You are on page 1of 36


Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

In This Issue
Good News 1
Black Lives Matter Current 6
Last Year’s Struggle Around 9
Police Involvement in Pride
MAJOR! World Premier 10
House Keys Not Handcuffs! 11
Updates on Solitary 12
Jail Fight Update: We Won! 13
Letters from the Inside 15
Miss Major’s Retirement 17
Trans People in Prison Fight 19
Barriers to Changing Their
Legal Name and Gender
Compton’s Cultural District 23
Cookie’s Words of Wisdom 25
& Guidance for the Girls
Still Held in State Captivity
Legal Corner 27
Ally Updates 29
Janetta Johnson, Executive Director
Woods Ervin, Policy Director
KellyLou Densmore, Legal Director
T Pulphus, Programs Directors
Kyle Neil, Development Director
Santos LaRose, Programs Coordinator
Coral Feigin, Administration Coordinator
Toshio Meronek, Administration/Operations Coordinator
StormMiguel Florez, Administration Coordinator
Peaches Banks, Leadership Team
Cookie Bivens, Legal Coordinator
Cody Dolan, Legal Assistant
Ronjah Earl, Re-Entry Specialist

TGI Justice Project is a group of Are you trans, gendervariant and/or intersex and an artist, writer
trans- gender, gender variant and or thinker? Stiletto is welcoming submissions for the next issue.
intersex people—inside and outside Feel free to send poetry, articles, thoughts and art work to the
of prisons, jails and detention Stiletto editor and we will work with you to see if we can include
centers—creating a united family your submissions. Each issue has a different theme but overarching
in the struggle for survival and themes of TGIJP’s work include Black trans liberation, prison
freedom. We work in collaboration abolition, the prison-industrial complex, re-entry, resisting anti-
with others to forge a culture Blackness and white supremacy, transformative justice, etc. All
of resistance and resilience to submissions must meet prison guidelines.
strengthen us for the fight against
imprisonment, police violence, Send submissions to:
racism, poverty, and societal
pressures. We seek to create a world ATTN Stiletto Editor
rooted in self- determination, TGI Justice Project
freedom of expression, and gender 370 Turk Street #370
justice. San Francisco, CA

New Mailing Address: OR

370 Turk Street
PMB #370
San Francisco, CA

Email: Dedicated to the memory Tessa Jean Marie Sarver - sister, friend,
Website: philosopher, weirdo, revolutionary.
A Love Letter to My People to Remind
You How Beautiful and Special We Are
Dear Beautiful Black Transgender Women, Transgender coalitions for the enrichment to our growth for equality.
Women Of Color, and all TGI people, We must use our voices and our bodies and be visible
and speaking our truth to the faces of oppressors.
We’ve shown so much strength and courage to make the
decision to not to allow this system to prevent us from According to the 2011 Report, “Injustice At Every Turn:
utilizing our gifts and talents. As Marianne Williamson said: A National Transgender Discrimination Sur- vey” Black
transgender folks live in extreme poverty with 34%
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear reporting household income of less than $10,000/year.
is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our This is more than twice the rate for transgender people of
dark- ness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be all races (15%), four times the general Black populations
brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not rate (9%), and over 8 times the general US population’s
to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve rate of (4%). In some ways it feels like having this
the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that information sort of validates our disenfranchisement.
other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to This is why we as a community must be available and
shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of cognizant to participate in creating a world without
God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. jails, prisons or detention centers and do everything in
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other our power to develop systems that will fully afford us to
people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our participate in the building of our communities.
own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
We envision a world where we have equal access to jobs,
We are experiencing a civil rights movement and are in the housing, educational opportunities without harassment,
midst of a struggle for liberation, so please pay attention. It is medical and mental health services. We envision a world
our God- given right to work for our collective freedom. where we can live safely, openly, and honestly in our truth.
Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation,
And especially to my sisters, brothers, and family that are there is work you can do to help put the “T” in the Black
currently being warehoused in jails, prisons and detention family dynamic. We can all help expand space and safety
centers: we must love ourselves and be a part of this movement. for transgender
For folks that are getting out, we must and should remember people in our homes,
to prepare ourselves to create a good life where we can reach neighborhoods, pods
back and be a part of our folks’ lives that are not getting out and yards, in our
anytime soon. There’s lots of healing that needs to take place faith communities
both individually and collectively in order for our community and our social
and world to affirm that all Black Lives Matter. services. We are in
it together, and it
Let us start by making sure we love and are taking care is time for us all to
ourselves and our community, including our community’s create the better
medical and mental health. There is a lot of work that needs world that we want
to be done so that we can knock down walls and barriers that and know is possible.
prevent us from flourishing and growing in a way that gives us My people, thank
equal access. It is our God-given talent and right to look at the you for your
disparities and disenfranchisement. When we look beyond beautiful truth!
our current situations we can see the systemic circumstances
that are designed to prevent us from excelling in the ways that Be Safe and Stay Strong,
other populations have. We cannot create systemic change
alone and this is a note to encourage us to work WITH Janetta Johnson
other grassroots, accountable organizations, collectives, and Executive Director
Good News
October 2015 aspect of human development. Most to say the least,” she wrote “A calming
importantly, it may put young people euphoria of appreciation and thanks
• The National Portrait Gallery at the at risk of serious harm.” washed over me.”
Smithsonian Institution added its
first portrait of transgender liberation November 2015
movement elder, Sylvia Rivera. The
portrait by Luis Carle went up in the • A recent research presentation
beginning of October as part of the at the conference of the American
“Struggle for Justice” exhibition. The Physiological Society called
photo shows Sylvia with her partner “Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Bianca Bailey Sawyer. Photo via Facebook
Julia Murray and Christina Hayworth Diseases: Physiology and Gender”
at the New York City Pride March suggests that trans women who take Sawyer lobbied for the transfer with
in 2000. Sylvia is revered in trans hormones and have also had sex the assistance of West Coast Prison
community as a crucial figure in the reassignment surgery may be less Justice Society (WCPJ), a group based
trans liberation movement from her likely to develop metabolic diseases in Burnaby that provides legal aid to
participation in the Stonewall riots, to than people who use hormones but prisoners across Canada. This move
her work supporting street based trans don’t have any surgeries. sets up other trans women to also go
people and advocating for the rights through the same process to access a
of incarcerated trans people. • Marisela Castro is a Honduran transfer.
trans woman who has been fighting
to live in the United States after December 2015
fearing for her life in Honduras. The
Atlanta Immigration Court finally • The New York City Commission on
granted a withholding of removal Human Rights released new guidance
and protection under the Convention that clarifies gender discrimination
Against Torture claiming that Castro under the NYC Human Rights Law.
Sylvia Rivera (with Christina Hayworth and would “more likely that not” suffer This shift has made it one of the
Julia Murray) by Luis Carle via the Advocate persecution if she was forced to return strongest protections for trans and
to Honduras. gender non-conforming people in
• A federal government report the country. Included are fines of up
released in early October by the • Ecuador is changing their to $250,000 for each violation. The
Substance Abuse and Mental Health identification documents to new guidance describes many ways
Services Administration (SAMHSA) list people’s gender identities as employers, landlords and business
is calling for an end to practicing “masculine” or “feminine” instead of owners could violate the law. They
conversion or reparative therapy “male” and “female” as an attempt to include:
for queer and trans young people. be inclusive of trans and non-binary
The report says that young people people. Intentionally failing to use an
should “be supported in their right individual’s preferred name, pronoun
to explore, define, and articulate • The prison system in British or title.
their own identity.” Moreover, Columbia, Canada transferred a trans Refusing to allow individuals to use
the report states that “conversion woman named Bianca Sawyer from a single-sex facilities, such as bathrooms
therapy perpetuates outdated views men’s prison to a women’s prison. This or locker rooms, and participate in
of gender roles and identities as is the first time that a trans woman single-sex programs, consistent with
well as the negative stereotype that who had not had sex reassignment their gender identity.
being a sexual or gender minority or surgery was granted a transfer. “When Enforcing dress codes, uniforms,
identifying as LGBTQ is an abnormal I was called for transfer I was ecstatic and grooming standards that impose

1 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

different requirements based on sex or competing, and maintain regulated • Lilly Wachowski, half of the famous
gender. testosterone levels for the remainder duo behind the Matrix movies and
of their Olympic eligibility. hit series Sense8 came out publicly
Failing to providing employee health as trans in an open letter. Wachowski’s
benefits that cover gender-affirming • Britney Austin won a discrimination letter mocked the transphobic,
care or failing to provide reasonable settlement against her employer. sensationalist and often violent articles
accommodations for individuals Austin received slurs, had her access that news sources publish when a
undergoing gender transition, to the women’s restroom denied, and famous person comes out as a trans.
including medical appointments was barred from changing her name
and recovery, where such reasonable on company records. The National April 2016
accommodations are provided to Check-Printing Company will pay her
other employees. $115,000, plus issue her a personal
apology and change its policies for
• A new surgery could allow trans transgender employees, under a
women to give birth to children if settlement agreement approved by a
it was adjusted. Cleveland clinic is federal judge in Minnesota.
performing uterus transplant surgery
on cis women who were born without February 2016 • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the
a womb or whose uterus is diseased or
malfunctioning. While it’s still in the 4th Circuit deferred to the U.S.
The Court of Appeals in Beirut,
research stages, Swedish scientists have Education Department’s position
Lebanon ruled in favor of a trans
transplanted uteri from live donors that trans students should be able
man gaining access to change his
and achieved five pregnancies and to use a restroom that matches their
legal paperwork and granting him
four live births. Trans women who gender identity in defense of high
access to trans healthcare. This is the
take hormones would likely be able to school student Gavin Grimm. The
first time a Lebanese appeals court
adapt to this procedure because they department has said that requiring
has rules specifically in support of
have high levels of progesterone and trans students to use a restroom that is
a trans person’s right to healthcare.
estrogen. There is little known about designated for someone of a different
Organizers in Beirut are hopeful that
how much it will cost, long-term gender is a violation of Title IX. Title
this will lead to further shifts in the
impacts, and if they would give this IX prohibits sex discrimination at
way trans people can receive care.
surgery to trans women. school that receive federal funding

March 2016 May 2016

January 2016
• Transgender athletes will no longer • The U.S. Department of Education
be required to undergo gender and Department of Justice released
reassignment surgery in order to its most detailed guidelines to date
participate in the Olympics. The explaining that if a school receives
International Olympic Committee public funding then they have
(IOC) reportedly updated its obligations to trans students. These
transgender guidelines and they • South Dakota‘s governor vetoed a obligations include using the student’s
are expected to be adopted before bill that would have made the state preferred name and pronouns,
the Summer Olympics in Rio. the first in the U.S. to approve a law ensuring them access to the correct
According to the new guidelines, requiring transgender students to use gendered sports teams, educational
“those who transition from female to bathrooms and locker rooms that opportunities and access to sex-
male are eligible to compete in the match their sex at birth. Republican segregated facilities that correspond
male category without restriction.” Governor Dennis Daugaard shifted with their gender identity (if such a
Trans women have also seen their his initial position on the legislation facility exists). This applies to public
restrictions reduced—those athletes after the ACLU publically criticized K-12 schools as well as colleges
now only have to undergo hormone the bill as discriminatory. and universities that receive federal
replacement therapy for a year before funding.

