TGI Justice Member Canonized!
Our beloved Program Coordinator and TGI Justice Member, Janetta Johnson has recently been honored in a Clarion Alley Mural in San Francisco. We are so proud of her!
Click on the photo to the right for SF Bay Guardian article.
Photo taken by Stephany Joy Ashley
Grace Lawrence, 43, is a transgender woman from Liberia who was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, for nearly three years. For all but six months, she was kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day...
Transitions at TGI Justice
Letter from our Program Director, Beck Witt August 2012
Dear Friends and Supporters,
I am writing to you with the news that after 6 months of planning, I will be transitioning out of Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project on August 10th. TGI Justice, (and it’s precursor—the Trans and gender variant In Prison (TIP) Committee) has been my political home and chosen family for almost 9 years. I could never put into words all that I have learned and grown in my time with the organization and am grateful to you all—our members in and out of prison, partners at allied organizations, supporters of TGI Justice, current and past staff members—for all that you’ve taught me. While I will miss being a part of the everyday goings-on of the organization, I trust that the profound personal relationships that I’ve cultivated during my time here will continue after I transition out. I am excited to learn some new skills and embark on new adventures and am deeply thrilled to be able to pass on the torch.
Since our founding in 2004, it has been a central goal of TGI Justice to be led by members from our base—transgender women of color who have been impacted by prisons and police. Today we are walking that walk and it is with incredible joy, excitement, and confidence that I announce TGI Justice’s newest staff members—three woman that have been participants and leaders in the organization for the past 4-8 years. Together with our Executive Director, Miss Major and our Admin Coordinator, StormMiguel Florez, I believe we’re watching history in the making with this unstoppable team. Read more HERE
Article by TGI Justice Member in The Daily Beast
A Father's Day Transgender Surprise
By Maria M. Chico
The last time Maria Chico’s father saw her, she was a baby boy. Would her dad accept her 30 years later—as a woman? As told to Samantha Marshall.
The last thing my father knew, he had a son. He could only ever remember me as a baby boy, swaddled in my mother’s arms. He had no idea that I was male by gender only, or that I was miserable, alone, and confused, until, at age 21, I completed a series of operations to become the person I was meant to be—a woman. So when I drove out to see him last week, our first encounter in 30 years, I felt sick with anticipation. Would he reject me, like so many other people had done before?
This Is What Pride Looks like: Miss Major and the Violence, Poverty, and Incarceration of Low-Income Transgender Women by Jessica Stern
“Just because there’s this umbrella, LGBT, we’re all grouped together. But guess what? Someone poked a hole in the umbrella and the girls are still getting wet.” —Miss Major
I first met Miss Major socially in 2005 at the apartment of a mutual friend in the Bay Area; her then boyfriend, 30 years her junior, was at her side. When I began interviewing her for this article, she gave me three different ages, all of them creatively explained. What I do know is that she is a 6’2” African American transgender woman, and I believe that she is in her mid-sixties. Most often, I’ve seen her with wavy, short, grey hair in the exact style of women in my family who go to hair salons weekly. Though she received a kidney transplant four years ago, she is an unrepentant sugar addict. But I truly began to appreciate Miss Major’s character and spirit when she told me that she self-identifies as a “glamour puss,” a descriptor uniquely her own. “I like to have the right style,” she said. “Paint the face, grab my heels, make sure my purse matches, and hit it. It’s Miss Major, spelled M-I-S-S.”
Our chance encounter turned into a friendship that has helped guide my path as an activist. The year after we met, when I undertook a project to document discrimination and violence against transgender people in US prisons, Miss Major was the first person I turned to for assistance. Opportunities to collaborate grew, and we later were among the organizers of Transforming Justice, a coalition gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) former prisoners, attorneys, and activists to develop national priorities toward ending the criminalization and imprisonment of transgender communities. A few years later, we reconnected in Barcelona, Spain, at a meeting of transgender advocates and allies dedicated to identifying local and global patterns of and remedies for human rights violations based on gender identity. As a thirty-five-year-old white, Jewish, queer woman assigned female at birth, my differences from Miss Major are many, but our connection runs deep. Coming from opposite ends of most spectrums, we are nonetheless two femme activists bound together by a mutual fascination with the pleasures and challenges of gender expression as well as a shared quest for social, political, and economic change. And so, I seek to convey some of the personal insights and professional wisdom that Miss Major has shared with me, an analysis that is too often sidelined by the US LGBT movement.
