Free Forms recently ended TV show the Fosters has always used its platform to talk about social issues. It’s concept of bi racial, lesbian mother’s raising natural, adopted, and foster children was politically charged when it first debuted in 2013. It has dealt with issues from sexual violence, to police brutality, to drug abuse, to the threat of deportation for Hispanic immigrants. The Fosters started show casing trans people and their struggles in the first season with character Cole (played by an actual trans male).
In the final season, the Fosters tackled an issue which few trans allies are aware of. The main character Callie’s on and off boyfriend Aaron is arrested wrongfully as they try to protect children from being picked up by ICE. Aaron is sent to a holding cell with some real tough looking criminals, something that would scare any twenty year old who has never been to jail before. But the stakes are higher for Aaron. He is trans and that puts him in danger.
The federal Bureau of Justice reported that in 2012, forty percent of transgender prisoners reported sexual abuse from other prisoners or guards. This is ten times the rate of non trans prisoners, four percent of whom report sexual abuse.
The government’s solution has been to put transgender prisoners in solitary, for their protection. This is a problematic law, but not always followed. There have been noted cases where even after a trans person’s gender is legally recognized, they are still put in cells with their birth gender. Imagine; your government issued ID says female, and you are placed in cells with men.
Thankfully in the Fosters episode, Aaron is transferred to solitary and released within a day. He escapes unharmed, just shaken. This is not true for most transgender individuals in the prison system today. The Fosters has at least brought it to the attention of allies who did not know this was a battle that needs to be fought.