Category Archives: Updates
CeCe’s release: what a welcome!
What a welcome! CeCe’s supporters around the world have outdone themselves with the outpouring of love and warm “welcome home” messages they’ve sent to CeCe this week. From the bottom of our hearts as a support committee, and from CeCe, thank you.
CeCe is busy transitioning back into her community and her everyday life — not to mention filming a documentary with Laverne Cox! She is looking forward to speaking to her supporters, and potentially the media, when the time is right. In the meantime, we wanted to field a few significant questions that we’ve heard in the past few days:
CeCe was released from prison on January 13, 2014, which was her long-anticipated release date. She’ll serve the remainder of her 41-month sentence on parole, consistent with Minnesota sentencing law.
Because of the support of her family, friends, and supporters around the world, CeCe has shelter, food, clothing, and other basic needs met right now. We know many of you are eager to support CeCe with donations, and your generosity means the world. We urge you to make donations to members of your community who are combating incarceration, racism, or transphobia; or to support current and former prisoners and prison abolition movements. The Rainbow Defense Fund is a great place to start.
CeCe’s case, and her recent release, are sparking critical conversations about incarceration, racism, transphobia, and safety. As these continue to unfold, we urge individual and organizational supporters to read CeCe’s writing, which is full of insight, vision, and ideas for beginning to address these systemic issues. We urge supporters to look to the root causes of imprisonment and seek solutions that keep our loved ones out of prison, and to support local organizations that are working to build the power and leadership of people like CeCe who are envisioning and practicing alternatives to violence and incarceration.
CeCe: FREE! Welcome home CeCe McDonald!
Come celebrate and welcome CeCe McDonald back into the outside world! Join CeCe, her family and friends for a night of musical performances and dancing! Let’s show CeCe how much we missed her, continue to support her and love her by grooving and dancing the night away!
Entrance starts at 7pm.
We have room in the theater for 100ish people, so first come first in.
Performance will also be projected in the lobby for overflow.
Dance party will start at 9pm, all will join the grooving!
Suggested donation $10 to help us pay for the party.
Cash or checks at the door (no one turned away!), or credit cards here:
Mistress of Ceremonies Andrea Jenkins!
This is a PARTIAL list of performers:
Heidi Barton Stink
Kevin Kaoz Moore
Sweetpea Tawnya Konobeck
Sol Rebel Phoenix Ras
Paridise La’Shay Valentino
a special performance by the Queen Honee Bea herself Ms. CeCe McDonald!
Brought to you by RARE Productions and The CeCe McDonald Support Committee
To learn more about CeCe McDonald, her fight against racism, transphobia and her release from prison you can go to her website: https://supportcece.wordpress.com/
Special thanks to Bryant Lake Bowl and Heavenly Day Cafe and Catering for food donations!
The rumors are true: CeCe’s getting out!
Dear CeCe McDonald supporters,
The rumors are true: CeCe is scheduled to be released from prison in January. She will wait and write a public statement about her release after she gets out of prison, because she wants to tell you all in her own words and own time. She would like to spend her first days out in privacy, with people she feels close to. Again, information about her release will be shared when CeCe feels it is the right time to do so. In the meantime, she and her support committee ask everyone to be patient.
We are excited to throw her a party soon after her release. As soon as the venue and date are confirmed, we will announce! This party is a chance for everyone who has been supporting CeCe to come out and celebrate her release with her.
Many of you are eager to send contributions of money or materials, to aid in her transition home. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for specific ‘asks’ in the future. Right now, because of the incredible support of her community here in Minneapolis and around the world, she will be safe, comfortable, and cared for when she rejoins us. Please consider sending a donation to other incarcerated people or abolition movements. (Check out the Rainbow Defense Fund).
CeCe has one more request: after her release, she’d like to make a scrapbook documenting the worldwide support she’s received. If you’ve organized an event, held a sign at a rally, or created art inspired by CeCe, please send it to mpls4cece at gmail dot com.
Thanks everyone for supporting CeCe, and for supporting her now in the way she most needs: with your patience.
~ CeCe Support Committee
“Harmony in Autumn”
and a lustre in the sky,
which through the summer
is not heard or seen
as if it could not be,
as if it had not been.
