39-year-old Jessica Hicklin is serving a life sentence at the Potosi Correctional Center for fatally shooting a man when she was 16. She had turned to drug use to cope with the psychological pain she suffered, because she knew from a very young age that she was supposed to be a girl.
From the correctional center, she explained, “I have two prisons. I have the one I’m in because of bad choices I made in my life as a teenager. And then I have the one I was born into. For me, the one I was born into is so much more closer. So much more imprisoning and oppressive.”
Hicklin tried therapy and antidepressants in jail, but it wasn’t enough for her depression and thoughts of self-harm. So, in 2015, she began her transition and legally changed her name to Jessica. Two years later, she worked with trans rights lawyers to fight for her right to a physical transition and challenge the Missouri prison system’s refusal to treat inmates with gender dysphoria if they were not getting treatment prior to incarceration.
The Federal District Court eventually ruled to provide Hicklin with the treatment. She’ll now be able to receive hormone therapy, gender-affirming personal items and will eventually get permanent body hair removal.
“It was like, I was in the middle of the ocean drowning and then I saw the boat on the horizon coming to save me. So, it very much felt like I’ve been saved,” she explained.