Dee Farmer headshot.
Photo by Bill Healy

Dee Farmer

Creative Nonfiction Writer, Poet

2024 Fellow


Dee Farmer (she/her) is a creative nonfiction writer and poet, and a Baltimore native. Farmer spent decades behind bars where she became a prolific jailhouse lawyer. She developed a legal writing practice, via hundreds of court briefs and complaints, that centered on telling the stories of the deprivations that inmates endure and how the law should protect them.

Farmer is the first transgender petitioner to have a case accepted by the United States Supreme Court. The 1994, unanimous Farmer v. Brennan decision established that prisoners have a right to be protected from harm, and that prisons are responsible for their safety. Farmer v. Brennan remains often cited by thousands of courts and was foundational to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.

While incarcerated, she was a regular contributor to prison newsletters and journals. Her early published essays and poetry detailed the experiences and treatment of incarcerated persons with HIV/AIDS. Released in 2020, Farmer is the executive director of the Fight4Justice Project, a nonprofit fighting for currently and formerly incarcerated people, especially those who are LGBTQ. Farmer is a graduate of a paralegal program at Georgetown School of Law and is co-authoring an essay, “Thirty-years after Farmer v. Brennan.”