Update: November 15th, 2023
And’s situation has improved thanks to the advocacy of individuals like you! Staff at Solomon Carter Fuller (SCF) Mental Health Center restored And’s access to its electronic devices and have made no further attempts at retaliating against And for its self-advocacy by revoking its privileges in this way. And is likely also no longer under the imminent threat of being discharged to a state-run shelter against its will, which constitutes another victory due to the tendency of shelters to be highly unsafe for transgender people like And.
However, And still needs your help, as it continues to be detained against its will in a forensic ward at SCF even though it has never been accused nor convicted of any crime. Prior to being relocated to this ward, And had filed complaints about it and other patients being subjected to abuse, assault, and transgender discrimination at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital. This transfer is therefore unwarranted and only serves to punish And simply for exercising its right to speak out against the injustice that it has experienced and witnessed as a patient.
Being forced to live in the prison-like conditions of a forensic ward alongside aggressive and transphobic patients who have both verbally and physically assaulted And on several occasions is devastating to And’s well-being. Understandably, And reports not feeling stable enough to be immediately released into a non-clinical setting at this time, so it wishes to pursue appropriate mental health care at a different non-forensic hospital before ultimately being discharged into a group home, as is its right.
In the table below, And has quantified the vast difference in quality between the respective environments of the two different hospitals in Boston where it has recently stayed. These numbers speak for themselves.
|Lemuel Shattuck Hospital
|Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center
For more details about And’s current situation and goals for the future, please scroll down to the third section of this update (directly below the call to action) to read a letter from And in which it addresses MFI’s members and supporters in its own words.
New Call to Action
1. Please call Dr. Amam Saleh (SCF’s Chief Medical Officer of Inpatient Management) at 508-616-2237 and Brooke Doyle (Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s Commissioner) at 617-626-8000 or 617-626-8123. Ask them to relocate And to a different hospital that provides long-term care in a non-forensic setting so that it can adequately stabilize before being discharged.
2. Please voice your concern about And’s situation to Massachusetts legislators Ayanna Pressley, Elizabeth Warren, and Ed Markey by clicking each of their names to access their respective online contact forms. Even just a brief paragraph would suffice. We recommend including And’s full name in the subject line of your message, and mentioning that Representative John Moran and City Councilor Tania Anderson can corroborate And’s story because they have both been working with it since September 2023.
3. Please consider saying hi to And face-to-face via Zoom next Tuesday evening! MFI will be hosting an informal meet-and-greet session in order to give And and its fellow MFI members an opportunity to chat and network with each other (see And’s message below for more information). The details of this event are as follows:
- When: Tuesday, November 21st 2023 from 8:30 to 9:30 PM EST
- Where: Zoom (https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84644159887?pwd=UYvjNUlD6ku0RX5H4BwP4yBHozqtDg.1)
- Meeting ID: 846 4415 9887
- Passcode: 217729
A Personal Message From And
Hi MFI activists and advocates,
I thought it might be meaningful for some of the words for my Shield Alert Update to come directly from me, from my heart, my mind and my body.
Thank you so much to those who took the time and energy to advocate for me by writing letters and making phone calls. It’s really touching to have so many people, strangers most of you, advocate on my behalf.
Your efforts have not been futile. We have made some serious progress on various fronts. I was being threatened, after years of careful discharge planning, to be discharged “as soon as a bed is available” to a shelter run by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). I would have been been forced to wander the streets of Boston for much of the day, surrounded by drugs and crime and constantly under the threat of assault from transphobic individuals as well as facing an elevated risk of suicide and re-institutionalization.
Now DMH is saying that they will not interfere with the normal discharge-planning process, which includes careful group-home placement at a location that I feel will be safe for me!
Also it seems that the MA legislature was not aware that few long-term DMH patients who need gender-affirming healthcare (GAH) do not have access. There seems to be a push to resolve this. This will be lifesaving/life-changing for many DMH transgender and non-binary patients. This may prove to be a BIG deal in the gender non-conforming community of MA.