Stiletto 2
June 2016 prostitution-related arrests, along a daily basis,” she says. “On one hand,
with a lack of protection from police. I think trans communities of color
• This year’s Trans March in San Many Black trans people experience have done an amazing job gaining
Francisco was in Dolores Park, as it harassment, and sometimes physical tons of visibility over the last couple
always is. However, the program went a assault. And Black trans people “face of years, while simultaneously having
bit differently than usual. Capitalizing unemployment rates two times the to fight for our basic rights as citizens.
on the shifting moment of trans overall rate for trans people, and up I am happy to be alive in such a time
visibility, California State Senator to four times higher than the general that I can somewhat comfortably be
Mark Leno, Board of Supervisor population,” the group writes. Because my authentic self — but that is not
Scott Weiner and Mayor Ed Lee took of discrimination, half of Black trans enough. Visibility will not be enough.
the stage to speak. Instead of being people have reported they’ve had to There is still tons of work to be done.”
cheered by the crowd, these three sell drugs or become sex workers to
politicians were heckled, swore at, make a living, according to the report. September 2016
mooned and given the middle finger The movement calls for actions to
to. “And why am I a piece of shit?” “stop those discriminatory practices • Limit(less) is a photography project
Leno asked, before scolding someone and protect trans people’s civil by Mikael Owunna documenting the
for giving him the middle finger. fashion and style of queer and trans
Each of these politicians has a Africans in diaspora. “As LGBTQ
long history with passing racist, Africans, we are constantly told
classist, transphobic and violent that being LGBTQ is somehow
policies that negatively impact ‘un-African,’ and this rhetoric is a
trans people. Trans people at this regular part of homophobic and
year’s Trans March returned the transphobic discourse in African
level of care that they have given communities,” he says. “This line
to the community. of thinking, however, is patently
false and exists an artifact of
July 2016 colonization of the African
continent. Identities which would
• The Movement for Black Lives now be categorized as ‘LGBTQ’
released a “Vision for Black have always existed, and being
Lives” platform that articulates LGBTQ does not make us ‘less’
demands the coalition has set for African.” Limit(less) explores
the movement going forward. how LGBTQ African immigrants
It lists six policy demands: navigate their identities and find
End the War on Black People, ways to overcome the supposed
rights, including access to education, “tension” between their LGBTQ and
Reparations, Divest-Invest, Economic healthcare, housing and employment.”
Justice, Community Control, and African identities.
Political Power. It also outlines
specific policy goals regarding Black August 2016 October 2016
queer and trans people: “end to the
war on black trans, queer and gender • Bree Campbell, Executive Director • California became the first state
nonconforming people, including of the Trans Sistas of Color Project and in the nation to adopt legislation
their addition to anti-discrimination board member of Positive Women’s requiring that all single-occupancy
civil rights protections to ensure full Network of USA and Positively Trans restrooms in California businesses,
access to employment, health, housing listed in Most Amazing HIV-positive government buildings, and other
and education.” People of 2016. places of public accommodation
be open to all genders. “Gov. Jerry
The brief points out the “pervasive “The country has wasted too much Brown today signed the legislation,
profiling by police” that Black time focusing on … protecting Assembly Bill 1732, into law, as it
transgender people face, such as cisgender folks from trans people had been approved by both the state
bathroom gender policing and when we are discriminated against on

3 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

Assembly and Senate. It will take effect aims at making transgenders eligible was little, I always loved playing with
March 1, giving the Golden State “the for taking decent jobs and living a dolls,” said Jennings. “It was a great
nation’s most progressive restroom dignified life.” way to show my parents that I was
access law,” notes a press release from a girl, because I could just express
the Transgender Law Center. January 2017 myself as I am. So this really resonates
with me, because it was something so
November 2016 • Trans activist Janet Mock called pivotal in my own journey.”
for intersectional resistance at the
• In anticipation of the presidential Women’s March in Washington, D.C. March 2017
inauguration and the assured roll following the inauguration. “I stand
backs of rights that trans people here today because I am my sister’s • Brooklyn –based DJ Maya Bouldry-
have won, there is a national push keeper,” she said. “Our approach to Morrison, also known as her DJ name
to support trans people in changing freedom need not be identical, but it Octo Octa released a new album
their legal documents if they choose must intersectional and inclusive. It “Where Are We Going?” This is
to do so. Lawyers across the country must extend beyond ourselves.” Maya’s first album since coming out
are donating their time to help trans as trans and purposefully included
people fill out legal name and gender images of herself in the album to push
marker change paperwork and apply back against the culture of electronic
for new identification documents. music. “For a long time I never took
TGIJP in collaboration with the St. pictures of myself because I didn’t like
James Infirmary and TAJA’s Coalition my body,” she says. “It’s only been a
held a legal clinic for members of our couple of years now, especially since
Mock praised trans liberation
communities. publicly transitioning, that I’ve finally
trancestors Marsha P. Johnson and
felt OK with how I look.”
Sylvia Rivera, who were at the
December 2016 Stonewall riots and called for increased
visibility for disabled people and sex April 2017
workers. “Collective liberation and
solidarity is difficult,” she said. “It is
work that will find us struggling with
each other—and struggling against
each other.”

Kalki Subrahmaniam speaking at the opening of • In one of his final acts in office,
the Sahaj school, via President Obama commuted most • Tamara Adrian became the first
• A residential school called Sahaj of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for trans person to be elected to office
International in the city of Kochi, leaking secret government documents. in Venezuela and one of the first in
India has opened to support trans Manning’s 35-year sentence was the all of South America. Adrian’s first
people who dropped out of school longest ever imposed on a leaker. order of business is to push legislative
finish their education. Approximately Chelsea frequently reported that she advancements for LGBTI people
half of all trans people in India fail was mistreated in the men’s prison — which have been absent during the 17
to complete schooling as a result of denied exercise, subjected to bullying, years of the Chavist domination of the
harassment and hostility. The school forced to adhere to male grooming National Assembly.
welcomes 10 students who are 25-50. standards, and punished for having
radical reading materials.
The students are prepared for India’s May 2017
Class 10 and 12 board exams and
some vocational skills. February 2017 • The Northern Australian city
Darwin had its first Miss First Nation,
Vijayraja Mallika, a trans person who • The world’s first transgender doll a pageant for Indigenous sistagirls
heads the school said “The school modelled on the US trans teen Jazz (a term used for Aboriginal trans
Jennings was created. “Ever since I femmes). Launched by Miss Ellaneous,

Stiletto 4
the event showcases the talent of local July 2017 said immigration minister Ahmed
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hussen.
queens and trans women. “Generally
though there is a lack of opportunity • London Jade released a new album
and/or showcasing platforms for these called “Witch Hoe” which reflects
queens and sistagirls,” Ellaneous said. her struggles through fighting
“I feel that nationally there is still a for her gender identity, surviving
lack of understanding and education incarceration as a young person and
around Aboriginal and Torres Strait breaking free of abusive romantic
Islander people including their relationships.
• On July 27th, Janetta Johnson,
culture, heritage, and history. We
Executive Director of TGI Justice
are still a deeply racist country that
Project and Monica James, National November 2017
has not made peace with the past
Organizer of Black and Pink keynoted
atrocities. It’s hard enough just being • On November 7th, trans women
the International Conference on Penal
Black, so imagine being Black, queer, won historic victories in three state
Abolition. Their keynote centered
and a drag queen.” elections. In Virginia, Danica Roem
around the experiences of currently
and formerly incarcerated Black trans became the first openly transgender
June 2017 women and the importance centering state lawmaker in the country, beating
Black trans women in the abolition the transphobic veteran politician
movement. who wrote the state’s (failed) trans
bathroom bill.
ICOPA is an international conference
that has toured the world for 23 In Minneapolis, MN, Andrea Jenkins
years bringing together prisoners, became the first transgender woman
former prisoners, prisoners’ families of color to be elected to public office
and communities most affected by winning 73 % of the votes in the City
the criminal legal system. In its long Council race. In Palm Springs, CA,
history ICOPA has only been hosted Lisa Middleton won a seat on the
in the United States once despite town’s city council, making her the
being home to the largest criminal first openly transgender candidate
legal system in the world. This year’s elected to a non-judicial office in the
theme was Abolition and its Ghosts: state’s history.
• Four protesters were arrested at Historic Memory and Ongoing
Columbus Pride in Ohio who are Struggles Against Colonialism and
being referred to as the Black Pride 4. Slavery.
Organizers attended the pride parade
to protest the acquittal of Jeronimo
Yanez, a police officer who murdered
August 2017
Philando Castile during a traffic stop.
• Canadians are now able to identify
They were also raising awareness of
as gender neutral on their passports by
the violence against trans women of
using an “X” category, joining those in
color. The organizers joined arms and
Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta,
blocked the parade, explaining that
New Zealand and Pakistan. India,
they wanted seven minutes of silence
Ireland and Nepal. “All Canadians
– one minute for each bullet that
should feel safe to be themselves, live
Yanez shot at Castile.
according to their gender identity and
express their gender as they choose,”