Hi everyone! I wanted to start this off with a poem about my favorite season written by Percy Bysshe Shelly. I can say that even being in an environment that is very callous and unappealing, I can take comfort in this season that is filled with warmth and joy. No matter where I am, I will never take for granted the beauty of life and knowing I am a creation like the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees. I have a newfound respect and adoration for life and all things attributed to it.
I plan to keep this posting short because I want to share an essay with you all: “Love in Action: Noting Similarities between Lynching Then and Anti-LGBT Violence Now.” It was shared with me by the author, a dear friend of mine and a literary genius by the name of Koritha Mitchell–a professor at Ohio State University (check out her other selected works). I love her work and encourage all to check out her pieces.
But I do want to talk about some things that have upset me over the last couple of months. The first thing is that for the movie “The Dallas Buyers Club” they casted a cisgender-presumably-hetero-man to play the role of a transgender woman when there are so many trans people who are talented actors who could have been casted for the roles of trans people who are usually given to cisgender people. I hate that Hollywood feel that stories about trans people are better told by cisgender people who haven’t even had the struggles of day-to-day life as a trans person.
I’m also irritated by the fact that people of color can’t even go shopping without cops pulling them over and harassing them on the legitimacy of one’s earnings to buy a Ferragamo belt or Louis Vuitton satchel. When did “shopping while Black” become an addition to the list of activities a POC couldn’t do without someone assuming it has to be illegal because they’re African-American. It’s even more annoying knowing that these things usually only happen to people of color. The real criminals are the politicians and bankers who lie and steal from the middle-class and the poor. So, when the hell are undercover cops going to stop and question how they got their Louis Vuitton?
And one thing that truly grind my gears is the hypocrisies of Republican politicians who feel that it’s “moral” and “logical” to take away funding from everything that would benefit those who don’t get a nice Senate or Congress check–like food assistance and Head Start–and those very “immoralites” get millions of dollars in subsidies from the very government they denounce. They say the ACA is evil and to “not let government in your healthcare,” when many of these very politicians have passed laws that intrude on the personal health decisions for women. It’s a shame knowing these are the people elected to run our country. Yes, the racism and sexism isn’t enough so they attack us financially and they say all of it is our faults. Oh, how I hate them so.
Well, I’m about to end this. You’ll be hearing from me soon. And I want to leave you with this:
“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” –John Updike
More GOP Whack-a-doos
I was never one to get caught in the nonsense of politics. To me it just seemed that the “bad guy” always won. But lately I’ve been intrigued by the nonsense of the GOP and their out-of-touch ideas and laws. I would always hear how Right wing conservatives felt that [we] were “forcing” our “lifestyles” on everyone, but if everyone would pay attention to the rhetoric of the GOP and RWC’s ideas of [their] “America” it would seem that it is just what they accuse [us] of implementing. They feel that their way is the right way (no pun). I just don’t understand how certain people, in this day and age, could still think that imaginary non-realistic fantasy world where their idea of the perfect family or person could compare to t.v. shows of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s comical the way those people think their ideas and choices they make are “moral” and “righteous,” but they couldn’t be more wrong–well… yeah, they can.
The Pioneers of Prejudice are taking it upon themselves to tell us what is best for us, as an if we’re not capable to make (the best) decision for ourselves. And I could see giving these people a chance if their ideas and laws were actually beneficial, I would say, “yes, these people get us. They understand and they DO know what’s best for us,” but it is the exact opposite. I can’t believe that there are people on this planet that are extremely out of touch with reality. They claim that they want to rebrand the GOP–I guess they’re going for The New Jim Crow Party, or the GOP2 (the Grand Oppressors Party Doubled). Just to let y’all know I said those last two things in my most mocking, sarcastic voice you could imagine.
From the War on Women, Voting Rights, Workers Rights, and Stop and Frisk–I have notice that there are those working for us. And again there are those who are against us and claim they are for us by challenging the things that are beneficial for us. President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare, which will give millions of Americans the opportunity to have affordable healthcare with pre-existing conditions which will save countless lives, and crazy GOPs are trying to argue (only on the basis that this was created by Obama) that this will be detrimental to the American people. These people are so nuts that they feel that they can defend it, which in fact will never happen. So they imagine they can shut down the government and they will get their way. It’s the spoiled GOPs who think throwing a political tantrum will get their way. That’s one strike against them.