I received some emails from people that, respectfully, thought I was being defeatist in presuming some of the horrific outcomes I predicted in past writings. Personally I don’t resonate with this label. I think realism is a powerful tool; that it’s vital for creating a foundation from which to build community and change.
In the vein of being very much so a realist-but-not-a-defeatist I have been working hard on both self-care and creating community.
I meditate, journal, and read almost everyday. I pay out-of-pocket to see a psychotherapist. I plan drag shows and dance with wild abandon to African dance workout videos. Dance is my first and deepest love. Butoh dance is my favorite and I plan to study it professionally.
I connect with family and friends regularly and I have dreams for my future. Oh do I have dreams! I’ll share one with you:
I want to start a non-profit that is also an organic farm/respite for minorities that grows medicinal herbs and offers them at sliding scale prices to the public.
One of my dreams was recently realized! After years of planning and 6 months of hard collaborative work I co-founded an LGBT+ ASCA meeting. I have always wanted to create a space safe for LGBT+ people who want to work on processing their childhood abuse and we now have one!! If you or anyone you know has experienced childhood abuse and needs a LGBT+ safe space in which to heal, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, despite these wins I still remain in a state-sponsored, life-threatening, abusive, psychiatric situation. After I publicly raised concerns over abuse I was experience and allegations that Lemuel Shattuck Hospital may bear some responsibility for the death of Jean Busch, a transgender woman, DMH retaliated against me by forcing me, under restraints, illegally, into one of the most acute forensic units they run where I have been assaulted 8 times. I continue to face prison-like conditions, elevated risk of brutal assaults by patients, and an ever increasing risk of self-harm and suicide.
While it may seem counterintuitive, and while I HATE being in hospitals, it is very evident to me that I need to be transferred to a long-term, less acute hospital setting, allowed to stabilize and then discharged to a group home in order to maximize my chances of successfully building a life worth living outside of these walls (and NOT returning).
Please consider advocating on my behalf to get me transferred to a long-term hospital setting as soon as possible. Despite committing no crimes I have endured 7 months of prison-like conditions. I’m at the limit of what I can handle.
I’ve made some solid friendships with people that have come forward to advocate for me from MFI but some people have told me/indicated that my claims seem hard to believe or hard to relate to, so MFI suggested a “meet-and-greet.”
I would love to meet you! I would love to meet the people who have advocated, are advocating, or are considering advocating for me. And I feel like this may prove to be an excellent opportunity to motivate those of us dedicated to ensuring that all psychiatric survivors are treated with dignity and respect to connect and build community as well!
I’ve also been told that this will be an opportunity to help those in the psychiatric survivor community, and our advocates, to better understand challenges surrounding the transgender community and the strategies to help resolve these issues. It can be complex, even for us.
It would be my honor to meet you “in-person” (Zoom) on Tuesday, November 21st at 8:30 PM EST.
Until then and in solidarity,
And Steiner (it/its)
A Note From MFI
MFI would like to remind its members and supporters that our organization has been striving to fulfill three core goals since its inception, one of which is to support the self-determination of psychiatric survivors and mental health care consumers, as stated on our website. Self-determination means the freedom to live as one chooses, or to act or decide without consulting others. In other words, MFI has always advocated for and will continue to advocate for the right of individuals to choose and pursue their own definitions and means of mental wellness, including the acts of voluntarily seeking psychiatric care and/or gender-affirming health care.
MFI would also like to emphasize that our organization stands in solidarity with LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) people, who face stigma and discrimination that make them especially susceptible to both mental health crises as well as abuse by practitioners of mental health care. We encourage those among our members and supporters who may be unfamiliar with the significant intersection between LGBTQ+ rights and human rights in mental health care to consider learning more about this subject, and to join us in advocating for our fellow human beings in the LGBTQ+ community.