5 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

Black Lives Matter & the Movement
For Black Lives: Current Events
October 2015 No New SF Jail Coalition, a victory 96 Hours of Action throughout the
was won when the San Francisco duration of Martin Luther King
Trans day of resilience Board of Supervisors voted to reject weekend, January 15-18. The call was
Initiated by BreakOut, #TDoR, a $80 million in new jail construction. “to meaningfully interrupt business
national day of action was led locally This victory was was won through as usual whether that be with direct
by TGIJP and TAJA’s Coalition. strong, consistent organizing and action, teach-ins, concerts or prayer
#HereToStay “Denying Shelter and an engagement of hundreds of vigils and to do so with action logic
Dignity to Black Trans Women is a community members through various that links our resistance to fighting
Weapon in the War on Black People” actions, including town halls, call- racism, economic injustice, and
was our local message, as we, with the in campaigns, and a direct action imperialism.” Demands lifted up
help of the Black Out Collective and shutting down a Board of Supervisor’s ranged from an “immediate end to the
our community, strategically escalated meeting in December 2015. rampant and violent criminalization,
our engagements with Episcopal incarceration and police murders of
Community Services, demanding January 2016 Black and Brown transgender and
and winning: the hiring of trans gender nonconforming people” to the
people so the staff better represents ring of [Former] Oakland Police Chief
Combahee Alliance /
the community being served; Sean Whent & [Former] San Francisco
Tennessee Trip Police Chief Greg Suhr. Actions
establishment of a trans inclusion TThe Combahee Alliance includes
council to review complaints of anti- throughout the weekend included a
Transgender, Gender Varient &
trans prejudice; work towards ending mobilization to Mayor Libby Schaaf ’s
Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), Black
anti-trans culture; and expansion of house in Oakland, a mobilization to
Lives Matter (BLM), Southerners on
safe access to shelter housing. Sean Whent’s house in Brentwood, a
New Ground (SONG), Community
march of thousands throughout West
Justice Network for Youth (CJNY),
Oakland and Emeryville, and the
December 2015 The BlackOUT! Collective, The
shutdown of the Bay Bridge.
Highlander Research and Education
Black Xmas Center, and The Ruckus Society. This
In 2015, on December 23rd, one of is direct action training project trains April 2016
the busiest days of the holiday season, justice-loving freedom fighters to
Black communities across the United use creative tactics to engage targets, Frisco5 + Frisco500
States took brave actions to impede rapidly respond in critical movement On April 21, 2016, five San Francisco
the flow of goods and commerce moments, and build the power and residents began a hunger strike at the
with peaceful protests calling for an capacity of organizers across the doors of the Mission Police Station.
immediate overhaul of the justice nation. We are in an exciting political They demanded that the SFPD
system both locally and nationally moment where risky interventions stop killing Black & Brown people
while demanding accountability for are necessary, Black leadership must throughout the city and start the
police, removal of grand juries in be invested in, and Black and Brown journey towards that goal with the
cases involving police shootings, an unity must be built. The first phase of firing of [Former] Police Chief Greg
immediate halt to militarized police the training brought 60 Black folx and Suhr. After 16 days, the Hunger
units and weapons, and extensive people of color from the organizations [Strike] for Justice in San Francisco
reviews of racialized police practices in of the Combahee Alliance together for became the longest hunger strike in
Black neighborhoods. a 5-day training in January 2016. San Francisco history. During the
time of the hunger strike, there was
SF Jail Fight Victory! 96 hours of Actions a solidarity mobilization garnering
After 2 years of organizing with the For the second year in a row, the the participation of thousands of
Anti-Police Terror Project called for residents from throughout the Bay

Stiletto 6
BLM Current Events Continued...
Area and an occupation of city hall by continuously disintegrating safety of November 2016
a multigenerational, Black & Brown- LGBTQ young folks in New Orleans.
led group of organizers, activists, and Trump Elected President
generally caring people. Out of the Week of Action to Stop, Stay, Trump elected President.
SF City Hall occupation was birthed and Expand
a group now known as the Frisco500. From June 13-17, a coalition of
organizations in Oakland called
December 2016
June 2016 for a week of action targeting “the
Backing Black Business
repressive policies and practices of the
[Libby] Schaaf administration” in an BLM launches BackingBlackBusiness,
BLM organizer Jasmine a website designed to support the
Abdullah Targeted & effort to “fight back against private
interests and large developers who development and ownership of black
Convicted of ‘Attempted businesses.
are displacing families and driving
lynching’ up rents”. Demands throughout the
“After months of targeting and
harassment by Pasadena Police and
week were for “immediate protections January 2017
for renters, redirecting City money to
the Los Angeles County District
Attorney in Pasadena, Black Lives
protect low wage workers and public Reclaiming MLK’s Radical
education around connection between Legacy
Matter organizer, Jasmine Abdullah,
police terror, displacement and the BLM participates in a series of actions
AKA Jasmine Richards, was
impact on our schools/young people”. nationally on Martin Luther King Jr.
convicted of attempted lynching”
( Legally, day weekend. These actions lead up to
Actions included visioning nights January 20th, inauguration day for the
lynching is defined as taking, by
on the East 12th St & Lake Merritt President. BLM participates in a series
means of a riot, any person from the
Blvd Land Parcel, a march to and of actions on inauguration day as well;
lawful custody of any peace officer.
occupation of Oakland City Hall, Trump introduces an executive order
Several people organized around
and an Oakland Police Department banning people from certain Muslim
Jasmine’s court case and appearances,
(OPD) Shut Down. countries from entering the US.
packing the court, providing court
support, and more. Although she was BLM is part of massive outpouring of
sentenced with approximately three September 2016 resistance at various airports across the
months in jail, Jasmine is now home, country in opposition to the ban.
free on bail. BLM in Solidarity with
NoDAPL March 2017
No Pride for BreakOUT BLM releases a statement in solidarity
After being named a grand marshal with Standing Rock and sends a Protecting Trans Women
for the 2016 New Orleans Pride delegation to North Dakota to BLM launches a call to the network
Parade, BreakOUT, a radical, support protesters fighting the Dakota to Protect Trans Women. Releases a
resistance-based organization fighting Access Pipeline; Colin Kaepernick statement as well.
the criminalization of LGBTQ youth, of the San Francisco 49ers takes a
pulled out. Although they planned knee during the national anthem to
protest Black lives being killed by
April 2017
to march in Pride under a banner
reading, “How can we walk down police; Keith Lamont Scott is killed in
the aisle when we can’t walk down Charlotte, North Carolina by police. Environmental Justice is
the street” (, the Protests ensue and are met with police Black Liberation
organization pulled out in resistance aggression; Court support for Justice BLM participates in People’s Climate
to the increased police presence at 4 Kayla Moore. March, a multi-sector march held in
Pride, which is directly related to the multiple cities to raise awareness of

7 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

climate change and how our current municipal land for the benefit of black pushed the city to tear down a statue
reliance on coal and oil contribute communities. of a confederate soldier. This results in
to it; BLM participates in, as well struggle in streets between the white
as critiques, the Women’s march July 2017 supremacists and anti-racists where a
- a multi-city march held globally young woman is run over and killed
that highlighted women’s issues and by white supremacists. Other white
4 Years of BLM
targeted the president for his anti- supremacist marches are announced
BLM turns 4 years old!!!
woman policy proposals. in cities across the nation. BLM in
Boston organizes a counter-
May 2017 protest that draws around
40,000, effectively shutting
down the white supremacists. A
Mama’s Day Bail Out
wave of direct actions is sparked
BLM organizations participate
nationally where people start
in the Mama’s Day Bail Out -
tearing down monuments to
where they drew attention the
ways in which the bail system
disproportionately affects Black
mothers. The organizations raised September 2017
several tens of thousands of dollars
nationally and then partnered Taking a Knee Against
with local organizations who Police Killings
were advocating for community
members identified as “mama’s” The protest style of Colin
to bail them out of jail; Kaepernick spreads as multiple
Documentary Whose Streets? sports team members from NFL
released, which tells the story of to high school basketball team
the uprisings on the ground in members take a knee during
Ferguson, MO after Mike Brown national anthem to protest police
was murdered by police; Officer killings of Black people.
that shot Tamir Rice is fired.
October 2017
June 2017
FBI Targets Black
Black Land and Organizing
Liberation Black Identity Extremists listed
BLM participates in a Pride/ as threat group by the Federal
Father’s Day Bail out - focusing on Bureau of Investigation.
fathers and LGBTQ community August 2017
members; BLM participates in
a Juneteenth action. Juneteenth Counterprotest to White
celebrates the emancipation of Black Supremacist March
people from slavery. The action is Organized white supremacists hold a
titled the Black Land and Liberation rally in Charlottesville, VA after locals
Initiative - a project where multiple
groups nationally built useable
structures on pieces of unclaimed

Stiletto 8
Last Year’s Struggle Around Police Involvement in Pride
In Response To Increased Policing of Civic Center, Grand
Marshals, Awardees Withdraw From Pride Parade
Multiple Pride honorees state that increased policing every day to find solutions. We know
and militarized security makes LGBTQI communities the militarization of large-scale events
of color unsafe at Pride Celebration. only gives the illusion of safety. We
are choosing to do the real work
San Francisco, CA – In light of Friday. “While I am thankful for of building safe communities” said
last year’s announcement that PRIDE this honor, and grateful to Pride Shanelle Matthews, a member of Black
participants would be subject to for bringing our work to the front Lives Matter, who also announced
increased policing, metal detectors this year, the decision to add more their withdrawal from the parade.
and discretionary admittance, several police to Pride does not make me,
Grand Marshals and awardees of the or my community, more safe” The St. James Infirmary, which was
“racial & economic justice” themed Johnson said. slated to receive the Heritage of Pride
event withdrew from Award at the main stage
participation in the Pride on Sunday, echoed the
Parade or Civic Center concerns of the Grand
activities because of the Marshals. “LGBT sex
unsafe conditions created workers are often victims of
for our communities by violence and exploitation
law enforcement. In the at the hands of police”
aftermath of the Orlando said Executive Director
shooting that took the Stephany Ashley. “The
lives of dozens of queer, increased police presence
trans and gender non- at Civic Center, as well
conforming people of as the ban on shopping
color, many people in our carts and items typically
community are afraid. belonging to marginally
For us, celebrating Pride housed and homeless
meant choosing between people will only make pride
the threat of homophobic less safe and accessible to
vigilante violence and the our communities. These
threat of police violence. policies do not reflect
We had a tough decision the theme of racial &
to make, and ultimately we economic justice which
chose to keep our people we sought to march under
safe by not participating proudly.”
in any event that would leave our Other honorees also recognized
communities vulnerable to either. the increased concerns about The move comes a week after Grand
safety several argued that a greater Marshals of the New Orleans Pride
Grand Marshal Janetta Johnson, police presence would increase Parade, BreakOUT! announced
Executive Director of the TGI Justice the likelihood of violence against they would not be marching because
Project- an organization by and for queer and trans people of color. increased law enforcement made its
trans, gender non-conforming and “In the Bay Area, and the rest of members—predominantly young
intersex people in prisons, jails and the country, Black communities trans people of color—feel unsafe to
detention centers - announced her experience real fear and terror at do so. In addition to a 25% increase
decision to withdraw from the parade the hands of homophobic vigilantes in local law enforcement (both in
at a PRIDE press conference on and law enforcement, and we work uniform and undercover), federal

9 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

law enforcement agencies are also we matter, our actions matter, that needs house keys not handcuffs,
scheduled to be on site at the Civic we can work together to create a needs care not cages, needs jobs and
Center events. different future. But I just don’t feel job training, economic power and
comfortable accepting being in this cultural self-determination. We need
In closing Janetta Johnson thanked parade. I walk in my neighborhood safety, real safety. And when Black
SF PRIDE for their collaboration and see so many people sleeping on trans women are safe, in our city, in
and understanding, “I am so honored the street. I know come Sunday, they our society, every single day. When
that the community selected me. It won’t be allowed to be here and many my community is safe, then we can be
is important that other Black trans will be in jail. Particularly, in the San really proud.”
women, especially younger girls Francisco County Jail. But I can’t
and especially formerly incarcerated even bring myself to call it housing
Black trans women, know that really, the truth is my community

MAJOR! World Premier

On November 13th, 2015 the feature length documentary MAJOR! had it’s World Premiere as part of the San
Francisco Transgender Film Festival. Over 1,200 people filled the historic Castro Theater to watch the story of Miss
Major Griffin- Gracy’s life and campaigns, including friends, family, and staff from TGIJP. Over 100 tickets were
donated to community members to attend the screening. Miss Major received a standing ovation before when she
was introduced before the film,and received a five minute standing ovation at the conclusion of the film.

