April 5, 2020
Zhi Kai Vanderford
Minnesota Correctional Facility, Shakopee
I am a trans male, been on testosterone about a year here. I am a Minnesota lifer that they sent out of state for 14 years in California, 12 years in Oklahoma, and the rest of the time broken up in Minnesota, so a total of 33 years.
The inmates here are fortunate—we have each been issued a mask and told we will get a new one monthly. But out of all the staff, and they are coming in [from the outside world], I have only ever seen one wear a mask—a foreigner—a nurse, bless his heart. The rest of these jackholes are ignorant young folks that feel fine—of course they do. They are asymptomatic.
Of course, what is the excuse of the 2 old geezer doctors that I saw? They don’t care about our health. They joke it is inmate population control.
And the inmates I spoke with are saving their masks for when they are needed. When people are actually dying. But there are Minnesota prisons that have it [COVID].
Thank you for keeping me in the loop and being a lifeline. If I get more time, I will draw or write. Feel free to print my work. Just give me credit. Maybe I can get things improved here.
Dakota Rose Austin
Kern Valley State Prison, California
Ms. Dakota Rose, a trans woman incarcerated in California, asks for help to stop the violence against LGBTQ people housed in the Sensitive Needs Yard, a place intended to keep them safe from homophobic and transphobic attacks. Various populations at risk of harm are placed there, not just LGBTQ people. For more information, see this resource written by currently and formerly incarcerated trans activists.
“My Cup of Tea”
To all of my incarcerated trans-sisters/brothers and non-binary identifying individuals, what’s Gucci! I am Dakota Rose, an incarcerated trans-woman, African Am. who was privileged to read my sis-in-solidarity, Fatima M. Shabazz’ submitted article regarding “transgender housing in prison.” Instinctively, I felt a sense of pride, compelled to interject my perspective and push for out (LGBTQ) advocacy, activism and overdue civil recourse.
Currently I am housed at Kern Valley State Prison, a max security level IV (180 design) SNY/NDO (sensitive needs yard/non-designated) in which a vast majority of the population are identified by CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] administration as STGs (security threat group/gang members). CDCR administrators, such as Sec. Scott Kernan in conjunction with C. Pfeiffer, K.V.S.P. warden, have knowingly condoned a perilous homophobic and transphobic culture, which has subsequently led to various hate crime acts of violence, discrimination, sexual harassment and assaults upon the LGBTQ population.
Continue reading “LGBTQ Prison Testimonies: Dakota Rose in California”
By Ms. Juicy Queen Bee
From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021
I’ve been on my treatment for over 3 years. Here are some tips:
- Wait, don’t rush—let the process take its course.
- The doctor is actually doing what you go through on the street, checking your mental health to find out what psychological help you may need and to make sure you are prepared.
- Most people think getting on the hormones they’re going to get the result they want ASAP, but it may take some patience, or it may not be exactly the result you want.
- When you start taking estrogen, you may find that your mood swings change and your emotional state changes.
- The older you start, the higher you are at risk for certain health issues.
- If you take certain medications, you may not be able to take hormones until they replace them, or you may need to take the medications differently.
By Fatima Malika Shabazz
From PHN Issue 41, Winter 2020
Hello everyone: Since it’s been so long since I’ve written an article for Prison Health News, it makes sense that I introduce myself. My name is Fatima Malika Shabazz. I am a formerly incarcerated Afican American Transwoman. The last time I wrote anything for Prison Health News, it was due to a civil action I filed against the California Department of Corrections. Since that time, I have been released on parole; I have also been heavily involved in advocacy and activism surrounding either reforming or eliminating bad department of corrections policies related to the trans population.
by Fatima Malika Shabazz
From PHN Issue 37, Summer 2018
Content warning: this article discusses traumatic experiences, including sexual assault.
I can safely say that at least six out of every 10 times I pick up an LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersex community) newsletter or magazine, there is a person in prison somewhere in the country who is being victimized by prison or jail staff from weaponized PREA standards. If you are unaware of what the acronym stands for, it means Prison Rape Elimination Act. PREA was written to provide a resource (anonymous or otherwise) for people confined in America’s gulags (prisons) and mini gulags (jails) to report rapes and sexual abuses committed by both inmates and staff. However, this policy is often used as a hammer against the very people it was written to protect, while at the same time serving to shield the violators of its policies. Continue reading “The PREA Problem”
By Fatima Malika Shabazz
From PHN Issue 35, Winter 2018
I have been fighting long and hard to get gender reassignment surgery here in California. There are now protocols in place for inmates in the California Department of Corrections to apply for surgery. I applied with the medical department for reassignment surgery, but I kept my civil action (lawsuit) open. I have not lost a major motion to date, so the outlook (at least for now) looks pretty good for negotiation. Continue reading “California Begins to Allow Gender-Appropriate Clothing”
By Elisabeth Long
From PHN Issue 34, Fall 2017
“Money kept them in. Black love got them out.”
— Pat Hussain, Co-founder of Southerners on New Ground
This August, activists bailed out 51 Black women, queer and trans
folks across the South as part of the Black August Bail Out organized by
Southerners on New Ground (SONG). SONG is a Queer Liberation organization made
up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with
disabilities, working class and rural and small town lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people in the South. The Black August Bail Out is a
continuation of bail outs happening around the country that began with the
Mama’s Day Bail Out in May. Organizers found people to bail out in several ways,
such as using public records requests and allying with public defenders. They
met with women inside to ask their permission to bail them out and to find out
what their needs might be after being released. In addition to bail, donated funds
were used to provide short-term housing, healthcare, transportation, drug
treatment, mental health care and other support services to people the
activists bailed out. Continue reading “Black August Bail Out Honors Legacy of Resistance and Black Freedom Dreams”
by Mrs. Ge Ge
From PHN Issue 31, Winter 2017
Most of what I will be talking about is based on
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) policy. But this information might
be useful in other states. Whenever you need to write a grievance, you
should first review the policy in your facility regarding grievances. In
Pennsylvania (PA), that policy is DC-ADM 804. Remember that not all grievances
are winners, so it is important to find any case law that is similar to
your situation to use in the grievance. Continue reading “How to Write a Successful Grievance”
by Lisa Strawn
From PHN Issue 30, Fall 2016
I’m writing to give people in prison advice on how to put
together a memorial or celebration. In June, I put together a Celebration of
Life for the Orlando shooting victims at the facility where I’m housed. Continue reading “How to Organize a Memorial or Celebration”
by Mrs. Ge Ge
From PHN Issue 28, Spring 2016
My name is Mrs. Ge Ge. I am a trans woman incarcerated in PA. I am also the founder of an LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender–plus) organization called L.I.G.H.T. We aim to educate readers about DOC policies that protect them, laws, health and politics. We use this information to strengthen our ability to fight the prison industrial complex, by using its own policies against it. I am writing simply to spread some knowledge on how to get gender affirming health care in prison. There are several useful tools you can use to accomplish this. I will list some addresses at the end of this article. Continue reading “Accessing Gender-Affirming Health Care in Prison”