TGI Justice documentary about the Prison Industrial Complex
Last summer, TGI Justice members participated in a Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) training series. During the training, members learned about the politics of prisons in the U.S., honed their public speaking and leadership skills, and shared their own personal thoughts and experiences about the Prison Industrial Complex. As a key part of the training, members wrote, directed, and filmed a mini-documentary in which they interviewed each other as first hand experts on the effects of the Prison Industrial Complex on trans women and their communities. Special thanks to James Tracy for his generosity and wisdom in leading the PIC training!
Miss Major speaks at FICPM Convening
On November 2, 2011 members of TGI Justice traveled to Los Angeles for the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement convening and the Drug Policy Alliance conference.
Both conferences were huge successes for our members. They were able to network, learn more about the movements, and bring the important and powerful voices of trans women to these movements.
Our Executive Director, Miss Major spoke on a panel at the FICPM convening and really got people fired up! Thank you to our member, Miss Grace Lawrence for capturing this moment on video!
In Loving Memory
Please join us in celebrating the life and homegoing of beloved community member, Chris Teagel, who passed away on December 4th.
Memorial service at 5pm, Wednesday December 14th, City of Refuge, 1025 Howard St, San Francisco.
On November 2nd, 2011 TGI Justice will be closing our office in solidarity and participation with the Oakland General Strike.
For those of you participating in Occupy Oakland, or Occupy anywhere: Be Safe and Stay Strong!
More info on the strike here
TGI Justice Project members will be attending the November 2nd Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted Peoples Movement in Los Angeles, followed by theDrug Policy Alliance conference from November 3rd – November 5th.
FICPM as it is called believes that imprisonment or conviction on a felony charge should not result in a lifelong violation of our basic rights as human beings, either while we are on probation, in prison or as we make the transition from prison back into our communities. We are firmly committed to prioritizing De-Entry over Re-Entry, and oppose the concept of a Rehabilitative Industrial Complex that grows along with prisons.
Below is the link to the Alabama Conference in 2011, which was also attended by Miss Major and Minister Bobbie Jean Baker.
Special thanks to the Drug Policy Alliance for their generous scholarship and to all our friends and family who donated to TGI Justice toward this trip!
Click here to see the movie:
Inaugural Meeting of Formerly Incarcerated- Alabama, 2011
On September 8, 2011, 23 members of TGI Justice completed a 5 week Prison Activism training facilitated by James Tracy of the Community Housing Partnership. During the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) training series, members learned about the politics of prisons in the U.S., honed their public speaking and leadership skills, and shared their own personal thoughts and experiences about the Prison Industrial Complex. Additionally, as a key part of the training, members wrote, directed, and filmed a mini-documentary in which they interviewed each other as first hand experts on the effects of the Prison Industrial Complex on trans women and their communities.The documentary is in the final stages of being edited. When finished it will be submitted to film festivals and shown at conferences. We will be sure to announce screenings as they occur. Special thanks to James Tracy for bringing his amazing skills to TGI Justice!
TransFaith In Color 2011 Conference
Update on the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike
We’d like to share a letter sent out by Dorsey Nunn, the Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children Thank you Dorsey for all you do!
On July 1, over 200 prisoners in Pelican Bay SHU (secured housing unit) began a hunger strike to protest the torture they experience and to win their human rights. At least 6,600 prisoners across California joined the hunger strike in support of their demands.