Since its premiere last November, MAJOR! has been touring the world and has screened at festivals in India,
Canada, and throughout the United States, with more screenings scheduled throughout 2017. The film is being
met with critical and audience acclaim, and at the time of press had won Best Documentary at QFest New Jersey;
Best U.S. Documentary at Queer Hippo Houston; both jury and audience awards for Best Documentary at Wicked
Queer Boston, and the Public Award for Best Film at Massimadi Afro-Caribbean Film Festival Montreal.
In June, Miss Major will travel to Toronto, Canada for the film’s premiere at InsideOut, and later in June she’ll be
a guest of honor at Outfest Peru. Upcoming screenings in 2017 include Glasgow, Scotland; Atlanta; Los Angeles
and New York City.

Stiletto 10
House Keys Not Handcuffs!
But also Harm Reduction Housing in the Meantime!?!

One of the projects that TGIJP has be? Would it be open to trans men, and changes could you see that would
been putting considerable time into women, and non-binary people? expand safety as you survive the time?
has been shifting the housing policy
for the San Francisco County Jail. Another issue we see across the board Lastly, and to be clear, TGIJP
With our partners at the Transgender is that TGI peoples’ security levels get knows that TGI peoples’ safety and
Law Center, TAJA’s Coalition, and the escalated because of our genders and incarceration go together like oil and
National Center for Lesbian Rights, because of us having to water- they do not
we have been able to articulate a policy survive violence inside mix. While that is our
that allows housing based on gender the system. While How might truth, we also want to
identity rather than police perception we are working to improve the realities
or government documentation. more fully understand
transgender and lives of people we
Unlike what the media may have you how classification housing exist love while not enabling
believe, the policy has neither been happens, and/or can without giving the system to expand
accepted or implemented yet, but it be engaged, we are also its reach, control
has been vetted through community aware that a lot of our their system and exploitation of
and is more detailed than to force folks are missing out reason to build our lives. The people
women into women’s housing and on or kept ineligible at TGIJP want and
men into men’s. This housing policy for programming
more cells or need our community
creates space for gender identity, due to their security spaces for our to come home to us
allows for intersex peoples’ informed risks. Which is a community? on the outside; we
navigation of a binary business. double edged sword want all people to be
as you know because in community and
One of the main issues we keep programming helps experiencing care. We
coming back to and hearing folks reduce actual risk and increase chances want to see restorative justice practices
chime in on is the idea of transgender to survive, parole, etc. Anyways, what and community accountability grow.
housing. We are stuck because we do do y’all think about how the yard/s We want to see safety and economic
not know how to put forward new would navigate mixed custody/risk opportunity for our people. We want
and creative ideas without a safety level of people? How could mixed to see you! So be safe and stay strong,
plan knowing the CDCR and other security trans housing fit under and if you have time/space/capacity,
places will do everything they can to corrections logics of division around let us know what you think about this
twist our ideas and words into their containment? If this is something housing strategy question.
own drive to expand and grow and that is desired, can you help us on the
cage more of our community. outside understand the specifics of Thanks, TGIJP family!
We are wondering what you think of the vision? The details of the fears of
the idea of transgender housing? How close but not quite and now we’re in
can that exist without giving their a worse bind? What type of situation
system reason to build more cells or
spaces for our community? (We say
frequently that we know that no cage
is a good cage, and if they build a bed
they will fill a bed.) What would it
look like to have a TGI yard or two
at a facility? Which facility should it

11 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

Updates on Solitary Confinement
In our last issue of Stiletto, there was an article one who had spent over 10 years in
solitary was immediately released to
about the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike and the massive the general prison setting, regardless of
organizing efforts by people in California prisons to recent offenses.
fight back against the horrifying conditions in solitary 4. A new alternative to solitary, the
confinement. Restricted Custody General Population
Unit (RCGP), was established in
Solitary confinement has continued Last year, California saw an incredible California for people with safety
to be a buzzword in the recent past settlement agreement in the Ashker concerns who can’t go to the SNY
months. As you may have heard, there v. Brown case, emerging out of the yard, and for people who are unable
have been many changes to the law and historic hunger strikes and organizing to complete the step-down program.
policies affecting solitary confinement of imprisoned people inside Pelican People currently in RCGP are
participating in small group education.
and housing on a national level, on a Bay State Prison - a fight that TGI
state-by-state level and in the county people were involved in. 5. Extensive solitary will be limited, and
jails. We know that TGI people are those in solitary will get more time
very often put into administrative The case ended indefinite solitary out of their cells. There is a small
segregation and secure housing units confinement and regulates the use of Administrative-SHU which is solitary
(SHU) purely because of gender solitary. The settlement monitoring and is limited to a small group of
people for disciplinary reasons and
identity, and often under the guise period is coming to a close on
can only be applied to someone by the
of “for your own safety,” even though October 15th 2017. CDCR is in the Departmental Review Board.
that is not allowed under the Prison process of drafting regulations to meet
Rape Elimination Act (PREA). the requirements under the Ashker Although over 2,000 people have
Settlement Agreement. been released from, SHU since the
On the federal level, in the summer settlement. Many of them are going
of 2015, Obama initiated a review of The Center for Constitutional Rights to Level 4 facilities and reporting
the use of solitary confinement across summarized the changes determined that they still get very little time out
U.S. prisons. Based on the findings of by the settlement into five main of their cell (not so different from
this review, the Attorney General and points: solitary itself ). People can still be held
the Federal Justice Department made in Ad-seg for “safety reasons.”
the following new recommendations: 1. Solitary will be used as a punishment
for bad behavior, not for suspected
gang status alone. TGIJP wants to know, what are your
• no solitary confinement for juveniles
• no solitary as punishment for breaking
experiences with solitary confinement?
minor rules 2. After serving their defined SHU term, How have your experiences with
• more mental health care “validated gang affiliates” who are solitary been affected by your gender
• more time outside of their cells for found guilty of a SHU-eligible offense identity? What do you think about
people in solitary will enter a faster 24 month SHU step-
these new laws? We know they are
down program to return to the general
prison population. not enough, what would you want
As of 2016, there were 10,000 people to see differently? What do you see as
currently in federal solitary, hopefully 3. California reviewed all current gang- TGIJP’s role in these changing laws
these new rules change state policies validated SHU prisoners to decide and policies on solitary confinement,
and the way the federal prison system who should be released from solitary. housing and classification? We want
treats people. This resulted in approximately 90% of to hear from you!
people who had been in SHU for gang
validation being released to general
population units. Also, almost every-

Stiletto 12
Jail Fight Update: We Won!
In the last issue of Stiletto, we laid out work that the $215M loan to construct the
jail. Simultaneously, the city was
TGIJP was engaged in as part of the No New SF Jail
proposing that the jail be reimagined
Coalition to fight the plan to build a new jail to replace as a mental health jail specifically.
the current one that stands at 850 Bryant in downtown The proposed facility would have 384
San Francisco, CA. beds as opposed to the initial 904. We
knew that this
When we left off in November was supposed
2015, San Francisco Board of to appease us,
Supervisors had decided to but we would
apply for the $80M the State not accept
of California could loan the anything but
city in order to build a new absolutely no
facility. While this was a beds and no
significant setback, we were jail.
committed to stopping the
jail – so we laid out a plan The coalition
and got to work. knew that it
would come
Arguing at the down to the
decision by the
state level San Francisco
Board of
On November 2 2016, the Supervisors –
California State Executive so we began
Steering Committee SF and other counties across the state, to push them
recommended that SF county receive and then shut the meeting down when hard – really challenging the assertion
the $80M in construction funds for they insisted on moving forward with by the Capitol Planning Committee,
a new jail. We were disappointed awarding the money even though we Sheriff and Mayor that a mental
but not surprised and geared up protested. health jail would be the answer.
fight the funds at every point that
we could. The Board of State and
Community Corrections (BSCC),
Because the money did go to SF, Turning up the
the next place to intervene was SF’s
which is responsible for distributing Capitol Planning committee, where
pressure in SF
jail construction funds, was the next they would decide whether to accept
place the No New SF Jail Coalition the funds that were distributed. As On December 2 2015, the Budget
could go in order to fight to stop the the capitol planning committee was and Finance committee of the Board
distribution of the funds. invested in receiving more funds for of Supervisors in San Francisco was to
their plans to move forward, we knew decide on whether to approve funding
The No New SF Jail coalition it was unlikely that they would heed on moving the jail project forward.
moved on the BSCC in Sacramento, our opposition now that the BSCC We knew that we needed to stop this
mobilizing alongside communities had released funds to them. vote if we could. And so we did. The
across the state of California to stop coalition shut the meeting down and
$500M in funding being distributed Even though the city received the took the chambers to pressure the
for jail expansion. We had a strong funds, the city had to vote to approve Board of Supervisors to delay the
show out to rally, advocate for the using the funds as well as taking on decision until a vote with the entire
BSCC to not distribute the funds to Board. This would give us a chance to

13 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

move the new Board members and do carried us to victory. We appreciate the way the coalition
a final presentation by the Coalition truly valued our work and leadership.
on alternatives to building a new jail. While it took some time for San
Francisco to reject the $80M loan from While the fight to stop the jail is
On December 15 2015, the full Board the state of California they eventually won, shaping what will take its place
of Supervisors was scheduled to meet. came through. The money was slated instead of a jail has only begun. We
After years of struggle against the specifically for jail construction and are currently involved in the work
jail, amidst all of the controversy that could not be used for anything else. to envision and recommend what
we’d been able to generate around concrete alternatives would actually
the proposed facility and against TGIJP is proud to have participated bring everyone home and reduce
the backdrop of growing resistance in such a strong fight. We appreciate recidivism. We will continue until San
to prisons, police and the impact the ways the coalition really brought Francisco invests in true alternatives
on Black, Brown, poor and trans the struggles of trans people inside for trans people and all people.
communities, we prepared for what jails to the center of the conversation.
would be a definitive decision.

The final say

The coalition made sharp and smart
arguments, from our variety of
perspectives, against the proposed
mental health jail. We argued for mental
health care in the community, more
housing in San Francisco, bail reform
and pre-trial diversion. We argued
against the ongoing criminalization
of Black people, Latino people, poor
and homeless people and trans and
gender-nonconforming people. We
argued for San Francisco to invest in
the communities we represented and
not through a jail.

Much to our surprise, the supervisors

decided to vote in our favor. After 3
years of struggle, we’d won.

