Transgender inmate Passion Star’s 14 years incarcerated in Texas prisons being raped, beaten and ignored will soon be coming to an end.
Fourteen years ago her boyfriend stole a car while on a test drive. With Passion in the back seat, they drove forty miles before releasing the car salesman roadside earning her a 20-year sentence. Her boyfriend has since been paroled but Passion’s refusal to be silenced might have led to her later release.
In the six male facilities where Passion Star has been housed, male inmates have identified her as feminine, and she has been raped, forced to submit to undesired sexual acts to escape violence, and/or threatened with sexual assault. She has filed dozens of grievances, complaints and requests to be placed in safekeeping, but instead of taking measures to protect her, TDCJ officials have told her to “suck dick,” “fight” or to stop “acting gay” if she does not want to be assaulted. Even after horrific attacks, prison officials refuse to move Ms. Star to safekeeping to protect her from violence and retaliation in the general population
“Somebody, somehow, needs to shed light on what is taking place here in Texas prisons,” Ms. Star said in a written statement. “TDCJ 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 every day in here. Safety from rape and assault is not a privilege. It’s a right, and I hope that this lawsuit will help make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Towleroad reports that Texas is one of a handful of states that originally refused to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, and is home to five of the 10 facilities with the highest rates of prison rape in the country. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry called PREA “ill-conceived” and decided to pass up funding that the U.S. Department of Justice had earmarked for the prevention of sexual assault in detention facilities.
A year later Tx Governor Greg Abbott in May 2015 announced that Texas would comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act “as much as possible” very possibly as a result of Passion Star’s lawsuit.
The Texas Tribune reports that in March 2015, after years of being transferred multiple times to different prisons, Star was placed in secure housing, also called safekeeping, in the state prison system’s Telford Unit in New Boston, something she had been requesting for years.
In November of 2015, both sides told the court they were negotiating a possible settlement to Star’s federal lawsuit.