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Letters to Our Family (February 2016)

Dear family,

Greetings brothers and sisters. This letter is to encourage our brothers and sisters who are hiding who they are. Yes there will be difficult times, but there will also be joy and freedom. I hid who I was for ten years. My best friend asked me “”What’s the worst that could happen?”” I’ll tell you the worst that could happen. People don’t like you. It takes a more emotional toll to hide than to be true to yourself. I developed an ulcer from hiding. My motto is “”Here I am, like me or not, I don’t care!”” Once you let yourself go you can find true happiness and peace. I came out in January of 2013. I came out to my family last year. I’m so much happier since I came out. Surround yourself with other LGBTQ family members. DON’T GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY!! By hiding who you are you give your power away. It took me ten years to get tired of being beat. Once you come out that’s when the hardships really begin. My mom knew I was gay but waited for me to come to her. If you can’t hold your head up high you have nothing. Why should you care what others think and feel towards you? If you’re comfortable in your own skin then it shouldn’t matter. One last thing. No matter what people say or do be true to yourself.

Love,
Bobbie

 

My LGBTQI Family,

Hey everyone! It’s Yasin from Springfield, Vermont. I just wanted to share some wonderful news, but like many LGBTQI family also share some hurtful news. Well, last year I wrote, coming out as being gay, but it wasn’t true. See, I’ve gone thru so much in my life and a lot more in the 9 1/2 years I’ve been locked up, so I was scared. Well, today, to the world outside of these fences, I’m a 1/2 African 1/2 Puerto Rican who is 34-year-old transgender. Yes, I am transgender. Currently, I’m a male (yuk) but when I get out I will hopefully begin the change to be a woman which is what I should have been born as. I’ve told my fiance who is very very happy for me and says he is still in love with me. He’s known for some time now but told me when you come out it’s on your time and not his.

So in coming out here in Vermont, yeah it’s been rough. There are a couple of female CO’s who are proud of me but the rest of the staff yea they’re like, as one CO said to an inmate, it’s a fab thing. Since coming out, I’ve gone through the laughing or ridicule by inmates — who I say f*** you too. Anyways, I’ve gone through two cellmates who I felt comfortable with, and both were moved out of my cell, one shipped to a different jail. I’m not asking to live by myself like to other transgender inmates hopefully they will allow it but we’ll see. Well my family, pray for me.

With love,
Yasin/Jaylyn

 

Dear Black and Pink,

My name is Carrie and I am a transwoman incarcerated in southern Ohio. I am a first time offender and this is my first time in prison.

I had never heard of the prison abolition movement until reading your newspaper. I doubt I would have cared, honestly. Like most people on the outside, I didn’t have a clue what prison was like. I’d never felt the unending hurt that tears at your heart from being away from your family. I’d never been suicidal on a daily basis (if not for my children I would not be here). The humiliation is palpable, as is the misery and hopelessness. I’ve never known people to have to live this way and now I am one of them. Life truly is a daily struggle.

I wrote for a newspaper for twelve years on the outside and I can witness firsthand to the power of the written word. While relationships and the like are fine, we need to focus our attention in this pages to the end of prisons as we know them and better treatment for not just LGBTQ inmates but all of us as a whole. There are many ways that we can start like access to gender-affirming undies and hormone treatment, the decriminalizing of adult relationships–things that are routinely covered in this newspaper. Then we will see progress. In closing, let me encourage open discussions. We are a family. I’m a “”T””; you might be an “”L”” or a “”G.”” I don’t care. We are all friends and should act like it. It is love that makes the world go around.

A friend to all,
Carrie

 

Dear family,

I am currently housed in solitary confinement going on twenty months. Texas is the most homophobic/xenophobic environment I’ve ever lived in. I can imagine its founding fathers turning in their graves when same-sex marriage became legal.

I am a transgender but have not transitioned to male as of yet. I can’t even get the medical department here to assess me for gender dysphoria to even get a hormone therapy. Last year I had to file sexual harassment on an inmate who began harassing me often viewing me naked during a strip search conducted on the outside recreation yard. The ensuing investigation was a travesty of justice and my claim was ruled unsubstantiated due to lack of witnesses. No one in here is going to get involved as a witness so I’ve had to endure the ongoing harassment of this person.

Being gay is hard enough in this prison. others’ perceptions of who they think I should be rarely lines up with who I am. Guards and inmates alike show disdain and often outright hatred towards gay people Those officers who are themselves openly gay offer no support, their loyalty being to the system that signs their paycheck. Too few organizations help people in this state. Texas has a hardline reputation which not many want to tangle with. We are routinely subjected to retaliation tactics by officers which include, but are not limited to, refusal of meals and bogus disciplinary reports.

I would like to acknowledge all Black and Pink family members who may be experiencing like or worse situations. We must ban together to end mass incarcerations and solitary confinement. We must holt the building of more prisons and elect officials with truer insight to the real criminal problem in this country. It is not those of us behind bars.

I love all of you in the LGBQ community. I honor those who have gone before and paved the way. I mourn those who’s only option seemed to be suicide and those brutalized and murdered by our so-called “”police”” organizations.I join in our many struggls for better equality and improved quality of life. We have made some important strides but we have so much further to go. Let there be love and support for each other among us in these trying times. May the God who created and loves us all be on our side as we demand our basic human rights to be honored.

Thank you Black and Pink for giving me a venue by which to be heard. I look forward to my next issue of the newspaper and send my love to all my brothers and sisters free and confined. one say we’ll all be free at last.

“”Jack”” – Gatesville, TX

 

To my Black and Pink family,

I’m writing to you today cause I want to express my feelings and thoughts. I hope that some of you will be able to relate to some of my views and if not at lease be able to understand them. First let me say that being a transwoman the first thing I learned is that before you can expect others to accept you, you must accept yourself. It took me a long time to understand that. I didn’t always take the easy road either. My entire 20s was sex work, drug abuse, and I was hurting myself more than others. Again not lesson easily learned after spending most of my twenties in jail. I learned that this isn’t what I wanted for myself. Today I keep a journal daily of all my feelings and thoughts. One thing I want to share with you is a quote from my journal. This quote comes from an entry I wrote one morning after Jason came to visit me in jail. “”I don’t want my actions to make me different, I want my actions to make a difference.”” I believe that if we all think that way we could make a difference and a difference and a change is much needed in todays world. Together we can make that change. I just finished reading a book by Janet Mock, “”Redefining Realness,”” If you’re a trans woman it’s a must. Please believe me. At age 30- this book helped me learn so much about myself that I wish I learned at a younger age. bell hooks once said, “”sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power – not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and don’t want it to exist.”” With that being said I want you to remember that as long as you have a voice you have power. Being incarcerated has taught me that even though they can take away a lot from me they cannot take my voice which is my power and I won’t give it to them or anybody else. Your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas can be so powerful and influential whether you voice it through pen and paper or verbally. It’s a powerful tool to be able to think for yourself, one tool you must never lose. I could go on forever but I don’t want you to lose interest in what I’ve said. So be strong and remember that as long as we have each other to count on and be supportive things will be alright. Keep your heads up, voice loud, beliefs strong, and believe in yourself.

Love always,
Lexi T.

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