped over transgender inmate

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Federal court officials in Delaware are trying to figure out where to place an HIV positive transgender inmate sentenced to two years in prison for passing counterfeit checks.

The Associated Press reports that 33-year-old Tanya Bowie of Philadelphia pleaded guilty to passing some 300 counterfeit checks and was released.

She was later caught passing 50 more bad checks.

The real trouble was where to house the transsexual Bowie, who in 1999 underwent half of a sex-change operation in Thailand.

The Delaware News Journal reports that Bowie, 33, of Philadelphia, born Anthony Bowie, appears to be a woman, and Bowie’s attorney, Scott O’Keefe, used the female pronoun when referring to his client. But Bowie still has male genitalia, meaning prison officials classify Bowie as a man.

Her lawyer told the APM that before sentencing, Bowie was held at the Young Correctional Institution with male inmates, but was harassed so much that officials transferred her to solitary confinement at a federal prison in Philadelphia.

“They don’t know what to do with her,” O’Keefe told the News Journal. “I don’t know what to do with her. I don’t know if they have a place for her in the system.”

The Bureau of Prisons told the AP there is no transsexual unit in the federal system.

O’Keefe said Bowie was sent to a federal facility in Philadelphia and kept in solitary confinement.

Though Bowie has pleaded guilty, O’Keefe said, Bowie’s crimes did not warrant

being held in solitary confinement for a long term.

“It is absolutely correct she would not be safe in a male prison population. It is also true that isolation is just not appropriate,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Centre for Transgender Equality, said to the News Journal.

“Accommodations can be made for showers or other places where there may be safety concerns,” Keisling told the News Journal, adding that, generally speaking, a transsexual person like Bowie would not be a threat to female inmates.

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