Transgender Community Watching Connecticut's Jane Doe Case

Jul 16, 2014

The transgender community has been watching Connecticut and its handling of a 16-year-old transgender girl, who's in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

DCF has now moved the teen known as Jane Doe to the state detention center for boys. The move came after an alleged fight with youth and a staff member at a girls' facility in Middletown.

Susan Bigelow.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Speaking on WNPRs Where We Live, Susan Bigelow, a political columnist for ctnewsjunkie.com and a trangender woman herself, said there appear to be gaps in how Connecticut serves trans youth.

"DCF is flailing around, here, trying to figure out, 'What do we do next?'"
Susan Bigelow

"It seems like throughout this entire case," Bigelow said, "we have seen evidence that they simply don't know what to do with her. There's this sort of intersection of all of these issues surrounding her, the allegations of violent behavior, her gender identity, and they're all coming together. DCF is flailing around, here, trying to figure out 'What do we do next?'"

In late June, DCF moved Jane Doe from York Correctional Institution after spending two months segregrated from the prison population. She was placed at the Middletown facility. DCF said it was temporary because a residential treatment center in Massachusetts had tentatively accepted her.

Now DCF stated that it's waiting on final approval from Massachusetts officials, but Bigelow and others questioned why Connecticut has to send troubled LGBT youth out of state.

Irwin Krieger.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Irwin Krieger, a clinical social worker who serves transgender people and their families, also spoke on Where We Live. "I would say that with the DCF workers that I've worked with," he said, "they have been very strong advocates for transgender youth, but the facilities in the state haven't been there. One glaring problem is we don't have an LGBT group home in Connecticut. The kids I've worked with who needed a group home have had to go to Massachusetts, or there's one in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side."

There's been national attention on Jane's story since April, when a judge approved DCF's request to transfer custody of her to the Department of Corrections. Advocates say that prison is no place for a juvenile who has not been charged with a crime.