What comes next

We didn’t accept when they reduced
the beds, we didn’t accept when it
was reimagined as a mental health
facility. We didn’t accept any of their
arguments for a smaller, nicer, service
laden jail. Our continued call for no
new jail and accepting nothing less

Stiletto 14
Letters from the Inside

Sleeping Beauties nothing if we don’t come together and Detrimental

By Ms. Nina demand justice and equality? There is By Fatima Malika Shabazz
power in numbers, at any given time
Hey Girls. This is Nina coming your there are over 300 transgenders in The first thing that “all” prisoners
way from Mulecreek. I’m a proud prison here in California. We have to need to understand is that when it’s all
strong trans woman. This article is my organize, we need to build a network. said and done, we are all in the same
tool to sound the alarm to all my sistas Sistas this is our time! Please feel me boat, when the boat sinks you all go
behind the wall. The time has come on this if we don’t rally C.D.C.R will down together. As it happens, that
to rise above the status quo and open not honor the settlement, they will not boat also includes gay and transgender
your eyes to what’s really going on. accommodate us. Why? Because we people as well. However where “we” as
are a fractured community and they transgender and gay men and women
Our Brothas and sistas are out there (C.D.C.R) knows as things stand now are concerned, if we ever really expect
in those dangerous streets protesting, there will be nothing more than a few people to take us seriously, respect us
advocating, and demonstrating for 602’s written on the issue. Girls please and recognize our power, we really
our rights and our freedom. I ask don’t allow our struggle, our fight, our need to operate from a far greater
what have we done to advance the existence to become a footnote on a position of “self dignity and self
trans movement? I praise the few C.D.C.R memo. respect.”
girls behind that wall that’s pushing
forward, but there are too many We need each other, I know I need I know I mention this a lot, that’s
transgenders that’s only focused on you, all my Girls! Please stand next because it is important. People respond
the trivial drama that plague these to me, please be better than our “visually” to their surroundings and the
prison yards. I call on all the real current situation, elevate your focus, people in them. Victims of robberies
Queens to stop living a stereotype. mend bridges with your sistas and are often victims because they look
Embrace these young girls coming stand together and be treated as the as if they can be victimized; likewise
in and educate them on what it truly strong women we are. Nothing that’s people who are victims of disrespect
means to be a BOSS QUEEN! Realize worth having comes easy or free. If are often (not always) but often victims
we are fighting the same fight and we can’t stand up and work together because they purport themselves as
dealing with the same discrimination, for our own preservation then our though they can be disrespected.
so why are we tripping each other up? very existence means nothing more When we as a community fracture
To not love your sisters is a form of than the C.D.C.R number we are our community we create situations
self hatred. The lack of action by the identified by. that allow outside “haters” to move
trans community in prison has been into position setting the stages for
nothing less than a slap in the face to In closing I want all my girls to know the old divide and conquer tactic. We
the whole L.G.B.T.Q. community that we are all a reflection of each other. must no longer allow this happen to
that’s out there standing on the front Join me and stand up and be counted! us. The GLBTQ community wields
lines of the trans revolution. We are And I promise you our reflection will an enormous amount of power, it
on the bubble of receiving relief in resemble the presence of who we really can best be put to use if we realize
the form of cosmetics, clothing, and are STRONG and PROUD TRANS that we all have certain talent and are
S.R.S. WOMEN, and that’s the real “T”. allowed to best use that talent in ways
that make us all feel useful, when you
Do you girls know that C.D.C.R deny us that right you make us feel as
agreed to a settlement that allow though you are being condescending
us to have all these items? Do you and dismissive, and no one wants to
understand that we will not receive feel like that. Those who are made

15 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

to feel like this, quickly move from refuse to be detrimental to my people years.
being your biggest ally, to your most or our cause.
dangerous adversary; consider this the The dichotomy of our personalities
next time you as a gay male look down Thoughts and Caring and beings – it can be a change to
your nose at a trans woman as inferior By KAT function at all with any sense of
or as a (fake) woman. normality. Although many would
Insecurity is a trademark of any creative say there is nothing normal about
The same applies to lesbian woman person and LGBTs themselves. We any of our lifestyles. Even those of
who view the hardcore “butch” agonize over everything. Even more us who stand out, our humanity gets
woman as imitation men. If these difficult is the task of one who is impugned upon at every turn as well
people were your potential political imprisoned within societies prisons, as our right to live our lives in the
representatives how would you view or within themselves, which often manner we see fit or choose to. For all
them then? What if that person had to amounts to the same thing. life must be viewed from an individual
make a decision on employing you at perspective. What may be right for me,
their place of business? While society has made leaps and may not be right for you. However, we
bounds in Gay Rights the same should always respect another’s right
These are things you have to consider cannot be said inside its prisons where to be what they must.
in your everyday life. In the same homophobia is rampant where being
manner that you are judging other called the casting of slurs on another’s I spent too many years trying to find
people of our community, many person is cause enough for murder, myself or in letting others dictate
people outside our community are assassination of one’s character, to me how and what I should be
judging you, and what’s worse is that morality, and ability to stand up for – irrespective of what or how I felt
most of “these” people are painting us one’s self under adverse conditions or myself to be. As a result much of life
all with the same brush, unfair though circumstances. To be gay is seen as an passed me by or was truncated.
it may be, it is a reality. Now I know expression of weakness – according
that we cannot be the spokepersons to the doctrine of prisons – for in the A prisoner can be anyone – imprisoned
for our entire community. Many of us years gone by and even today being by ideals, doctrines, biology, etc., etc.
are just wild, no doubt about it, but forced to become a homosexual or
we can be representatives of who we sex toy for other prisoners is still Thanks for the thoughts and caring.
are in our best form. very much part of the prison culture.
So that all persons of alternative
I am ecstatic about being a trans lifestyles get tarred by the same brush.
woman, more so that I am African Therefore, many keep their proclivities
American trans woman, I am very hidden as much as possible from
proud of who I am, and (in the face others. While those out there in plain
of a great deal of hate and deception) view must deal with much negativity
I work hard to achieve and maintain and prejudice from staff and other
the highest level of respect and dignity prisoners including the closet LGTBs.
as I possibly can, under “every”
circumstance, but I will be the first None of the abuse does much to boost
to admit that it is not always an easy our self-esteem already ravaged by the
thing to do when fracturing factions slings and arrows that fate and society
among my own ilk seek to destroy had burdened us with in our formative
me for their own selfish benefit, but I

Stiletto 16
Miss Major’s Retirement Party
Trans People in Prison Fight Barriers
to Changing Their Legal Name and
Gender Markers
Written by Victoria Law and originally published in Truthout on 7/11/17.
Reprinted with Truthout and Victoria’s permission. Art by Wripley Bennet

During her 30 years in California’s attempting to change their names and a male name can be degrading and
prison system, Cookie Bivens has seen gender markers. She’s not the only dehumanizing for trans women, and
numerous trans women attempt to one. In California, organizations that can also cause fear and anxiety.
change their name and gender marker support incarcerated trans people have
while incarcerated. Not a single formed a coalition to push legislation Recalling her own time awaiting trial
woman ever succeeded. that benefits in the San Jose County
trans and gender jail, she explained that
In California, people seeking to legally nonconforming jail staff routinely called
change their name or gender marker people behind California’s SB 310 people by their last names.
must file an application with the bars. This year, could ease some But if the person was a
county court and pay a filing fee of the coalition, trans woman, staff would
nearly $500. (A person earning less which includes
of the challenges instead call them by their
than $2,127 per month can file for Bivens, is facing trans legal first name. “If your
a fee waiver.) Once the paperwork throwing its people in prison, legal name was Frederick
is filed, the court sets a hearing date support to Douglass, they would call
within six to 12 weeks. If the court pass SB 310, such as a legal you Frederick,” she said.
receives no objections to the proposed authored by name change.
name and gender marker change, the Sen. Toni Atkins Not only was calling a
petition is granted. (D-San Diego). trans woman by a male
name “a way of agitating and taunting
Incarcerated trans people face an Fighting for Dignity -- Inside people,” explained Johnson, but it
extra hurdle: obtaining approval could often be a precursor to physical
and Out
from the prison’s superintendent and violence. “When you use male names
other administrators. Without that for trans women, outside of prison but
“In prison, we should have the right
approval, they cannot begin the court also in prison, it usually is followed by
to change our names,” Bivens told
process. Watching other trans women an attack or an attempt to harm.” Even
Truthout. “It gives us dignity.”
have their requests denied again and when no physical violence followed,
again, Bivens decided to not even try, being called a male name was often
While incarcerated, Bivens
and to focus instead on getting parole. triggering.
encountered prison staff who referred
to her by her legal (male) name. “It
Bivens has been out of prison for six Determined to stop the practice,
was a way to humiliate and degrade
months and is only now beginning the Johnson wrote a letter to Judge Charles
you,” she recalled. “It just makes you
process of legally changing her name Breyer of the US District Court, who
feel less than human.”
and gender marker. At the same time, was presiding over her case. She told
she wants to be sure that other trans him about the practice and explained
Janetta Louise Johnson is the executive
people have the opportunity denied how it traumatized trans women.
director of the TGI Justice Project, an
to her and the women with whom she “I told him how I always felt under
organization supporting trans, gender
served time. To do that, she’s pushing attack, how it put me on the defensive
variant and intersex people both in
for the Name and Dignity Act, or SB and caused me anxiety and panic
and out of California prisons. She
310, to remove the additional hurdles attacks.” The judge responded by
also understands firsthand how names
that incarcerated people face when warning the jail that if staff continued
have power -- and how being called

19 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

to misgender and misname the trans would expect someone looking
women in custody, he’d make sure different at an interview due to her ID Changing the gender marker on
that their contract to house (and be documents,” Johnson told legislators. identification is a more involved
paid for) federal prisoners was pulled. process requiring a letter from a
The practice stopped. Being both trans and formerly medical professional or social worker
incarcerated have thrown up various attesting that the applicant’s gender
This isn’t a practice limited to roadblocks in that search for a place marker should be changed. The
California. Rev. Jason Lydon is called home. “If they’re not transgender letter need not be long or detailed;
the director of Black and Pink, a friendly, you don’t get [the housing],” it can simply state, “This person has
national organization that works Bivens said. Added to that, she must GID or gender dysphoria. They have
with incarcerated LGBTQ people also explain her lack of credit history, transitioned their gender and the
across the country. “Trans women which means revealing her 30-year appropriate gender marker should be
are intentionally called by their legal incarceration. Bivens has interviewed F.”
first name,” he told Truthout. “Or for several sublets; she’s been turned
they’ll call her Mr. + the last name down for each and every one of them. For those inside prison or jail, obtaining
just to be an asshole.” In contrast, Bivens is currently staying with friends such a letter can be difficult. But, says
when speaking to a cisgender person while continuing her search for more Rev. Jason Lydon, while name changes
in custody, Lydon notes, prison and permanent housing. are a top priority, changes to gender
jail staff do not refer to that person as markers have not been a pressing
“Mr.” or “Ms.” Trans People Behind Bars issue for people returning home in
Face Challenges to Changing
The Name and Dignity Act won’t stop
staff members from using the wrong Names or Gender Markers This might be because Massachusetts
name, gender pronoun or salutation has anti-discrimination laws that
for trans people incarcerated in The process for changing one’s prohibit discrimination based on
California. What it will do is name and gender marker vary gender identity. Laws prohibit denying
remove the additional barriers that from state to state. In some states, a trans person access to housing or
incarcerated trans people face when incarcerated trans people don’t need homeless shelters. Both public and
attempting to change their names and to seek permission from prison private programs that receive funding
gender markers, giving them the same administrators before filing with the from the Department of Health are
access to the court process as people courts. In Massachusetts, for instance, also prohibited from denying entry
who are not incarcerated. It also incarcerated people can petition for to trans women. “That doesn’t mean
smooths the rocky road of reentry. name changes in family court without discrimination doesn’t happen, but
waiting for jail or prison approval. the law gives you some tools to fight
Bivens was fortunate to back,” Lydon says.
get a job with TGI Justice
Project, enabling her to But, he adds, just because
avoid questions about currently and formerly
why the name and gender incarcerated people have
on her identification not identified changes
don’t match her gender to gender markers as a
presentation. But, say priority does not mean
Johnson and Bivens, that it’s unimportant.
many trans women aren’t “We are all coerced to
as lucky. “One of our have state IDs,” Lydon
members told us she did said. “Having one that
not apply for jobs because affirms some aspect of
she was afraid an employer your identity is important.
Prisoners should not need

