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Wellness Within’s statement on the open letter to the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Wellness Within: An Organization for Health and Justice recognizes and supports all incarcerated and criminalized women, including trans and cis women, and all gender-diverse people.

We welcome and support the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) policy shift in the last few years to be trans-inclusive and we cannot let this work go anywhere but forward. We recognize that several of the women who wrote a recent Open Letter to CAEFS share that they are formerly incarcerated, and we honour their experience and pain. We do not support their discriminatory comments about incarcerated trans women, nor their assumptions about who speaks for incarcerated and criminalized women, or their calls for the creation of new prisons for trans people.

Our advocacy for people within prisons must recognize that transphobia is embedded in the Canadian criminal justice system – and sadly across our communities – and is a human rights issue that manifests itself in targeted violence and health inequities.

We invite more organizations supporting criminalized people to envision and work towards a world without prisons, a world that does not allow the expansion of prison systems to further isolate and enact harm, and a world where we see people rooted in their communities towards real safety.

Signed

Martha Paynter RN PhD(c), Chair

And the Board of Directors of Wellness Within

June 7, 2021

See also: Selection of prison based on gender identity a victory, but alternatives to incarceration still needed, says advocate

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