Accordingly, for the purpose of education, we have compiled the following list of links to some introductory resources on transgender and non-binary topics that are relevant to And’s case in particular.
- Transgender 101 (University of California)
- Understanding what it means to be nonbinary (Healthline)
- Debunking myths about trans and nonbinary people (University of Washington School of Medicine)
- Benefits of gender-affirming health care (Washington School of Public Health)
- Personal pronouns and why they matter (Human Rights Campaign Foundation)
- Discrimination and abuse faced by LGBTQ+ people in mental health care (Canadian Journal of Psychiatry)
- Issues with the safety of US homeless shelters for trans people (National Coalition for the Homeless, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)
Update: September 21st, 2023
And’s life is still in danger as SCF continues to retaliate against it for its activism.
Instead of heeding the reasonable concerns about And’s safety that so many of you have been voicing to Solomon Carter Fuller Hospital (SCF) via email, SCF staff confiscated And’s electronics today and refuse to return them until And declares it is no longer suicidal.
Notably, such a declaration would allow SCF to discharge And to a DMH shelter. Otherwise it would have to be discharged to a group home with 24/7 staff support as per standard procedure.
This is therefore a blatant attempt to forcibly relocate And to a dangerous environment unsuited for its needs as a transgender patient with acute suicidality, and continues to draw disturbing parallels with Jean Busch’s case.
MFI is truly grateful for everyone’s continued advocacy on And’s behalf. However, the situation unfortunately remains critical since And’s two suicide attempts 11 days ago were triggered by a similar confiscation of its electronics, which deprives it of resources crucial to its wellbeing including music and its online network of support.
Urgent Call to Action
1. Please contact Solomon Carter Fuller Hospital and demand that its staff:
- Immediately return And’s electronic devices and desist from arbitrarily confiscating them again.
- Immediately cancel their plan to discharge And to a DMH shelter and desist from making such plans in the future.
- Transfer And back to Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Floor 9 South. No other locations, for safety reasons.
- Allow And to work with Brittany Blythe from ACCS in planning its discharge without interference from the DMH.
- Honor And’s legal right to get a service dog and have it in the hospital.
2. Please contact Massachusetts lawmakers and demand that the state set up an independent body to investigate all complaints filed by And and Jean.
- ACCS, the case management company that plans discharges for DMH hospitals, says that And needs to be discharged to a group home with 24/7 staff in order to be safe.
- And had two suicide attempts requiring medical attention in the past 10 days.
- And is currently reporting sucidality with a plan and is under direct observation.
- DMH shelters are known to be plagued by drugs and crime.
- DMH shelters are especially dangerous for transgender patients, who experience disproportionately high rates of emotional and physical abuse due to discrimination. Many trans people like Jean have committed suicide in these shelters in the past.
- Despite never having been accused nor convicted of any crime, And is currently in a forensic unit at SCF that does not handle non-criminal cases.
Phone numbers to call
- Dr. Amam Saleh (Chief Medical Officer of Inpatient Management at SCF): 508-616-2237
- Dr. James Cooney (Chief Officer of SCF): 617-626-8796
- Dr. Marco Caicedo (Medical Director of SCF): 617-626-8736
- Representative John Moran (MA Lawmaker): 617-722-2460
- Representative Samantha Montano (MA Lawmaker): 617-722-2460
Email addresses to use
- email@example.com (This address will automatically forward your email to hundreds of recipients including the above personnel, lawmakers, Boston city-council members, and major media contacts.)
Please include the following in your emails:
- And Steiner’s name in the subject header
- A mention of Representative John Moran and Councilor Tania Anderson’s involvement in And’s case
- A link to And’s #JusticeForJean petition (https://change.org/justiceforjean)
- A link to MFI’s webpage for And’s Shield campaign (https://mindfreedom.org/front-page/and-steiner)
Update: September 20th, 2023
And’s life is currently in danger! Please take action ASAP!
