From CeCe, with love: Leslie Feinberg, Kristin Beck, and Jenni Gann
Before I start this post, I just want to send all of my love and positive energy to my dearest friend and idol Leslie Feinberg. I just want you to know that it is an honor to know and have met you. You are truly an inspiration and a true example of resiliency, honesty, intelligence, strength—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—love, and empathy. It’s a blessing to know that you have inspired so many including me, and that your legacy for the LGBTQI-GNC community is without vain—and even more a blessing to know that I am fighting alongside you, a legendary author and activist, in this war against injustice and inequality. To Leslie and Minnie Bruce, I am your child. And I love y’all so much, and for all that y’all have done for me. My sincerest love and support for you both. Hugs and kisses.
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In light of Independence Day I want to commend my newest idol and inspiratory, U.S. Navy Seal vet Kristin Beck. And I can say that I am not a fan of the military-industrial complex (M.I.C.), but after watching Anderson Cooper’s exclusive interview with the woman who told her troubles as the clichéd “woman stuck in a man’s body,” I wanted to share my support for her as an openly (trans) woman who fought for this country. Yes, Kristin spent most of her years denying herself her true identification as a woman, and in so joined the Navy as an attempt for a “cure.” But she overcame her obstacles and granted herself her self-identification and self-acceptance.
And my love extends to all the vets and active duty persons in the military. But there is an unbridled appreciation and love for my LGBTQI-GNC people who have, and is currently active in (any branch of) the military. As I watched Kristin tell her story, I couldn’t help but think back to my own struggles trying to figure out who I was and fortunately I didn’t fall into the conformities of social patriarchy and denying myself the freedom of living my life outside of the status quo. So, for Independence Day I’m hoping people choose to do and be just that: INDEPENDENT. Living for you to be who and what you choose.
This also brings about the question of our country’s bigotry and hypocrisies that prove that LGBTQI-GNC people are dispensable when it comes to fighting for the country and risking lives, but we are not granted the equalities of any cis/heterosexual individual who wouldn’t even think of being in the military. So as I shake my head in disgust at ignorant politicians who feel that the very same people who fight so that their undeserving elitist asses can sit in legislation and pass their conservative illogical pedestal-like bullshit don’t deserve the same equality that any other person is given, I know that the irony is not lost on me.
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Shifting gears: In the latest issue of the Black & Pink newspaper there was a section titled: “Advocacy: Help a Sister Out!” where there is a request to help an incarcerated B&P leadership circle-member by writing letters to the warden at Kern Valley State Prison. So I want everyone to do what they can to help her. Here is the info and sample letter to help out our sister Jenni Gann. Actually this is the whole article and what B&P is calling for people to do:
If you would like to write a letter to support Jenni, an incarcerated B & P Leadership Circle member, below is a sample letter. You can write to the Warden at the address below. Please note: This is not the correct address for Jenni, please do not write to her directly at the below address, it will not reach her, and will not help her cause. Though we all may feel anger and rage about these issues, calm and respectful letters will be most helpful at this time. Thank you everyone who can help out.
-Ian, B & P Free World Leadership Circle
to: Martin D. Biter, Warden
Kern Valley State Prison
3000 W. Cecil Ave
P.O. Box 3130
Delano, CA 93216-6000
re: Searches of Inmate J. Gann #E23852
Dear Warden Biter,
I hope this letter finds you well. I write to you today to express concern for one of the people incarcerated at Kern Valley. Jenni (John David) Gann is an inmate at KVSP, number E23852. As a transgender woman, she has repeatedly experienced sexual harassment during cross-gender strip searches. This has included ridiculing her anatomy, threating her, and exposing her to male inmates.
I write to you out of a personal concern for Jenni. I also write as a member of Black & Pink. Black & Pink is a nation-wide organization of over 2,500 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) prisoners and Free World allies. We recognize that, unfortunately, LGBTQ people are often targeted for unfair treatment in prison. We work to stop all discriminatory treatment, including that which Jenni is experiencing in your institution.
I appeal to your position of leadership at KVSP. Please see to it that this sexual harassment stops and does not continue. Please refrain from strip searches unless absolutely necessary; have female staff perform these invasive searches; and, at the very least, conduct all searches in a professional manner that respects Gann’s status as a person, and her particular status as a transgender woman in a men’s prison.
Thank you for your time and attention to this. Please feel free to contact me, and I look forward to hearing that this issue has been resolved appropriately.
As a supporter of B & P and as a (trans) woman I am asking that everyone do all they can to help Jenni. I know that with the help and support of all my friends and family and even all the supporters nationwide and worldwide who have helped me with being in prison it had made a big difference in how I’m treated by staff and other inmates, and that’s because people got involved by calling and writing and making sure that I’m treated fairly and I’m as safe as I can be, considering the fact that I am in prison. But I can say that the experience could have been way worse than what it is without help from outside supporters.
Well my lovelies, I’m about to watch my favorite truthful comedy channel—MSNBC (Rachel Maddow knows how to read the gurls…LOL). But before I go I want to leave you with the quote of the month:
“When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of two things will happen. Either there will be something solid for you to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.”
I love you all and I will talk to y’all later! Keep fighting against inequality and injustice, and continue to be the fabulous you ‘cause you do it best!