Stiletto 20
to demand that for that to happen.” Even then, the process is not necessarily said. But even if an applicant lived in
quick or easy. Kinkead estimates that New York City before incarceration,
Other states require more time, effort he files four to six petitions in a six- they must file their petition in the
and money. In New York, there is no month period; most of that time is county of the prison.
court process for a gender change. spent waiting to obtain a certified
Instead, a person must go to each birth certificate in order to complete In Louisiana, however, people who
individual agency separately and the court petition. One client, he told are in prison, on parole or probation
comply with its rules for changing Truthout, filed her petition three years are not allowed to legally change
or correcting a gender marker. There ago; only recently did she receive her their names until they complete their
is, however, a court process for sentence. People who have
name changes, which requires violent felony convictions are
an original birth certificate. ineligible for name changes
Applicants with criminal even after completing their
records are required to submit sentences.
either a certificate of disposition
for each conviction from the Nicholas Hite is an attorney
court or a current rap sheet. with the Hite Law Group, a
New Orleans law firm that
For people incarcerated in New specializes in working with the
York State prisons, all of these LGBTQ community. He works
same requirements apply. But with people who are trans and
prisons do not allow people to have criminal convictions that
keep their birth certificate while exclude them from changing
incarcerated, so many must try their names. However, their
to obtain a copy, which costs convictions do not preclude
$30. For people earning a them from changing their
fraction of minimum wage at gender markers, which is a whole
a prison-assigned job, that cost other process requiring that an
alone can be a barrier. Then applicant have had surgery.
there’s the filing fee which, in “On top of the surgery, there’s
many upstate counties where prisons birth certificate. She is now waiting the added cost of the court process,”
are located, is $210. to be placed on the court’s special he said. In contrast to changing one’s
calendar for name changes. Even then, name, which may not even require a
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), she may not have her name changed hearing, a person seeking to change
which works with incarcerated trans immediately; the judge might require their gender marker must go to trial,
and gender nonconforming people, additional information, which takes which means paying for an attorney.
has found that many counties will not more time to gather. Depending on the parish, court filing
waive the fee for incarcerated people. fees cost between $250 to $700.
Mik Kinkead, SRLP’s staff attorney Another client was never issued a birth For those who no longer live in that
and director of its Prisoner Justice certificate. The Office of Vital Records parish (or in Louisiana), they must
Project, is currently working with 30 sent a certificate of no certificate, which take time off from work, travel to that
people on name changes. The Project certifies that no birth certificate was parish and stay in a hotel during the
not only helps people navigate the ever issued. The judge initially refused trial. “The cost is immense, the time
court process and obtain necessary to believe it, delaying the process even it takes is immense,” noted Hite,
documentation, but also covers the more and requiring a back-and-forth pointing out that the people most
costs. It’s an expense that takes up one- conversation. The woman, who filed likely to be stopped and profiled by
third of the Prisoner Justice Project for a name change in December 2015, law enforcement are often the people
budget, but is the only way that many is still awaiting a decision. “Had she who cannot afford these costs. But,
behind bars would be able to change not been in prison and had she been in he notes, having the changed gender
their names. New York City, she could have gotten marker on a birth certificate and
this done within a week,” Kinkead state identification can provide some

21 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

modicum of safety even for people past. “It’s one more way for people her gender marker remains M).
targeted by law enforcement. Police to be a little bit safer in our current The other 29 have yet to receive a
often rely on the gender in a person’s political climate,” said Ware. response. “There’s no requirement for
birth certificate to determine what the warden to give a response at all,”
facility to place a person in; for a trans How Many People Affected? said Densmore. That means that those
woman who has gone through the 29 applicants may stay in legal limbo
process of legally changing her gender According to the California until their release date. Then, on
marker, she’s more likely to be placed Department of Corrections and top of fulfilling parole requirements
in a women’s facility, thus decreasing Rehabilitation (CDCR), there have and searching for employment and
her risk of violence and abuse. been approximately 589 requests for housing, they will also have to navigate
name changes since 2012. However, the legal process to change their names
Even for people able to have their the department does not collect data and gender markers.
names changed, the cost can be about the number of requests that
prohibitive. In New Orleans, the were denied or approved. It also does SB 310 has already passed the Senate
filing fee is $504. Because the court not track how many requests were for and, on June 27, passed the Assembly
considers changing one’s name a name change to reflect the applicant’s Judiciary Committee. It continues on
an elective process, the fee is not gender identity. In other words, no to the Committee for Public Safety on
waivable. In addition, applicants must one knows how many imprisoned July 11. From there, it will go to the
submit copies of documents, such as trans people have tried to change their Appropriations Committee, then to
their original birth certificate. If they names. the full Assembly for a vote.
do not have these documents, they
must pay to obtain them. This shouldn’t be surprising, given Though Bivens won’t benefit from the
that no government agency tabulates Act, she is hopeful that it will make a
Shortly after the 2016 election, the number of transgender, intersex huge difference for other trans people
BreakOUT!, a New Orleans or gender-variant people behind bars. in prison. “The Name and Dignity Act
organization that works with The Bureau of Justice estimates that, makes us more dignified,” she said. “It
criminalized LGBTQ youth, held two between 2011 and 2012, there were gives us more opportunities for work,
legal clinics where attorneys answered 3,209 trans people incarcerated in state housing and navigating society. To
questions about name changes, gender and federal prisons and another 1,709 have that process done more easily
marker changes, immigration and trans people in local jails. According while in prison helps both us and
expungement of criminal records. to California’s prison medical data, society as a whole. It builds everyone
at least 400 people in California’s up.”
BreakOUT! also launched a Trans prison system are receiving hormone
Defense Fund to help 30 members treatment.
change their legal names (as well
Victoria Law is a freelance journalist who focuses on
as two gender changes), including In January and February, TGI Justice the intersections of incarceration, gender and
covering the costs of filing fees and Project sent a survey to 40 of its resistance. Her first book, Resistance Behind Bars:
related expenses. Changing one’s name The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, examines
incarcerated members. All had started organizing in women’s jails and prisons across
removes “a big barrier to employment,” the process of changing their names the country. Her next book, co-written with
said BreakOUT! co-director Wes by writing a memo to the prison Maya Schenwar, critically examines proposed
Ware. “Now they are able to show “alternatives” to incarceration and explores creative
superintendent. “That’s where the and far-reaching solutions to truly end mass
their identification that matches their gatekeeping begins,” explained Kelly incarceration. She is also the proud parent of a New
name.” Ware points out that given Lou Densmore, TGI Justice Project’s York City high school student.
the heightened policing of trans staff attorney.
and gender nonconforming people,
having the name on identification Of those 40 members, 10 received
match the name that they give an denials. The reason given was “safety
officer removes the threat of being concerns” with no further explanation.
charged with “misrepresentation to One trans woman received approval
law enforcement,” a charge that many and recently completed the process
members have encountered in the of legally changing her name (though

Stiletto 22
San Francisco’s New Transgender Cultural District:
Compton’s Cultural District
WHY: city of San Francisco will need to ensure that neighborhood services, business,
The District is named after the community groups, and public policy are transgender focused and culturally
Compton’s Cafeteria Riots that appropriate for the transgender community.
took place in August of 1966. The
riots were the first known incident 2) To stabilize and economically empower the transgender community, and
of collective LGBT resistance to especially transgender women and femmes of color, through ownership of
police harassment in U.S. history, buildings, business,
and occurred three years prior to the homes, historic sites, and community space.
Stonewall riots in New York. The
Compton’s Transgender Cultural 3) To preserve the places where transgender history took place for future
District is an officially designated generations. That means making sure that historic buildings like Compton’s
Cultural District, similar to Calle 24 Cafeteria and the El Rosa Hotel are preserved and accessible. It also means
in the Mission, SOMA Phillipina, and protecting Legacy Business and historic non-profits like Aunt Charlie’s, the St.
Japan Town. James Infirmary, and TGIJP from displacement.

The Compton’s District is actually the oldest TLGB neighborhood in the country.
The history of the TLGB community in the neighborhood began during the gold
rush and lives on into today. It is also, unfortunately, the community most at
risk of displacement from gentrification and development. A swift and concerted
effort from City Hall and the TLGB community is needed to save this at risk
historic neighborhood before it’s too late.

The Compton’s District Coalition
has outlined three main goals for the

1) To create a safe, welcoming and

empowering neighborhood lead by
trans women and femmes for trans
women and femmes, and to create
a place of healing, opportunity, and
reparations in a neighborhood that
historically has been a place of both
violence and resistance.