Today Dr. Marco Caicedo informed And in an impromptu meeting that it is going to be discharged to a shelter run by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) as soon as a bed is available. A charge nurse later said that this will happen as early as tomorrow morning (Thursday, September 21st EST).
This decision contradicts previous careful planning with Adult Community Clinical Services (ACCS) to discharge And to a staffed group home, which has always been the standard procedure until now. It also mirrors Lemuel Shattuck Hopsital’s discharge of fellow transgender patient Jean Busch to a DMH shelter, where she tragically committed suicide shortly afterward due to its unsafe and unaccommodating living conditions.
And itself is already acutely and actively suicidal, having made two major suicide attempts only 10 days ago at the time of writing, but this clearly does not matter to SCF staff based on their plan to relocate And against its will to a place where it will be subjected to further discrimination, harassment, and assault.
Fortunately, State Representative John Moran and City Councilor Tania Anderson have recently taken action by communicating directly with And and advocating directly to DMH.
However, due to the urgent nature of SCF’s new plan for And, we still need as many people as possible to make phone calls and/or send emails on And’s behalf in order to keep it out of immediate danger. Please act now!
Update: September 14th, 2023
And has thankfully regained access to its electronic devices and would love to hear from you via email! Please reach out to it with words of support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) has said that they won’t discharge And anywhere but a group home, and the group homes are controlled by Adult Community Clinical Services (ACCS) and And’s case worker Brittany Blythe. However, this claim should be met with wariness because the DMH is not legally obligated to honor what they say, and they have broken their word and laws regarding And’s care before.
Update: September 11th, 2023
It was a grim week for Shield member And Steiner, who is still at Solomon Carter Fuller Hospital (SCF) enduring prison-like conditions after attempting suicide twice, both times needing emergency medical attention and the second time requiring sutures over its left wrist.
According to And, the emotional distress of losing its electronic devices on Thursday (the main way that And can connect with outside supporters and listen to its favorite soothing music) as well as access to its notebook (containing all of the phone numbers for its contacts) was the event that triggered the suicide attempts.
Some may ask why the SCF staff confiscated And’s electronic devices. According to And, staff alleged that it had identified a fellow patient in an electronic message that had been widely circulated. While not denying the allegation, And questions why it was not simply given a verbal reprimand as is the case when other patients break a rule.
After returning from the ER, And was later walking around in the open section of the ward, speaking with another patient when a doctor ordered And to go back into its room and used the threat of restraints if it did not comply with the seclusion order. And was calm at the time and had not shown any self-harming behavior for several hours both in the ER and at the ward before the doctor ordered seclusion. It told the doctor that putting it into seclusion after all the trauma it had recently experiencing would cause it to experience flooding (a rapid and persistent reliving of traumatic events) and likely harm itself again.
Regardless, And was violently thrown back into its room upon trying to leave, then impulsively pulled out its sutures and was restrained. And was in severe pain from the restraint and recent medical trauma, so it requested “something stronger than an NSAID” from its doctor. In response, the doctor offered And an NSAID that was already on its medication list with no explanation, nor did he at any time check in with And about its pain levels before or after the restraint.
This incident exposes the punitive nature of SCF’s “treatment” for an attempted suicide survivor, which amounts to forcing a person who had just committed suicidal acts to sit in a small room and stare at its blank walls for 24 hours while enduring emotional distress and physical pain.
Since And cannot reach out to others via email, it welcomes calls, cards, and letters of support, which you can send to the address below: And Steiner 8-East Solomon Carter Fuller Hospital 65 E. Newton St. Boston, MA 02118
Note: SCF has claimed that an unidentified individual threatened their staff with violence over the phone. We urge all Shield members to refrain from using threats or violent language when contacting staff. As a reminder, our mission statement reads:
“In the spirit of mutual cooperation, MindFreedom leads a nonviolent revolution of freedom, equality, truth, and human rights that unites people affected by the mental health system, with movements for justice everywhere.”