Then there is the blatant attack on minorities by the GOP. They don’t want to come to some agreement on immigration reform which is separating families. They are implementing laws that affect (mostly) the minorities who vote by acting on the SCOTUS’ decision to leave it to the states to decide their voting laws without the approval of federal courts. This is their tactic to suppress the minority vote and the brashness of it all is that they have went on record confirming that this is their objective. Lets look at some quotes I’ve heard by Republican reps who’ve not-quite-inconspicuously proved this to be true: “Voter ID will get Romney in office,” “Obama beat McCain by 10% and Romney by 5%–I’m sure voter ID had something to do with that,” and “voter ID is there to prevent voter fraud.” Aaaah–voter fraud, the phantom epidemic that plagues the polls. And yet they have no proof of such accusations. I believe there is/was a .003 percentage connected to voting fraud. Yeah, I guess if they don’t stop the issue now voting fraud will go to an all time high of .004%…. again I’m being sarcastic. And the insults don’t end with us, for extreme conservative groups have attacked the President mainly on the basis of his race. Many have picketed with signs that read “He’s 47% Negro,” “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” and “Impeach the Kenyan.” Now there has never been a more disrespectful and discriminating aim at any president, and these groups are going as far as talking about impeachment, on the grounds of … well, nothing. Then there are the right-wing conservative pundits who make comments about issues that affect minorities that they have not the singlest clue about, and have the nerve to refer to civil and human rights groups as “the grievance industry” and “race hustlers.” They claim that stop and frisk is needed and without it New York will turn into cities like Chicago and Detroit, that those cities should adopt stop and frisk laws. They criticize those who disagree and oppose stop and frisk, even the federal judge that proves stop and frisk is unconstitutional and discriminating. The Governor of New York is challenging that and appealing the judge’s decision. But the facts that show that there is no proof stop and frisk is effective should end any disagreement against the end of SAF. Crime dropped 74% before SAF was implemented and it slowed to 39% after SAF was enforced. About 13% of SAF cases are successful. So why keep this act of dehumanization and discrimination if it doesn’t work? That’s strike two.
All across the country there have been workers going on strike because of low pay rates and not having enough income to support themselves and their families. It’s a shame that big companies have grown in profit close to 500% over the last 5-10 years and seeing that the hardworking people who’ve helped them get there are treated like they’re not worth their work. The biggest misconception about fast food workers is that they’re teenagers, when in reality most of them are adults, usually women, who have families that they need to support. So why are so many Republicans, many of whom are rich, against raising minimum wage? On top of that they are also against families who get public assistance, in fact they refer to us as “parasites,” and make comments like “makers not takers.” It seems like those big-money-hot-shots want to keep their boot heels at our necks while they oppress however they can. Strike three and they are OUT! Honestly, when were these whack-a-doos ever in?
I can’t even begin to express how frustrating it is to know that these are the people ELECTED to their positions. We ned to start voting more and voicing our opinions and standing up for our rights. We deserve better, and while some want to backpedal and regress we need to push forward and keep the progress of change and equality on the front of gaining the respect and worth we ALL deserve. We need to show these people that they are not better than us and their elitist draconian ideas and attitudes are not what and who we are. That is them and we are definitely cut from different cloth. And even though there has been progress, we need to continue to fight and to make sure that we are heard. Remember, what we leave behind is what our children inherit, so I ask you, what are WE going to leave them? …Food for thought…
Before I go, I want to give a shout out to Laverne Cox for her role in Orange is the New Black. She makes me want to get back into theatre. I also want to give big shoutouts to Darren Yang and Raven Simone for their comings out. I also encourage people to support actor George Takei by signing the petition to move the Olympics out of Russia due to their strict laws that are extremely anti-LGBTQI and send our people to prison for something that should be their right as human beings. Other things that are interesting and people should get involved with like The Stamp Stampede and The Doers Network are making a stand for fairness and helping others.