That means making sure that trans

women who currently live in the
district are able to stay by creating
pathways to affordable rent and
homeownership. It also means that the

23 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

Dear Loved
Our transge
nder and ge
establishme nder-varian
nt of the Co t family in th
mpton’s Tra eB
long history
of transgend nsgender Cu ay Area has won a big v
and violenc er ltural Distric ictory with
e to claim sp and gender-variant com t—a recogn
it io n, long overd
ace and surv munities wh ue, of the
ive in this n o have strug
This Distric eighborhoo gled against
t has been e d . oppression
especially B stablished d
lack and Bro u ring a histori
trans wome wn trans wo c spike in vio
n have for g men, nation lence against
against marg enerations e wide. This v transgender
xperienced th io le nce is not n peop
assault to cri
inalized com
munities—v e b runt of viole e w. Black and le,
minalization iolence that nce that this Brown
and over-po has taken m country has
licing to dis any forms, sp directed
The Tenderl crimination anning from
oin neighbo to d ispossession p hysical
violence tha rhood share of property.
t has for too s this long h
predecessors long been ig istory of vio
in the Tend nored and in lence against
sufficiently tran
collective up
risings such
erloin have
always resist dealt with. B sgender people;
ed transmiso ut
its name, as
well as throu
as the Comp
ton’s Cafete gynist and ra our trans siblings and
The Compto gh political ria Riot from cist oppressio
n’s Transgen mobilization which the C n, through
der Cultura , communit ompton’s D
l District co y care, and tr is trict derives
My vision fo mmemorate ansformativ
r the Distric s, and conti e justice wo
from violen t is the creati nues, this w rk.
ce and discri on of a safe o rk .
mination. W spa
e at TGI Just ce for my trans and gen
• Where B ic e Project inte der-variant
lack and Bro nd to make siblings
and gender- wn trans wo the District
variant peop men living in a place:
everyone els le , be treated w a n d v is iting the Dis
• Where a e; 
 ith respect b trict, as well
nyone doing y a ll agencies, sh as all other tr
b op owners, ans
place of busi u si ness is respe v isitors, and
n ess ensures d c tf u l to the tran
• Withou ignity and d s communit
t violence, d e c e n cy for every y, and work
• Where B iscriminatio one; s to make su
lack and Bro n, or over-p re their
access to op wn trans wo o li c ing; and
portunities m en and the g
for business reater trans
ownership, and gender-
Correcting housing, serv variant com
decades of w ices, and spa munity hav
exclusion, a rongs enacte ce for cultura e
nd prejudic d against tra l creation. 

ending viole ial treatmen ns folks in th
nce against t will take w e form of vio
the needs of tr ans people re o rk from everyo lence, dispo
transgender quires those ne within th ssession,
advocating o people, and who are not e District. U
n behalf of e for each of u transgender ltimately,
neighborho ach other. W s to unearth to listen to a
od residents e at TGI Just in ourselves nd respect
with you. 
 and business ice are comm a lifelong co
es toward re itted to work m mitment to
alizing this v ing collabora
ision. We lo tively with
ok forward
to working

Stay blessed
and strong,
Executive D Ja netta Johnso
irector, TGI n

Justice Proje

Stiletto 24
Cookie’s Words of Wisdom & Guidance
for the Girls Still Held in State Captivity
Hello, first and foremost I want to give my love to all my then I did inside. This is mandatory, so be prepared.
trans girls inside still struggling and surviving incarceration.
My heart and mind is with you always. After finishing my 6 months at health right 360, I did
not have a place to stay. I tried to stay with my family but
After thirty years of incarceration, I was finally able to free that quickly did not work. So I was considered homeless.
myself from confinement with a lot of support inside and You cannot be homeless under parole. So I had to stay in
out. And I want to thank all those who played a personal role hotels until I found housing. Number 1, you can be housed
in helping me to achieve that goal. Getting out after all that through parole but it will be another program or halfway
time was like a dream that happened suddenly, into a new house, which might work for some. 2, you can try to get
world with new excitement and definitely new challenges. housing through low income housing lotteries and you pay
30% of your income. But it is like playing the lottery. That
First thing, when I got past that prison gate and into a car takes time and good luck. Number 3, you could also search
I asked the driver to stop at the line. That was the prison the web through craigslist or some online housing search if
property limit line. And I got out and kissed the dirty you can afford that. Finding a sublet would be great for a
ground of freedom. Yes, I kissed all that dirt and tears rolled start.
down my face - had to do it!
I want to talk about my re-entry process and share some of San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to find
housing. My advice is to work on all the available options
and take advantage of the halfway houses and transitional
houses. That gives you time to work on finding a more
permanent place after your stay there. Also, you need to get
your ID and social security number and look for a job. Some
of these transitional houses will help you get all or some of
that. And San Francisco has a lot of job opportunities for
transgender people if you apply yourself.

Good parole plans are a key to success. Most definitely there

are challenges out here. I consider myself lucky to have
support from great friends and coworkers. And we have a re-
entry program at TGIJP that gives you work experience and
pay, helps you develop skills in an office setting, networking,
personal development and coping skills. As TGIJP is a
family/work environment. I have grown in so many ways
and it has not been easy by far. But it has been something
that I would not have wanted to miss out on, for sure. This
my truth in hopes to give some insights into transitional year has been very exciting for me. I participated in the trans
struggles that some may face. Before I got out of prison, I march. I felt real powerful to see all my trans community
wrote to several transitional houses and was accepted into move as one. Looking back seeing all of my sisters made me
HealthRIGHT 360. I wanted to go to San Francisco where feel the pride in a special way.
I was supported through TGIJP And now work in the re-
entry program. I did 6 months in Health Right 360 drug The highlight of this year was that I got the chance to
treatment program. This program is funded under STOP meet the legend, Miss Major. And I thanked her for all the
and contracted through CDCR. Under STOP funding you struggles she has been through for all of us trans. I also had
have to do 31 hours of group a week. That was way more my very first bday, which is my birthday, since I have been

25 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

out. It was on the beach with my friends and coworkers.
Sometimes I can’t believe, can’t actually believe, that I Letters From
made it to this place in my life. I am working on honing
my skills on leadership development, computer training Outside
and advocacy and I’m very hopeful for the future. We
have won the Compton’s district, which is the area Members
in the Tenderloin that has a history of struggle and
perseverance in the trans community. This translates
into opportunities for our community which gives jobs
and job development for our girls. For those businesses
that are in our district, we say hire our trans girls and
invest in them. Our community has a future stake in
this district. We will be adding a restaurant, the very
first trans run restaurant, in the district as part of our
re-entry jobs program. These are very exciting times
and I am proud of all the work from the inside-out.

And finally, for those that are facing overwhelming odds

behind bars - believe in yourself and know that as trans
people we have been through so much pain and struggle,
that’s what makes us some of the strongest people on
earth. I truly believe in that. For me personally, I would
never feel whole until all trans girls inside are free.

We stand with you in sisterhood and solidarity.

Yours truly,
Cookie monster.

Stiletto 26
Legal Corner

Updates on the Legal that we can provide better assistance to

you on the inside by pulling together
Program at TGIJP our skills and resources on the outside.

We have several exciting updates In addition to strategizing individual

about the legal program at TGIJP. We legal support for you, recent projects
have been working hard to respond to of the Trans Advocacy Group include
your legal letters and to provide you a providing public comment on CA’s
response with a depth of information Prop 57 regulations and on CDCR’s
for you to be able to advocate for new property regulations; we have lawyers and public defenders to ensure
yourself. Thank you to everyone who been gathering information to find that the legal defense is vigorous,
has written to us with legal questions out why so many of you (almost culturally appropriate, and we request
or asking for assistance. We are hoping everyone) who applied for SRS was for alternative sentencing whenever
to be able to continue to expand our denied without being provided much possible!
legal letter response even more so reason for why; and we are working
that we can better direct advocacy by
writing to wardens or other prison
on issues facing trans people in parole
suitability hearings in California.
Update on Gender
staff when needed. We are developing Affirming Commissary
visitation teams in California to Keep your eyes open for a new resource
come and build with those of you in written for advocates who are helping
CDCR. We are hoping that these visit their loved one(s) to prepare for a
teams will travel to different prisons As of March 28, 2017, CDCR released
parole suitability hearing. We know
around the state to meet with you face emergency regulations changing
that trans and gender nonconforming
to face to get to know you and hear sections in Title 15 related to property
people face unique (and sometimes
your thoughts, experiences, and ideas. for transgender people. As part of
discriminatory) questioning during
compliance with the Quine v. Beard
parole suitability hearings, so TGIJP
TGIJP is in its second year of being a settlement, Section 3190(d) now states,
has teamed up with a few individuals
part of the Trans Advocacy Group, a “ The Transgender Inmates Authorized
to create a resource that provides tips,
coalition of several organizations in the Personal Property Schedule (TIAPPS)
suggestions, and information on what
Bay Area who are working on behalf (4/28/17) identifies a separate list of
we have learned from our members
of trans and gender nonconforming allowable personal property afforded
who have gone through hearings,
people in prison. Our coalition to transgender inmates and inmates
about what has been successful how
includes the following organizations: with symptoms of gender dysphoria as
to best respond to things such as the
Transgender, Gender-variant, Intersex identified and documented in SOMS
use of wrong names and pronouns or
Justice Project (TGIJP), Justice Now, by medical or mental health personnel
to questions related to your gender
California Coalition for Women within a CDCR institution.”
during a parole hearing.
Prisoners (CCWP), the Prison Law
Office, the National Lawyers Guild Depending on classification, the new
For our community inside of jails,
- San Francisco (NLGSF), Legal additions to the property matrix allow
TGIJP has been working with people
Services for Prisoners with Children trans people in men’s prisons to now
in Bay Area county jails. We have been
(LSPC), and Medina Orthwein LLP. access: bras, panties, sandals, t-shirts,
visiting, showing up for court hearings
Being a part of this coalition allows walking shoes, body splash, blush,
to let the court know that our members
all of us to share legal knowledge and cotton balls, emery board, eyebrow
have community support, and we have
resources between organizations so been collaborating with appointed

27 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

pencil/eyeliner, eye shadow kit, fabric try to get an IAC representative and Document everything!
softener, face powder, facial astringent, support groups. What have you done
facial cleanser, feminine hygiene wash, in your facility? TGIJP is excited to Finally, we want you to know how
foundation, hair gel spray and lock help by writing letters in support of incredibly important your self-
gel, hair rollers, lip gloss/lipstick/lip your efforts, or to mail you resources advocacy is both for your- self and
liner, mascara, pumice bar, scrunchies, and materials to share in your groups. for the rest of our community.
shower bag, shower caps, shower puffs, Please feel free to reach out! Your strength and resilience is so
tweezers and a chain or necklace. empowering, and so important for
In order to get a transgender moving towards collective liberation!
Depending on classification, the new representative on the IAC, many We know there is a lot of repression
additions to the property matrix allow people have sent in petitions to the happening, and that many of you are
trans people in women’s prisons to now chairperson and secretary of the IAC facing a lot of retaliation when you
access: athletic supporters, binders/ on your yard. In that petition, you assert your rights. Be sure to write
compression tops, briefs/boxers. should include why it is important down everything you possibly can
to have a transgender representative when rights are violated - dates, times,
We have heard that many of you are on the Council. The petitions that we names of staff involved, (this includes
still having difficulties accessing these have seen include a statement about doctors if they are violating your rights
items due to guards being gatekeepers, the particular housing, medical, and and/or not meeting your medical
or because of discrepancies between program needs of transgender people needs). Be sure to file a grievance
prison staff and Inmate Package in prison, and the fact that people (602s in CA) within 30 days after your
Vendors (IVPs). Please let us know who are not transgender can- not rights are violated. We know it can
what your experience has been and we properly represent the needs of the seem like a really useless process when
will do what we can to help you get trans- gender community. you never get any response, but it is
these items! so important for future advocacy and
Getting a support group at your potential legal action to show that the
facility seems to require a similar
TGIJP Members: process. You will need to submit a
prison knew that they were violating
your rights. Be safe, stay strong, and
Supporting Our proposal to the IAC explaining the keep on fighting. We love you and
particular needs of transgender folks
Community Inside inside, and the importance of creating
believe in you!
a space for transgender people in your
We have seen some incredible facility to express themselves.
leadership by our members on the Title 15, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3,
inside to create support groups for Article 3, Section 3234 allows you
the trans community, and to get trans to create this group, and explains
members on the “Inmate Advisory specifically what you will need to
Councils” at various facilities (In include in your proposal for the
California, it is called an “Inmate group. TGI is, again, happy to help in
Advisory Council,” a “Women’s any way that we can.
Advisory Council” or a Men’s Advisory
Council” depending on the facility.)
We wanted to provide some insight
from what people have been doing to

