A transgender woman in Idaho says
police mistreated her and another transgender woman while in jail,
reports the Times-News.
Twenty-six-year-old Antonia Lara, who
briefly shared a prison cell with Majid Kolestani, a 43-year-old
transsexual Iranian refugee accused of murder, has charged the Twin
Falls County Jail with mistreatment of transgender people.
The pair shared a prison cell for about
a week when Lara was arrested in February for providing false
information to police.
Lara and Kolestani, both pre-opt
transgender women, were identified as men by their jailers and placed
in a cell separate from the general prison population. Lara says
jail officials were disrespectful.
“They were making comments the whole
time, bringing people by the window so they could laugh at me like I
was some freak show,” Lara told the paper. “These people are the
people who are supposed to serve and protect.”
Kolestani is being held in the lockup
while she waits to be tried for the first-degree murder of
29-year-old Ehsan Velayati Kababian, also an Iranian refugee.
Kababian died from a bullet to the head
while in a parked car near the Twin Falls apartment the pair shared.
Police, who found Kolestani in the apartment suffering from a gunshot
wound, allege she is the murderer.
Lara says jail officials have denied
Kolestani hormone treatments, a regimen she's taken for over five
years, for months and have refused to provide her a bra.
“We treat them [transgender inmates]
as they need to be treated, and we offer them the kind of treatment
that is needed by law,” Jail Administrator Capt. Douglas Hughes
Kolestani, who Lara says completely
self-identifies as a woman, is despondent over the loss of Kababian.
Lara says she eats little, prays often, and cries frequently.
“She called him [Kababian] her
husband,” Lara, who does not believe Kolestani is a murderer, said.
Defense attorneys unsuccessfully
attempted to move Kolestani's trial to another county due to
publicity surrounding the case.
Lara said the county suffers from
transgender bias, which would make it difficult for Kolestani to have
a fair trial.
“Whether Idaho wants to face it or
not, we're here,” Lara said. “I think gender's a sensitive
issue. When you're challenging someone's definition of normal, they
get scared, and fear nurtures ignorance.”