I also want to leave you with the quote of the month and a poem written by Emily Cameron and sent in by her friend Evan Harding in Vancouver, BC. (Thanks!)
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have, what you don’t have. The only thing that matters is that you set a goal and you just dream, live, and fly.” –Barrington Irving
by Emily Cameron
Before my birth,
before my mother’s mother’s motherhood
before my father’s father first announced his presence
in the way that even the shyest of infants do,
and before some other things, too
there were meetings
in the basements of the brave.
The underground underground:
We will carry anything
no job too big or small.
A thousand thousand generations
mindful of the wall-to-noise ratio
and the concealment of clues,
and being sure to make any necessary sacrifice.
Whatever it takes.
Courage is fear with a Mary Poppins attitude.
“If I must I must.”
and we must.
All these codes and passwords
were a message in a bottle
addressed to the present:
DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP!
every last one.
I love this poem and I hope you all enjoy the post for this month. As fall set in and the leaves turn and the chill come along, know my love for you will always be consistent. Until next time LOVE and SOLIDARITY!
Injury and Insult: Trayon Martin, racism in the system, and a revolution amongst us
As I sit and watch Michelle Alexander and Chris Hayes have a conversation about race, as well as all of the nation in light of the George Zimmerman acquittal, it can’t be any clearer that the injustice system has failed us once again. So with that it’s obvious to know how I feel at this time. Not just for myself but for all the “minorities” who have been affected by this faulty judicial system that treat us as second class citizens, even less than that. To be looked down upon and to add injury to insult, laugh in our faces, throw salt on our wounds, and even piss on our graves. Rapper Lil’ Wayne said it best, and I quote, “God bless Amerika, this ol’ godless Amerika… sweet land of kill ’em all and let ’em die.”
Highlighting on the injury to insult, many right-winged conservative foot-mouthed assholes, which include Zimmerman’s defense team, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly, who have tried to justify Trayvon Martin’s killing by demonizing Trayvon by saying “he was wearing what most criminals wear,” referring to his hoodie or that his toxicology report came back with positive test results of marijuana so “he was up to ‘no good’.” So I guess that means that wearing hoodies and smoking pot, going to the store and walking home talking to a friend on the phone is deemed “suspicious” and therefore someone can follow you and kill you and because you seemed suspicious, your death will be overlooked. But we all know that this was more than hoodies and marijuana–it was about racial profiling and the (implicit) racism that still exist in what’s supposed to be a post-racial “color-blind” society.
I’m watching a news show when they did a segment on Rush Limbaugh doing his “angry white man” rant where he went on record to say that white people don’t have to feel guilty about slavery, that in fact they should be the last people to feel guilty about it, that a white man (referring to Abraham Lincoln) saved blacks from slavery and how the nation went to war just for that. But here’s a fact: Lincoln said that if he could save the union without ending slavery he would. So that goes to show that he didn’t care for blacks, or for that much wasn’t racist.
With that he continues to make ignorant and offensive comments about blacks, and then he says that Pres. Obama was “selfish” and “inconsiderate” for a comment the Pres. made at a press conference calling for mature conversations and discussions about race after the Zimmerman verdict where he said that “Trayvon Martin could have been him 35 years ago.” Tell me, how can a white man make any comment about a situation or an experience that he would have never dealt with (racism or discrimination) in his life, EVER? And how can someone be so oblivious and ignorant about race relations in this country? And why isn’t he, and others like him, being called out on their disconnect from reality with ignorance and deliberate disregard to the sensitive issues surrounding race and the inequality for minorities in this country.
