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Justin Plamondon is a transgender woman locked up in the Secure Psychiatric Unit of the State Prison for Men in Concord and she is not alone in the prison system. There are 10 other transgender women who were also born male but identify as women incarcerated with men in Concord and one in the Berlin prison.
Plamondon takes female hormones, identifies as a woman, wears a bra and panties beneath her prison uniform, and does her eye make-up with colored pencils. Plamondon, 31, her face and body adorned with skull, faces and cherry blossom tattoos that she mostly inked herself, does the best she can to rid herself of the unwanted facial hair that came in adulthood because she was born male.
Prison is dangerous for people like her, Plamondon said during a recent interview at the Secure Psychiatric Unit. She said she was raped by another inmate in a different unit in November, suffered acute shock and is disappointed that the prison investigation has stalled.
“I was molested as a kid so as soon as something overtly sexual and violent happens around me, I shut down so he was able to do whatever he wanted to do,” said Plamondon.
She had reported to a guard earlier that she was uncomfortable around the inmate after coming out to him about her sexual identity. But it was too late, Plamondon said, and she was raped that night. She said she has had consensual sex in prison, but this was rape and she had evidence. “There was blood in my underpants,” Plamondon said.
“He refused to talk to the investigation so they said it was unsubstantiated. They said something definitely happened. It was not unfounded, but they can’t move any further with the investigation,” Plamondon said. She hopes to find an attorney to help her.
“I’ve been girlie since I can remember. I always felt something wrong with me gender-wise. Now that I’m out about the whole transgender thing, I feel better that I don’t have to hide anymore,” Plamondon said.
The downside is the treatment in prison. “They tell the guards to call us misses and maam,” she said.
But the male inmates can see her bra through her shirt and they now look at her as a woman, Plamondon said. “It makes me feel like a piece of meat. They say you’re a girl now. You can wear bras and panties and we’re giving you hormones now.
“But a male officer, we’re going to have him strip you out,” Plamondon said.
Plamondon is serving 3 ½ to 7 years for burglary and is eligible for parole in December, according to Jeff Lyons, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. Plamondon said her run-ins with the law started when she was a teen. Much of the time from age 13 to 17, she spent in the Youth Detention Center in Manchester for an arson Plamondon insists was accidental.
About InDepthNH: Nancy West founded the nonprofit New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism in April. West is the executive editor of the center’s investigative news website, InDepthNH.org. West has won many awards for investigative reporting during her 30 years at the New Hampshire Union Leader. She has taught investigative journalism at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting’s summer program for pre-college students at Boston University. West is passionate about government transparency. The New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism is a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, formerly called Investigative News Network, which is also InDepthNH.org’s fiscal sponsor. Click here to read about INN to learn more about the mission of nonprofit news.