Support Incarcerated Indianapolis Trans Leader Zaniya James!

By IDOC Watch

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Zaniya James is black trans woman, loved one and friend of many in Greater Indianapolis, and co-founding organizer of LATE Project, an advocacy organization created for and led by trans women of color.

She is currently imprisoned in Hamilton County Jail and seeking support from people around the country concerned about the issue of incarceration and the well-being of trans people to help her sustain through the remainder of her incarceration.

Zaniya needs your support! She wrote this message, so that people could better understand what she's going through:

Being true to yourself in a place like jail almost puts a target on your back for other inmates and staff. We are singled out and not given the same advantages as others. For example, they try to keep me as de-feminized as possible, enforcing rules for me that they don’t for others. If I wanted to be in a room with a heterosexual person, that would be approved, but if I try to room with someone who is openly LGBTQ, even if that person is a friend, family member, or my partner, I would be denied. If a staff member has an issue with me being trans, they have no problem calling me every other pronoun I don’t identify with. The jail doesn’t have social workers or anyone for us to talk to that can help with the mental distress that we go through in this jail.

Being in a relationship is hard when one of the partners is locked up, but even hard when they both are. My fiancé and I were just feet away from each other and couldn’t talk to each other, hug, or even just be there for each other. The only comfort in we got is knowing we were both safe in the same facility. My partner and I are each other’s support system and haven’t been apart from each other for more than a few months until now. On March 8, 2019, he was sentenced to 8 years for a minor community corrections violation.

A lot of people have reached out to me and given me love and support and one question I constantly get asked is how can people help support me?

I always say writing, pictures, or sending information about grants for the LATE Project. But my new answer to that question includes sending support to my partner, too. I need help in showing him and others like us that we’re not alone. His fight is my fight is our fight.*

I appreciate everything everyone has done for me.


Things like commissary items (hygiene and hair products), phone calls, online/in-person visits, and medications ($15 per monthly prescription), and the costs of simply sustaining on the inside pile up quickly and frequently. Material support helps to offset those costs. Zaniya's close friends have been doing their best to keep up with these costs but the expense is unsustainable.

If you’d like to send Zaniya a letter by snail mail, please do! She is incarcerated under a previous name shared in confidence and with her consent that must be listed on any correspondence:

James Watson #150147
18100 Cumberland Road
Noblesville, IN 46060

You can also send her messages online through the portal using her booking number: 2018-00005005


*We will be working on raising support for Zaniya's partner soon, please be on the look-out!

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Team Members

Nicholas Greven

Elle Roberts

Rand Warden