Then there is Bill O’Reilly, who made the most outlandish comments about African Americans starting with something he said about black people who were dining at Sylvia’s–a soul food restaurant where he too was dining. He said that “there wasn’t one person yelling “I need more iced tea, m-f’ers.” It was like being in an Italian restaurant in a white suburban area. The tone of his voice made me think that he was sincerely surprised that he didn’t walk into some stereotypical idea of an African American establishment and of African Americans as people. As an if he were going to come upon a group of uncouth Neanderthals who have yet to discover how to use eating utensils and speak with proper grammar. But that was only one of the many insults aimed at the African American community. This very same man said that “to take on black crime, black culture needs to change,” the root of black crime is because of the disintegration of black families, and that “young black women need to be stopped from having babies out of wedlock.”… Really? See, it’s that kind of ignorant thinking that halts the progression of equality and perpetuates stereotypical ideas and racial profiling that stigmatizes the minorities who are nothing like the ideas others associate with our cultural backgrounds. These men, and many other people like them, are the pioneers of prejudice, and as long as they’re not being called out on their bullshit, they’re going to continue,
After the Zimmerman trial, many activists and organizations rallied and demonstrated for Florida’s Governor Rick Scott to call for a special session to reform or reject the “Stand Your Ground” law.” As of late Phillip Agnew with the Dream Defenders have been occupying the capitol building there in Florida until FL Gov. Rick Scott calls that special session. He stands with the SYG law, and feels that it needs no reform. Now… this law that has let a man get away with murder, has caused a Florida woman to spend 20 years in prison! Marissa Alexander, a 30-year-old African American mother, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after she was charged for firing a gun as a warning shot at her then-abusive husband who admitted to the allegations. She never shot anyone, in fact no one was even injured–well, except her at the hands of her husband, and a man who shot a teenage boy in claims of self-defense. In the case of Marissa, she was denied the right to use SYG–not killing anyone–and sentenced to two decades in prison. Can someone please explain to me how an injustice such as this not make one question the biased laws and the discrimination that still exist in the “justice system.” And people wonder why the prison percentages between whites and non-whites are so disproportionate. More importantly when are people going to ACT on these injustices and fight for the equality of each person in this country, both free and in the “system.”
It’s hard for me having to watch the trial and seeing everything unfold. Where all of us speculating knowing that this whole situation, from the incident itself to the trial, is all based on race–racial profiling and racism spewing from it all, regardless of what anyone say or think. I know that people have been comparing my case to Zimmerman’s, and yes it’s obvious that laws are biased. But even I can say I came out blessed knowing that (a) the system was against me to begin with, and that (b) looking at other cases similar to mines, I didn’t have to spent extensive time–even decades–in prison. People don’t understand that I actually feel a guilt for that. I know that nothing beyond the incident and getting arrested was in my control, as it is for anyone who is a victim of the system. But for me it hurts–a lot. My heart aches for the Patreese Johnsons, the Marissa Alexanders, and the Chrishaun McDonalds. But no pain can bring back the Trayvon Martins, the Oscar Grants, the Matthew Shepards, the James Birds, the Gwen Araujos, and all of our brothers and sisters who were victims of hate in this world. I can say that survivor’s guilt is real. That I’m still, to this day, dealing with the fear and sadness of my experience with hate and discrimination. How blessed am I to have so much love and support from my family, and I say family which extends to all my friends and supporters around the world.
My love and support is with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin as they go through this journey of leaving a positive legacy for Trayvon. I couldn’t help but to cry after hearing Sybrina tell an audience at the National Urban League to “wrap their minds around that there is no prom for Trayvon. There is not high school graduation for Trayvon. There is no college for Trayvon. There aren’t any grandchildren from Trayvon” all because of George Zimmerman. When I went through my own incident, that was something that harbored on my mind constantly–how would my death have affected my family and friends, and how different would things have been if it were the other way around? That question was rhetorical. We know what the outcome would have been, just like we know what the outcome would’ve been if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white. Or even if Zimmerman was black and it was just a black-on-black crime. Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are catalyst for not just their own son’s death, but for all those who have been victims of hate and violence. They are heroes in my eyes. Strong and brave, creating a voice that has been long overdue to be heard, and they deserve the acknowledgment and respect that some, not all, have given them. I love them as if they were my own mom and dad, and we should understand that their struggle is our struggle.
