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Photo by Kyle on Unsplash.

Living as a transgender woman in the Missouri Department of Corrections brings with it many challenges. 

In the Missouri Department of Corrections, transgender women have only had access to gender affirming clothing and hormone therapy since around 2018

The state is still behind more progressive states like California, which gives transgender, non-binary and intersex people the right to be housed in a male or female prison depending on the gender they identify as. We are still sent to male or female prisons based solely on our genitalia.

There is also still much work to be done on such matters as access to permanent hair removal and bottom surgery. 

Being able to receive permanent hair removal via electrolysis and bottom surgery is important because it affirms trans women’s identities as women. While there are some trans women who, for personal reasons, may choose to not have bottom surgery, the lack of the option deprives us of an important part of our transition.

While cisgender women may not require permanent hair removal, trans women oftentimes do because shaving daily can lead to razor bumps. We need it on the face, chest, belly and back. In addition, permanent hair removal is required in at least the genital region prior to bottom surgery. To have no hair in these places would be very affirming. 

When serving time, an important part of preventing recidivism is doing everything you can to improve yourself, both mentally and physically. When someone has gender dysphoria, their physical condition is tied to their mental condition. Whenever we look in the mirror, see a picture of ourselves, shower or use the bathroom, our physical bodies cause anxiety, depression and even anger.

Allowing us to transition completely by receiving permanent hair removal and bottom surgery would help us become the best versions of ourselves we can be. 

While we may be serving time in prison, this does not mean that we should be given a substandard level of care for a diagnosis clearly defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used by mental health professionals nationwide.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Lexie Handling is a transgender writer working on bettering herself, and learning how to crochet (which is not as easy as she first thought). She is incarcerated in Missouri.