LSPC has received letters from prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU for many years, recounting the horrors that go on there. Particularly terrible is long term sensory deprivation and isolation, lasting in many cases for decades. Behind this inhumane treatment is the prison’s policy of requiring prisoners to “debrief” (inform on other prisoners) in order to be released from the SHU. An unwritten policy is in place to stop any lifer in the SHU from ever being paroled. Men imprisoned in the SHU exist for decades in metal and concrete cages, under fluorescent light 24 hours a day, deprived of human touch except for a guard locking them in handcuffs and shackles.
Facing this slow death penalty, an exceptional show of racial has unity emerged. SHU prisoners issued five core demands:
- End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse
- Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria
- Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006
Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement
- Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food
- Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status
The SHU prisoners reached out to us and other prisoner rights organizations, seeking our support for their demands and hunger strike.
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children has wholeheartedly devoted itself to building support for the prisoners’ demands. I am a member of the mediation team that is working to negotiate the hunger strikers’ demands with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Today the prisoners resumed eating. They didn’t want people to die and they know implementation of their demands will take time. By ending the strike now, in this way, they believe they are better positioned to win their demands. The strike was successful because it shined a big light on CDCR’s torture and barbaric practices and mobilized many of us. The prisoners are grateful for our support, and know this is just the beginning. Continuing public pressure and possibly a class action lawsuit are needed to stop the torture.
I ask that you help us win the prisoners’ basic human rights. CDCR responded to the prisoners’ demands with a good faith promise to seriously consider substantive policy change. It is up to us to make CDCR deliver. We cannot stand silent while our state prison system tortures people. Please join us in these actions to win the prisoners’ demands:
- Sign up for regular action updates and sign the on-line petition at the Prisoner Hunger
Strike Solidarity website.
- Call Jerry Brown’s office daily: 916.445.2841. If you know the Governor or his associates,
urge Jerry Brown to grant the prisoners’ demands.
- Call CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate: 916.323.6001. Urge him to grant the prisoners’
- Call your elected officials. Urge them to support legislative hearings at Pelican Bay State
Prison, to hear the testimony of the men imprisoned in the SHU.
- Religious leaders are forming a religious delegation to talk directly to the Governor. Urge
any religious leaders you may know to support this delegation and call me to get
- If you know legal representation with the capacity to engage in a class action lawsuit,
please call me.
For more information about the hunger strike please access the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.
Please spread this message widely.
In pursuit of justice,
Dorsey E. Nunn
TGI Justice Annual Fundraiser a Huge Success!
El Rio Fundraiser
On June 26th we held our annual TGI Justice fundraiser at El Rio. The fundraiser, which was also the official SF Trans March after party, was a huge success! Thanks to the generosity of El Rio and raffle donations from Good Vibrations, AK Press, Babeland, The Sausage Factory, LE Boy, Monster Maddix, Bike Love, Annalise Ophelian, and Simply Unique Nails we raised $5,000!
We also want to thank DJ Durt, OMEDJ, and DJ Jillio for spinning fabulous tunes, the SF Trans March, and everyone else who donated, helped out, and showed up! Finally, an extra gigantic thank you to Danni West for making the whole thing happen. We could not have done any of this without Danni.
You can now follow TGI Justice is now on Twitter! http://twitter.com/#!/tgijp
March 2011 411 Meeting - New Strategic Plan Unveiled
TGI Justice members met on March 29th to discuss our new strategic plan as well as to share memories of Jah’Mocca. We also had the chance to celebrate Lala’s return home!!
HomeGoing Ceremony for Jah'Mocca Moet-Iman Simone
Please join us in celebrating the life of Mocca, a beloved TGI Justice family member and former staffer. Sunday April 3, 2011. 6pm. City of Refuge church 1025 Howard Street (at 6th), SF, CA.
TGI Justice visits Valley State Prison for Women
TGI Justice joined organizers from California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Justice Now, & CURB in attending Domestic Violence Awareness Day at Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) in Chowchilla, CA on March 12. We felt honored to have been invited to such an incredibly moving event that included skits, music, dance, poetry, and testimony about domestic violence, organized and attended by 400 women and transgender men in prison at VSPW. Click here to read an account from the first DV Awareness day in 2006.