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Letters to Our Family (February 2017)

My name is Kara Rene B.  I am a transgender female prisoner currently incarcerated at WCI in Ohio.

I would like to share an experience with you about how the State Constantly negates my rights as a transgender prisoner.

One day there was a fundraiser and we could pay for pictures at $4.00 per photo.  I was so excited because I was talking pictures for the first time as a woman.  None of my family has seen me as Kara, they only knew me as Adam.  So I got dressed, did my hair, and makeup and damn I looked Fierce!  I then walked to the visit room to take the pictures and no one stopped me.  I went inside and was not told that I couldn’t take my pictures with make-up on, they only said that anyone with a tank top on had to go back and change into a t-shirt.  So I took the pictures and was so relieved that they provided me with the same dignity that is afforded to male prisoners… for once, and then I went back to my cell.  Two days later, someone came and shook my cell down looking only for make-up.  He found my stash and wrote me a ticket.  When it came time to receive the photos, they said that I couldn’t have mine because “male inmates are not permitted to wear or possess cosmetics.” WFT?!?  I am not a male, I am a transgender female.  So now I am being criminalized for my gender identity.  It hurts to know that, apparently, even my money is not wanted.  Wow that gives me the message that I am less than a human being and something is wrong with me.  Is it any wonder why the suicide rate or transgender teens is through the roof?  We are constantly being bombarded with the message of inferiority everywhere we turn.  I guess it is ok for people to make fun of us…  It seems that it has always been ok to marginalize one group or another because we live in a culture that thinks its okay to treat us differently or “less than,” I end up with the staff here following along with the larger cultural program.  That is why it is so important in my eyes to draw the line in the sand about these pictures.  Because its not really about the pictures, its about confronting an oppressive and abusive society that murders some of its children with scorn and condemnation.  A society where bullycide is an unspoken norm.

We all deserve a future that is better than that.  I’m fighting for a different future than the one currently shoved down our throats.  I believe that any human being should feel safe and secure to express who we are, wherever we are, without fear of government-sponsored terror forcing us back to our “assigned seats.”

For me, this is war.

These are my non-negotiable demands transgender prisoners must have.

  1. Availability of all property items available to prisoners of their same gender and security level.
  2. Mandatory enforcement for all ODRC staff to reference prisoners by the appropriate pronouns consistent with their gender identity.
  3. Mandatory enforcement for all ODRC staff to reference prisoners by their name of choice consistent with their gender identity.
  4. Accommodation for the grooming and maintenance consistent with their gender identity.
  5. Accommodation for cell assignments that eliminates the possibility of discrimination by proxy, by forcing the inmate to cell with someone who is not a sexual predator but has antithetical believes that will subject the inmate to an intolerable living environment.

If there is anyone out there reading this who wants to add fuel to the fire, I am taking these demands to the Federal Courts for recognition of all transgender prisoner rights.  What I don’t have currently is legal council, or funds to obtain legal council, but iI am hoping there is a community out there beyond the fences that cares as much as I do about the next generation of children who otherwise will be murdered with scorn and condemnation.

It stops here.
It stops now.
Who’s down?
Kara, OH

 

Black and Pink Family,

I just want to thank you all at the Family for keeping me informed of all the bad things that are going on in the outside world. The people that are committing these mean and sad acts against the LGBTQ people. I would like to send out my grievance to all of the families that lost loved ones in that awful nightmare. I want to pray for everyone that was lost. I’m praying for all the family and I want to wish you all the best and I’m hoping and praying that you all at the Family are in the best of health and are doing fine. I’m still here, confined, but strong in will and in spirit with the help of the Lord, Amen! Let everyone know that I’m praying for them all at the B. and P.

Samuel F. TX

 

Dear Black & Pink,

I absolutely love your platform and the strength it gives to the LGBTQ community both inside prison and in free society. Your courage inspires me to embrace myself and those around me who are suffering under the same conditions. I’ve been reading your newsletter for over a year no and I’ve grown tremendously as a human being. You’ve allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin and I love all for it. It’s nice to know that there is an organization that supports and nurtures people like me. You have given a voice to the voiceless. You have breathed new life into a class of marginalized and disenfranchised individuals. You have earned our trust and respect because you believed our humanity was more important than our sexual preference and gender orientation. You are a beacon of hope, a healer of broken hearts and crushed spirits, and a sanctuary for us to explore our creativity and discover our hidden potential. Thank you so much for your sacrifice. On behalf of the LGBTQ community of Oregon State Penitentiary, we love you and wish you all peace, happiness, and success. Keep up the amazing work. You are making a difference.

One love,
Shawn W-X, OR

 

Dear Black and Pink Family,

This is my first time writing. My name is James W. I’m 36 years old and currently serving a 6 year sentence for my first probation violation. I’ve been receiving the Black and Pink newsletters for a little over a year now, maybe closer to two and really enjoy reading them. My favorite part is reading other people’s stories and experiences. It really helps me knowing that there’s people out there that knows what I’m going through.

I’m planning to transition to female and am currently trying to get on the waiting list to start my evaluation process towards (hopefully) getting my gender dysphoria diagnosis and starting on my transitioning meds. I’ve known (since the age of 7) that I wanted to be a girl. I feel that it is unfair to have to go through any kind of doctor so they can verify something I’ve known for almost 30 years!

I haven’t suffered any physical abuse since I’ve been here, but I’ve been threatened, talked about, and made fun of for over 3 years now. It’s very frustrating when people go out of their way to criticize you for who you are when you don’t bother anyone or you don’t force your beliefs or opinions on them, sometimes it hurts very badly!

I just wanted to thank everyone for inviting me and welcoming me into your family, it means more to me than words can say to be a part of something I believe in and support with all of my heart and soul!

Guess I’ll close for now, will write again later. Everyone take care and never give up on making your dreams come true!

All my love and support,
Jinny, VA

 

Dear Black & Pink Family

This is Jeff. M. Bi-sexual white male from Cameron, Missouri Prison in solitary since 2016 of April. I want to say I love you all my Black & Pink Family LGBTQ in prison and outside in the free world. I love reading the news letter of Black & Pink, and knowing I am loved and not rejected as a person. I got locked up on this case in 1994, and if I had my Black & Pink Family to turn to and talk to I feel I would not be here. It has made a difference in my life now knowing I have a family of friends LGBTQ that accept me for the way I am which is bi-sexual me. Before in 1994 I did not fit in & I had to hide being me. But not now! Thanks Black & Pink Family I love you LGBTQ your beautiful inside & out. I want to give a shout out to my best pen-pal friend Jess. T a member of Black & Pink in the Free World. She is an angel with a beautiful heart–take care my friend. When I get out of the solitary hole and get in population I want to introduce black & Pink Family to my gay friends, and let them know they are not alone, and LGBTQ Family stands together in and outside of prison. Well my LGBTQ Family I will close now, have a nice day–I love you all.

Sincerely—Jeff M. MO

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