Aside from the attention surrounding the Zimmerman trial, issues of racism and discrimination extend beyond that. The debates about immigration reform and the Voting Rights Act have pulled back the veil of intolerance of equality and acceptance in this country. The insults aimed at the African-American and Latino communities are disrespectful, dehumanizing, ignorant, unintelligent, and very hurtful nonetheless. Indeed it’s a blessing that the SCOTUS recognize the rights for gays and lesbians to get married legally in and have the same federal rights as hetero-marriages, but I don’t want people to lose sight of the other issues that will affect us all in the long run. Their deliberate efforts to minimize the minority by restricting voters rights is a slap in the face of the civil rights movements of the past and present that fought so hard for the rights of minorities to vote. And the idea that sending all the immigrants back and building large fences will solve all of America’s issues. But it seems that this policy only apply to black and brown people, and knowing all of this is the attempt of Republicans and right-wing conservatives to win elections that they’re obviously losing. So I’m guessing that insulting and stereotyping us will bring them those votes they need? These people need to get a serious grasp of reality, like really soon…. Not that I care for them to ever take office. Actually, I just don’t care for them at all, but I do believe we all deserve respect as humans, regardless of our race, gender, or social status.
I really want people to start thinking on how we can help minorities and the poor to help us all grow as a community and united front. Can we challenge ourselves to unite all races of this nation by taking an initiative to end our own preconceptions of each other? I know that I was extremely upset after having a visit from a close friend, and he told me that people have been criticizing him and my other non-Black friends for being in pictures that they post online. That divisive attitude is why I ask for a mend in race relations. Have these people ever thought how it feel for them, and myself, to have to deal with me being in prison. It’s always easy for someone to conjure up negative thoughts and reactions to my “white” friends who’ve gained popularity from their “black” friend in prison. First of let me say that there is nothing glamorous or “popular” about being in prison. And why can’t there be support for those who have went through this struggle with me instead of backlash. I love these people. They have been here for me since day one, and regardless of what others say, they will be my support and my family and at this point you’re either with us or against us and none of us have time for hate or divisive attitudes or ideas, especially at critical times like now. And that’s not just directed at those who are commenting about me, my case, and my fam–but for all people across the nation and around the world.
I feel a revolution is amongst us, and I know that there is no better time than now. I wish that I could march with the many of people who will be marching across Washington this August (8/25-26) in honor of the 50th year anniversary for the Civil Rights March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures of the Civil Rights Movement of that era. I encourage everyone to join the march and the experience of unity amongst all people–races, genders, sexualities, social statuses, and cultural backgrounds. Even if you can’t make it to the march still get active and get involved however that may be.
Before I go, I just want to say that I love you all more than ever now. I couldn’t be more conscious of the love and support you all give me–my family, and that’s kin and chosen, and of course I have chosen all of you. You’re all my family and I will love and cherish and appreciate you all until there’s no more of me. We are the future, we are the revolution!
The quote of the month is given to us by author Ashley Smith:
“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
Until next time my loves keep fighting, stay strong, and live out loud. Do you, cause no one can do it better!
P.S. Shout out to Marcus Swift at Roger Williams University School of Law. Mwwaaah!
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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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!
Masculine men and “outside speculators”
After having a conversation with a close friend of mine about masculine men and their identities as individuals and their involvement with feminine gay men and/or (trans) women, I figured I’d use this for a topic for this post.
It all started when the subject of my male friends came up, which included someone I’ve been involved with for three years. I was explaining each of my involvement with each guy and how they all differed. But the common factor with them was how secure each of them were with me with their identities as masculine men being questioned by “outside speculators,” and how that affects the relationships I have with them. For all of them it varied with different results, and I can say that a man’s masculinity is very important to them and that their relationships with others does indeed affect their masculine identities apart from their individuality.
So the underlying question here is, why do masculine men get so caught up in the opinions and ideas of others? And not saying that all (masculine) men are like that, but majority are. I can say that there has only been one (very) masculine man that has not let others’ ideas affect our friendship, and that has actually made us grow closer and now I can say he is one of my closest friends. Anyways… I would figure that a (masculine) man’s dominance and assertiveness would put him in a position to hold his ground, that as the “man,” he should (or would) use his masculine authority to show his right to be involved with whoever he pleases. Right?…
My idea is that when a man’s ego and reputation are at stake, they fold into the pressures of society’s idea of what masculine/ity is. For me, it comes off as if femininity, homosexism, or transgenderism is contagious and that the man’s masculinity is jeopardized with the association of the fem-man and/or (trans)woman. But that’s not at all the case. A masculine man should never get hung up on whether his identity as an individual is questioned by others, because no one’s individuality could never be taken away by another person. You are who you are, regardless of who you associate with. I figured that was the contributing factor that causes my relationships to fail. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who can attest to that.