Stiletto 28
Ally Updates
HEARTS ON A WIRE grants to cover our costs for future detention, not just in Santa Ana
newsletters, homecoming grants, and where there is an “LGBT pod” but in
We have heard from inside members more. We are also creating a workshop other centers across the country. ICE
at 4 different facilities in Pennsylvania on how to care for, respect, and better has said it’s reformed its detention
that they are starting or have already the lives of trans and gender variant practices to respect and honor trans
started LGBTQI organizations. folks who are incarcerated, which detainees. It’s released new memos
One of our inside leaders, Mrs. we plan to present at conferences that outlines treatment and care
GeGe, shares this update about the and trainings in the late spring and guidelines. Officers are to get training
organization she founded: summer. Sending you all love and on sexual orientation and identity
solidarity! and how to acknowledge people’s
“We are LIGHT (Learning Initiative proper pronouns-- but we know that
that’s not happening detainees are
for Gay Heterosexual and Transgender FAMILIA reporting strip searches, violence, and
People). Here is an update of what we
have been up to. We have just released TRANS QUEER still being abused. Even if they did
follow the memo’s guidelines, having
our second newsletter reaching 300+
readers, thanks to Hearts. We are in
LIBERATION your gender recognized by your jailer
the process of getting the PA DOC to MOVEMENT isn’t the respect that’s needed. What’s
change its commissary to a unisex list By Jennicet Gutiierez, B Loewe, Jorge needed is freedom.
for everyone regardless of gender or Gutierrez
identity. We got a response from the That movement to end trans detention
higher ups and they said they are going By the time you read this Christina is growing. The agency tried to come
to be making those changes soon. Lopez will be out of detention and to the largest queer conference in the
So it looks like it’s going to happen. back with her family after two years country, Creating Change, to trumpet
We have also gotten our LGBTQI+ behind bars. She’s a 35-year-old its achievements on trans issues,
support group approved here at SCI transwoman from Peru who has been thousands protested their invasion
Rockview. It will be once a month in this country most of her life. Like of our space and got their invitation
on the second Thursday. Yay! Our many trans women, she experienced cancelled. More recently, the city of
next mission is to get other people to violence in a relationship she was in. Santa Ana in California worked out a
start similar organizations started in The abuse moved her to engaging $2,000,000 deal with ICE to expand
the facility they are incarcerated in. alcohol and making decisions based on detention at the Santa Ana jail,
We all have a responsibility to stand trying to cope with life. Unfortunately, especially of LGBTQ detainees. But
up for our rights and spread love and after receiving her 3rd DUI she ended when groups found out, Santa Ana
happiness. Love you all.” up in detention and found herself residents mobilized and made sure it
isolated and with minimal support. was shot down. A trans woman who
Hearts’s outside collective is shifting had been in that detention facility was
our priorities and resources towards When FAMILIA, TLC, and the joined by teachers, students, queer
supporting our inside leadership, #Not1More campaign came across her and straight immigrants and Latinos
while we also deepen our commitment case, we were able to make it public in three and a half hours of testimony
to raising awareness about the issues and found pro-bono support by Ava that convinced the council that
that our inside members face. We Banach, a trans lawyer in DC. As a detaining our loved ones is no way to
finished a collaborative zine with the result, she was able to become eligible balance a budget.
Philly Survivor Support Collective for bail which we raised through a
that is all about how to stay safe while public campaign. We’ll continue pushing until
incarcerated, which will be available everyone is free. #Not1More
soon. We applied for a number of Her case is one of hundreds in #EndTransDetention

29 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

BLACK & PINK and volunteers as well as brand new • 70% of respondents experienced
members to Black and Pink. It is a emotional pain from hiding their
majority formerly incarcerated and sexuality during incarceration/
Recruiting More Penpals
people of color team as it is essential throughout their interactions
We went from about 5000 penpal
that we are centering the voices of with the criminal legal system.
pairs in January 2015 to about 10000
penpal pairs in January 2016. This
those most affected by the prison • 78% of transgender, nonbinary
industrial complex in our leadership gender, and Two-Spirit
doesn’t account for folks who have
and decision making. This team is respondents experienced
stopped writing without informing
tasked with coming up with a new emotional pain from hiding
us, but does show how our work and
structure that aligns with our values their gender identity during
our movement is growing!
and purpose; that is practical and incarceration/ throughout their
effective; that includes prisoner voices; interactions with the criminal
Ending Solitary Confinement
and that ensures we are strengthening legal system.
Working Group
the movement for abolition, not
Black & Pink is currently forming a
simply building our organization. ► Of transgender, nonbinary gender,
national working group focused on
The Transition Team’s planning work and Two-Spirit survey respondents,
solitary to amplify both local and
should be completed by Fall of 2016. only 43% have been diagnosed with
national campaigns focused on ending
Gender Identity Disorder or Gender
or reducing solitary confinement. This
Coming out of Concrete Closets: A Dysphoria. 31% reported being
is in response to our Coming Out of
Report on Black & Pink’s national denied these diagnoses upon seeking
Concrete Closets survey and report,
LGBTQ Prisoner survey them during incarceration.
in which our prisoner membership
made clear that abolishing solitary
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This ► More than a third of transgender,
confinement is one of the highest
report lifts up the voices of LGBTQ nonbinary gender, and Two-Spirit
priorities. Folks in several of our
prisoners from across the United respondents took hormones prior to
chapters are already involved in
States so that they can inform, shape, their incarceration. The majority of
specific campaigns to regulate/reduce
and lead the movement for prisoner these respondents took street-based
solitary confinement in their states.
justice. These numbers, statistics, hormones that were not prescribed by
and stories represent the largest a doctor.
National Structure
ever collection of information from
At Black and Pink’s 10-year anniversary
LGBTQ prisoners. This collection ► 23% of transgender, nonbinary
organizing weekend we decided it was
of information is possible because gender, and Two-Spirit respondents
important to create a team of people
of the time taken by 1,118 prisoners are currently taking hormones in
who would help revamp Black and
across the United States to handwrite prison, while an overwhelming
Pink’s national structure. For the last
responses to our 133-question survey, 44% report being denied access to
ten years decisions have been made
which was itself designed/drafted with hormones they requested.
for the organization by a group of
prisoners themselves.
people based in Boston informed by
► Only 21% of respondents are
relationships with prisoner members
KEY FINDINGS: allowed access to underwear and
of Black and Pink. As we have grown
cosmetic needs that match their
and the family has widened, it is
► Sexual Identity and Gender gender.
important that the decision making
body also grows. This Transition
• 65% of respondents identified ► 15% of respondents have been
Team has been created to ensure that
as LGBTQ prior to their barred from programs offered by
we do that new structure well. The
incarceration. the prison because they identify as
team consists of long time leadership

Stiletto 30
Ally Updates Continued....
he is at Camp Aguinaldo, and will accusations. We are presently working
► Only 20% of respondents have be under the Bureau of Corrections towards building the leadership of
access to LGBTQ affirming books control for 6-10 years. formerly-incarcerated people. Our
nationally-recognized Ban the Box
► Gender / Sex & Sexuality and Other news regarding the struggle campaign challenges the stereotypes
Solitary Confinement against imperialism in the Philippines, of people with conviction histories
• All respondents who experienced in April 2016, TGIJP proudly by asking employers to choose their
solitary confinement, whether stood in outrage with our Filipina best candidates based on job skills and
by request or involuntarily, were comrades demanding “Rice Not qualifications, not past convictions.
placed in solitary confinement Bullets, Bigas Hindi Bala.” Our The question on applications for
against their will at higher rates comrades in Gabriella confronted the employment, housing, public benefits,
than by request. Philippine Consulate General in San insurance, loans and other services,
• Further, trans women, Two-Spirit Francisco after police in Kadapawan means lifelong discrimination and
people, and cisgender gay men City, North Cotabato, Philippines exclusion because of a past arrest or
are put into solitary confinement massacred innocents by opening fire conviction record. We have chapters
against their will at the highest on farmers seeking government relief throughout California, with our most
rates. to hunger. International solidarity and active chapters are in the SF Bay Area,
• While prison staff may claim they intersectional struggle is becoming the Riverside, and Los Angeles. All of Us
are placing LGBTQ prisoners in texture of the threads of our TGI lives or None is not a pen-pal organization.
solitary confinement for their in the San Francisco Bay. We are
own safety, it is often being done #InItTogether and proud to be in it For more information, please contact
so as an attempt to decrease sexual with such solid and integrity filled folks All of Us or None via Legal Services
activity amongst prisoners or to as the organizers with GABRIELA. for Prisoners with Children at:
control what they see as disruption
of the social order of the prison by 1540 Market St., Suite 490
LGBTQ prisoners.
ALL OF US OR NONE San Francisco, Ca 94102
All Of Us Or None is a grassroots
GABRIELA organization led by formerly-
imprisoned people committed to
U.S. Out Of The Philippines fighting for the human dignity of
TGIJP was honored to be at people who have been or are being
GABRIELA USA’s National Congress held captive in America. We are
in March. From opening sessions to fighting for the full restoration of our
cultural celebrations and ecumenical civil and human rights and against
services, our kasamas made sure the systemic discrimination facing
TGIJP was involved throughout us while in captivity and upon our
their powerful gathering. These release. We demand to be called people
brilliant leaders continued to affirm and not the dehumanizing labels we
the need for the U.S. military to are usually referred to, such as ex-
leave the Philippines, for sovereignty, offenders. These characterizations
safety and economic justice for the prevent us from being seen and
people. For readers who had been treated as human beings. Although
following the case of Jennifer Laude, we may have been to jail or prison,
Olongapo Regional Trial Court found our lives are much more than the
Pemberton guilty of homicide and sum total of our past indiscretions or

31 Fall 2017 | Volume 9 | Issue 1

Edxie Betts, for the Third Annual Trans Day of Resilience

Back Cover: The Trans Life & Liberation art series is a weekly
series of collaborative portraits created about and with living trans
people on the front lines of our liberation movement. Trans visual
artists across the U.S. work with other artists and organizers to create
portraits that tell their stories and honor their work. The project centers
trans women and femmes of color, and disabled and incarcerated trans
people of color. Art is shared on social media and used to support trans
justice organizing and fundraising.

As Janet Mock said: “We can’t only celebrate trans women of color in
memoriam. We must begin uplifting trans women of color, speaking
their names and praises, in their lives.” Or, in the words of BreakOUT!
trans youth in New Orleans: “Give us our roses while we are still here!”
At this time of intense violence and oppression, this project is a way for
trans people to celebrate and support each other while we are alive.
Trans Life &
Art Series