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Letters to our Family (September 2017)

Dear Black & Pink,

I just got a hold of your December 2016 issue and I loved it. I was unaware that there was something like this newsletter for us in prison. I’ve been to three different prisons in ten years and I just got this. To have a place where we can reach out to one another, share our stories, and the injustices of the “justice” system is invaluable.

Most of us have had to hide who or what we are growing up and/or in prison. I am relatively new to “the life,” having only been able to accept myself for who and what I am openly and actively 2.5 years ago. I fought myself since I was 14. I’m now 29, openly gay and happy.

Had there been a support system this strong available when I first noticed my feelings, I may have been a whole other person than the one I am today. To be able to accept yourself when you live in a place that makes you feel like you have to hide constantly is a major victory for someone when they’re young. Black & Pink gives confidence to those of us who haven’t had any because of the way we were raised. I’m so glad that Black & Pink is here offering support and encouragement, letting people like me know we’re not alone.

Thank you Black & Pink,
David (OH)

 

Black & Pink Family,

I recently received your Newsletter for the first time. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in this place. I’m a gay male of color who has just recently started feeling comfortable with who I am as a person. With the “jacket” that comes with being gay in prison it is difficult as all of you know to have true friendships. So I hid who I was for a long time. However, I am who I am and I’m happy with that now.

I met the love of my life at my last unit. I had no idea it was possible for me to find happiness in a place like this but I did. I say all of that to say this, keep your heads up my LGBT family. There is happiness out there for all of us. I was a cutter, I was bullied and I hated myself. But I love myself now and there are people who love me too. I love you. Never forget that. You are special and wonderfully made.

Love,
Chris (TX)

P.S.—Pain is inevitable, misery is optional

 

Dear Black & Pink Family,

I’m writing to send my love, respect, kisses, and hugs to you. My name is Rosalyn. I am a transgender woman (MTF). I’m 32 years old. I’ve been in prison 12 years and I’ve got another 12 years to do in prison. As a female (a trans female, at that), I’ve had a hard time in prison, especially because I’m a Muslim. I’ve been denied the right to freely practice my religion. I’m denied a prayer rug to offer my daily prayers, I’ve been denied a hijab (shawl) to cover my hair during prayer, and when leaving my cell I was out right denied the right to be seen by a transgender specialist based solely on the fact that I was not seen by a transgender specialist and treated for gender dysphoria while on the streets.

That clearly makes this a freezeframe policy, especially since it was given to me in black and white, which makes it unconstitutional, because it does not provide for individualized assessment and treatment for a serious medical issue. But if you look at Arnold v. Wilson, which involves a transgender woman whose diagnosis and treatment began while incarcerated, the courts noted that hormone therapy may be initiated during incarceration upon diagnosis with GID.

I’m a strong, African-American queen and there are two things I will not tolerate: 1) I will not tolerate any disrespect from anyone, especially a man; 2) I will not tolerate, nor accept, the word “no” when my rights are being violated. I’m filing a 1983 lawsuit against the state of Maryland and its officials for denying me hormone therapy due to a freeze-frame policy. I’m attacking the freezeframe policy and their denial of my right to freely practice my religion.

The pen is a dangerous weapon when you have knowledge and the know-how to use it, so it’s very wise for my LGBTQI brothers and sisters to educate themselves and arm themselves with a pen and pad. It’s just like having a MAK-90–it blows through anything. Brothers and sisters, do not fear losing your family and friends because of who you are, because if they truly love you, they will support you, but if they don’t love you, they will leave you. And guess what! You still have your LGBTQI family who will love, respect, support, and accept you for who you are. Don’t hide out of fear of losing family and/ or friends, nor act out of fear of what people think, because in the end, it will only destroy you psychologically. Love yourself for who you truly are: a queen or king.

Love, respect, hugs, and kisses,
Your sister,
Roslayn L. (MD)

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