Dear Black and Pink Family:
My name is Fatima Malika S. I am an African American Trans woman currently incarcerated in Corcoran CA. I have been receiving B&P for a long time, so firstly I really would like to thank B&P for all the work Jason and the family does with their activism always working for the cause of the GLBTQ community.
However, what I would really like to address is a bit different. I am a level One Inmate housed here on a level 2 yard, a couple of years ago this yard was designated a medical hub for transgender inmates, one of only two yards, so essentially I like many others trans woman are stuck here. This could actually be a good yard for transgender inmates but for the fact that we are in many ways bothered and harassed for simply being who are are. This facility is not very conductive to allowing us to really live expressing our chosen gender identity.
We have been fighting tooth and nail just to be able to wear a tank top t-shirt, because female staff (presumably) are bothered by a bra strap sticking out, yet we are not allowed to order more modest style tanks from the womans section of our approved vendor catalogs. At one point there was even talk about the staff getting together and banning the wearing of these t-shirts by any inmate, which apparently has been done at another prison, this is obviously a spiteful and vindictive move as well as a clear statement that “we will never recognize you as a woman.”
According to elements and standards set by the World Professional Association for Transgender health, trans men to present in our chosen gender identity, could be harmful to us psychologically, yet we are not allowed to order or wear makeup of any kind, and when we create our own we are harassed for doing so.
Staff here speaks to trans women in any way they choose, and maintain an air of invincibility. I staunchly believe that this situation is exacerbated by the fact that no one here will take the time to put forth the effort to write the disrespectful and discriminatory offenders up for their treatment. The reason is because no one wants to be retaliated against. I however feel that whenever you do not stand up to these ignorant bullies, you are in effect disrespecting all of the people that came before all of us and put themselves on the front line for us to be able to have what we have coming, and live openly without fear. This is a fight that is still going on today, every day, and every night.
If you are willing to allow someone to walk over you, just for the benefit of a bed move, then your character is and should be questioned. At which point do you stand up for yourself, for your gender. When do you stop disrespecting the people who have been hurt and some even killed for our cause.
So my call now is not only to people in the free world, but also to every trans woman and trans man in every jail and prison across America, Stand Up, no one can ride your back if you stand up straight. STAND UP, be the women and men you are supposed to be, not the one they tell you you are but won’t even recognize. Use your voice, by way of your ink pen. I know you’ve heard it before, you either stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR. Fatima Malika S. (CA)