Update: August 30th, 2023
And was denied treatment multiple times for a growth in its wrist that the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (MDMH) has known about for over two years. This type of neglect is similar to the neglect that led to the death of Haywood Earl.
Shield Alert for And Steiner: August 27th, 2023
And (pronouns: it/its) is a transgender human rights activist who is facing life-threatening retaliation as a result of calling attention to its own abuses and the abuses of other trans patients in hospitals run by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH).
In 2020 And went to a private hospital, St. Elizabeth’s, in Brighton, Massachusetts following a string of serious suicide attempts. At St. Elizabeth’s, And had two more suicide attempts, and was voluntarily transferred to Lemuel Shattuck Hospital (LSH), Floor 9 South, a DMH-run unit.
At this time, And came out as transgender and began filing complaints about what it saw and experienced. For instance, fellow trans patient Jean Busch (pronouns: she/her) was also experiencing abuse and filing complaints, thereby becoming a legal liability for her providers and LSH. Instead of dealing with the issues that Jean was bringing to their attention, they coerced her into being discharged into unsafe living conditions in which she committed suicide shortly afterward.
When And found out about Jean’s mistreatment and resulting suicide, it created an online petition campaign called Justice for Jean and soon afterward began to experience severe, life-threatening abuse and discrimination. Director Amy Lisser started to target it and transferred it to Floor 10 North, the most acute floor.
“I knew I could lose my sanity, my freedom, even my life. I was so terrified and humiliated and infuriated! I thought about suicide frequently. I think the only reason I made it through was because I finally came out as transgender. And to think this is happening in plain sight to so many transgender patients! So, I chose to fight back! I started writing complaints for every instance of abuse and discrimination I experienced.
I have some choice words for the people that treat me and other transgender patients like this but I will say this much: this has to stop! I am going to fight these atrocities, and I hope you will help me in standing up to protect my life and other transgender patients’ lives. EVERY patient’s life matters!”
Dr. Amam Saleh, the Medical Director of DMH, retaliated against And by forcibly transferring it under restraints to Solomon Carter Fuller Hospital (SCF), a short-term forensic facility unit which never handles non-criminal cases like And’s.
And has been at SCF for 5 months. Since being transferred, And has been assaulted, with injuries, by 6 other patients and has had another suicide attempt. (By comparison, And had no suicide attempts at Lemuel Shattuck and was not assaulted once.)
After And filed 5 complaints at SCF, doctors responded by denying And basic vital medical care including arbitrarily canceling a surgical appointment for a mass growing on its wrist.
Then the doctors issued And a HINN-12 Form, which is essentially a notice to a hospital patient that their hospital is telling Medicare they no longer require medical care at that location anymore. And may be discharged to a “transitional shelter,” which would be highly unsafe—this too is retaliation, similar to how Jean Busch was treated before her death.
At Solomon Carter Fuller, And is being attacked by other patients and denied essential medical care by staff. And talks about the link between this abuse and high suicide rates, saying:
“It’s terrifying to live with. If I remember my numbers correctly, trans individuals are 18 times more likely than the average person to attempt suicide. That number goes up 70% if they’ve been assaulted recently.”
And is still experiencing acute suicidality, but knows what it needs to re-stabilize. Having comprehensive gender-affirming healthcare and access to a therapy dog are both protected under MA law and would both help And immensely. Although Massachusetts passed laws making it a trans “haven” state, the mental health system routinely denies trans patients the gender-affirming care they need.
And says for now it would be safer to transfer back to Lemuel Shattuck, 9 South. And told us:
“The trans community has warned me about every other hospital, and I already know I can stabilize there. More than anything I want to be living independently in the community. However, it is a process to get there.”
And says it’s planning with case worker Brittany Blythe to ultimately find a safe housing placement to discharge to, and needs to be sure it won’t be thrown out into the shelter system before that happens.