Also, I can say that the stereotypes and stigmas attached to fem-men and (trans)women are also a factor in the relationships between us and the (masculine) men. I would always think that the men I dated were ashamed of being with me when in reality they’re ashamed of themselves. Their own insecurities, unassurances, and per pressures cause them to fall into society’s conformative gender identities and roles, but in reality who ANYONE associates with does NOT add or take away from who we are as individuals. It’s all what we make it and how we view ourselves.
Well, I just wanted to give you guys something to think about. It’s been something that’s been on my mind for a while. That, and the fact that I won’t be able to travel to Pittsburgh, PA to visit “S/he is Her/e” at the Warhol Museum, based on legendary performance artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge–it starts June 15th. If you have an opportunity, go check it out and learn about our history’s “pandrogyny.” Also, before I go, I want to leave you guys with the quote of the month:
“Learn from yesterday; live for today; hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
I love you ALL! Thanks for checking in and the support! TTYL!
A major milestone: my 25th birthday!
Greetings my loves!
Well, despite the shitty circumstances I’m in, I’m excited to say that I’ll be turning 25 this month…YAY! And already the month is starting off fantastically on account of Jason Collins being the first openly gay athlete still active in the NBA. I commend you, Jason, for being an outstanding influence and role model. I seen in an interview that he did that he wanted to end the stereotypes of what “gay” is, which I think he was referring to the most common stereotypes of gay men as feminine and flamboyant, not that there is anything wrong with anyone’s personal individuality. But he is a perfect example of a masculine man who also identifies as an openly gay man. And not to mention he is so very sexy… (wink wink) LOL. But nonetheless, the LGBTQGNC community thanks Jason Collins for being a leader and help to end the stereotypes and marginalizations that are attached and associated with the LGBTQ-GNC community. Our support is here for you! And the revolution continues…
Now as I mentioned I’ll be turning 25 this month, and for me being in prison for saving my own life is worth celebrating another year, even if it’s in a fucked up environment. I feel blessed–no I am blessed to say that I’ve lived for a quarter of a century. That through my trials and tribulations, through my life’s quarrels, that when I never thought I’d make it past the age of sixteen, I triumphed over all obstacles and that in itself is a victory. So for me, this is a major milestone, especially considering the violence against trans women and the injustices of a faulty “judicial system” and a society that’s been hijacked and distorted by radical-religious ideas. I can say that through all the adversity I faced over the course of time I lived so far, I’ve evolved and accomplished more than I would have ever imagined. And I can only go up from here! And it’s also a blessing to have such wonderful, loving, caring people in my life. I want to take this time to thank those people who have grown to know me and love me as I do for them. I love you all so much, there aren’t even words to express my love and gratitude for you all. Also to all the supporters around the world I LOVE YOU ALL!
I also want to give a major shout-out to my mom, and all moms around the globe in honor of Mother’s Day. I love you so much mommy, and I love both my grannies and all my beautiful aunts. These women are great examples of strong, fierce females and I’m so appreciative of them for being understanding and caring. And for my mom who is supportive and helping me through this tough time, you’ve been a great mom and I love you. Thank you for being a top notch mom.
Before I go I want to leave you with the quote of the month and a poem that was on a card that someone sent me:
“To love is to risk not being loved in return: To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” (Author unknown)
This next piece is a poem titled “Her Journey’s Just Begun” by E. Breneman. I fell in love with it after reading it because it related to me so well.
Her Journey’s Just Begun
Don’t think of her as gone away–
her journey’s just begun,
life holds so many facets–
this earth is only one.
Just think of her as resting
from the sorrows and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years.
Think of how she must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away.
And think of her as living
in the hearts of those she touched…
for nothing loved is ever lost–
and she was loved so much.
