Public Statement for the Gender Identity Justice campaign
Gender Identity Justice is about respecting trans identities. This means respecting an individual's self-determination of gender role, gender presentation, gender pronouns, and name.
My personal experience as a prisoner is that systems of oppression and structural barriers have the greatest negative impact on people who are vulnerable and isolated. Trans prisoners are among the most vulnerable and isolated, experiencing higher rates of sexual violence and suicide as well as the erasure of their identities resulting in social death.
As a prisoner I finally made it through the exhaustion loop of the system to get a legal name change order and amended birth certificate that reflects my name change and female gender marker. Imagine my horror to find that after extraordinary effort to acquire these documents, I am not allowed to actually use them. Even though they are official, the Washington State department of Corrections simply does not honor them.
The Offender Management Network Information (OMNI) system shows my dead name — my old birth name that I no longer use — and lists my gender as male. The Department of Corrections refuses to amend the information, telling me that the Judgement and Sentence document that sent me to prison lists my name and gender with the old information and that is how it will stay for the duration of my sentence!
Not only was I sentenced as a male, I was sentenced to be a male until the end of my sentence, including any term of community supervision after release. The result is that I am forced to wear an I.D. card with my dead name at all times. I am also forced to communicate with my family and community using that name. They have no choice but to misgender and humiliate me as a consequence of communicating with me. My mail, even my medical records — including the ones documenting my hormone therapy and pending surgery as a post-transition transgender woman — all use my dead name and list my gender as male.
Everyone who believes that respecting trans identities is important should be involved in supporting the Gender Identity Justice campaign. You can bring awareness to the issue and show support by communicating with others through social media. Ask a friend to join us in support because the personal is political!
Law enforcement agencies are rightist by nature and are therefore thought to be strongholds of oppression and dehumanization of trans people. Confronting these strongholds of oppression in the struggle for the humanization of the most vulnerable and isolated among us is a radical revolutionary act that can result in systemic change that benefits us all. The humanization and liberation of the most impacted individuals among us promises the possibility of collective and generational liberation for all!
Each one, reach one, and teach one to contact the Washington State Department of Corrections and contact the Washington State Governor's office at the information provided below. Demand that Washington State officials respect ALL trans identities and honor the legal identity documents of trans prisoners for Gender Identity Justice now! Thank you, and don't forget to share your story of love and support during LGBTQ Pride month especially!
Call the secretary of Washington State Department of Corrections Cheryl Strange at 360-725-8226 and email her at Cheryl.Strange@wa.doc.gov
Contact Washington State Governor Jay Inslee by calling 360-902-4111 or by his Twitter @govinslee. You can also write The Office of the Governor P.O. Box 40002 Olympia, WA 98504