Voices from Solitary: Not Captured on Camera

A Searing Account of Life as a Transgender Man in a Texas Prison

by | April 3, 2024

Xandan (Britney Gulley) is a female-to-male trans person and writer who is incarcerated in Texas state prison. Xandan has been held in solitary confinement for over seven years due to his gender identity and as retribution for his published exposés that unveil the inhumane conditions that transgender prisoners face. Some of his articles can be found in the San Francisco Bayview, Texas Letters Project, Southern Cultures Journal, and Prison Insider.

As a 2023 recipient of a Ridgeway Reporting Project grant, Xandan’s latest article, “The Horrific Reality of Transgender Individuals in Texas Prisons,” was published in The Advocate. In it, he writes:

“Daily, I’ve been forced to suppress my being beyond injury, coerced to wear the humiliating ‘dress gowns,’ denied boxers, bullied into wearing panties, refused gender-related hygiene products, forced to shave facial hair with dull razors, and subject to a variety of other sinister and humiliating tactics,” Xandan wrote in his article. “The abuse by staff on all levels carries on with impunity. With no response from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the system makes it straightforward to transgender incarcerated people that we, indeed, are forgotten.”

“In 2020, I was dragged to the showers by two white male officers, beaten and kicked until I was bleeding inside and out, and dumped naked back in my cell. After being denied medical attention for days despite intense pain, I attempted suicide—and was finally sent to a hospital. I was told that the officers involved could not be disciplined because the assault was not captured on camera. Once again, my own voice was ignored and silenced.” (Read the full article here.)

Xandan also shared with Solitary Watch the diary entries below that vividly recount his experience following the brutal 2020 assault.

You can write to Xandan at: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Britney Gulley 01601283, PO Box 660400, Dallas, TX 75266-0400

—Valerie Kiebala

• • • • • • • • • •

June 19, 2020

I just woke up. It’s 4:36 am. I’m not sure what day it is. I can’t remember. I have to look at the wall where a calendar is scratched in the cinderblock with bloody fingernails. The pain in my head is blinding. My vision is blurry. My left eye is swollen shut. I can barely see out of my right eye. I squint at the red lights off the clock. 4:39 am. My lips are twice their normal size. Two, no three of my fingers are broken, bent at an angle. 

All I can remember is being escorted to the showers by two new white male officers. One short, one tall. The short one said, “I really hate trannies,” and the tall one laughed. Next I was on the floor being stamped, kicked while they laughed. I woke up yesterday on my cell floor. Naked! Where are my clothes? Where is all this blood coming from? I lay in a puddle of urine and blood. I cannot walk without getting dizzy. Where are my clothes?

June 20, 2020

I’ve been asking for medical attention all day today and yesterday. No luck. I’ve made a splint for my fingers with a spoon and pen and some torn sheets. I cleaned up most of the blood with my sheets, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I still can’t eat because my lips are swollen. I feel like I’m dying. Where are my clothes? I can’t cry because my eyes hurt so bad.

June 21, 2020

Still no medical treatment. I’m in pain everywhere. There is blood in my urine. I still can’t eat. I can’t take it anymore. I just want to die. Whoever reads this. Please know I’m not a coward trying to take the easy way out with suicide. I just can’t deal with the pain. It’s getting worse! I’ve decided to hang myself. Right after the next security check. That way no one will see or hear me. Yeah. That’s what I’m going to do. Tears won’t fall right now because my eyes are still swollen.

August 12, 2020

My suicide attempt failed. Somehow, someone resuscitated me and rushed me to the hospital where I stayed six days, then I was transported to crisis management for ten days. Now I’m at Skyview prison mental asylum. The hospital doctor was nice. He said I wasn’t raped but I was viciously stamped and kicked in my groin and private area. My fingers were crushed by being stepped on. My orbital something was lacerated, causing a permanent droop. I was questioned about the attack but the investigators say the cameras were malfunctioning that day so the assault was not captured on footage. smh.

Banner photo: Jennifer Whitney for the Texas Tribune.


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1 comment

  • Leslie Gold

    I am indescribably horrified about how you have been harmed. I am sending you loving blessings and pray you continue to find your strength, and I pray you get the legal assistance you so truly deserve so that you may be safe. Please keep writing because that reminds us to keep you in our hearts and minds. Bless you sweet child of the Universe.

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