Thank you Tracy in El Cerrito, CA for that beautiful card and that significant poem. I greatly appreciate it. Thank you all for hte love and support. T.T.Y.L.!
Violence Against (Trans)Women Today
I wrote a short essay on street violence against women and (trans) women that I initially did for a panel for the U of M but because of the DOC drama, I never got a chance to finish it… until now. I hope you all enjoy it. I love you all! TTYL!
A major problem in the entire world is violence against all women, which also includes trans women. Throughout time, women have been subjected to the cruel “iron fist” of the male species’ ever-inflicting egos. The violence that has been upheld for centuries have affected us all, whether it be a tyrannical leader’s harsh rule over a nation or domestic rule inside the household. Women have a higher rate of experiencing violence in all its forms–physical, verbal, and/or sexual. In most cases we are the victims of murder, and in the act of defending ourselves we are subjected to time, even life in prison. How can society say that it detest and challenge violence against women, when there is very little, if any, real help for us, and the help we give ourselves result in punishment?
Street violence and trans women go hand in hand, and I’m sure that if asked any trans woman can agree that most of her conflicts occurred outside of her dwelling. For me, all of the incidents that I’ve experienced were outside of the home. I, and most trans women, have to deal with violence more often and at a higher rate than any cissexual person, so every day is a harder struggle, and the everyday things that a cissexual person can do with ease are a constant risk, even something as simple as taking public transportation. Street violence has affected me drastically, and I think–no, I know–that if I never learned to assert myself that I would’ve never gained the courage to defend myself against those who have no respect or gratitude towards others in the world, I would have met my demise years ago.
Currently, I am in a men’s state prison for the death of someone I accidentally stabbed in the act of defending myself. It all started around 12 am on June 4th, 2011 whne a group of racist drunks began to verbally bash my friends and I on our way to a local 24-hour grocery store. After being called everything from faggots to niggers, tempers escalated and I was caught in between the madness. A woman from the other group decided to throw her alcoholic cocktail in my face, and to add insult to injury, she smashed her glass cup in my face which lacerated my cheek and was deep enough to cut a saliva gland which caused painful complications later on after getting 12 stitches. When the police arrived it wasn’t hard to for them to assume who the aggressors were–surely, for them, it had to have been the group of black kids who started all this drama. At least that was the feeling I was receiving by the way they were treating me and my friends. And instead of taking me directly to the ambulance, they made me sit in the back of a squad car in handcuffs while bleeding badly and in very bad pain.
When I was finally transported to the ambulance, I was immediately bombarded with questions, even before I could get the medical attention I needed. And when I got to the hospital it didn’t go any better. I was told to take off all my clothes, after that I was shackled to a hospital bed, and poorly examined hence the large deformity that was on my left cheek from a saliva gland being cut. From there I say in an interrogation room for over 5+ hours. And it all went downhill from there. I can say that I’m so blessed to have such wonderful, caring, loving friends, family, and supporters that helped me through this injustice.
But it does go to show that there is nothing really in place for women to protect themselves–ourselves. We need to unite to make a voice for all those who have become a victim of violence. I want to shout-out all the organizations and programs that are doing just that. To all those who showed up to the 1 Billion Rising event in Pittsburgh on Valentines Day I LOVE YOU ALL! I also want to shout out all the victims of violence that were honored at the event: Patreese Johnson, Charmaine Pfender, Marissa Alexander, and Tanika Dickson. I LOVE YOU ALL! We are all victims of violence and the injustices and oppression of a faulty legal system and the PIC. And in memoriam of all our fallen sisters, this is for you! Our flames of resilience and tenacity burn bright in the efforts of a revolution for women. We will not give up until there are the necessary changes in this world for better protection and equality. And it is up to us to show that we are concerned and that none of our struggles will go in vain.
I cannot reiterate enough to people how they should get involved. GET INVOLVED! Organizations like 1 Billion Rising need our help, or get involved in local organizations and program. I pray that no other woman should have to deal with violence on any level, and I know that we can make a change.
Thank you all for taking time to hear (or should I say read) my concerns for our women in the world. I LOVE YOU ALL! Please stay strong, live well, and fight hard!
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