The PREA Problem

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”

California Begins to Allow Gender-Appropriate Clothing

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”

Black August Bail Out Honors Legacy of Resistance and Black Freedom Dreams

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”

How to Write a Successful Grievance

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”

How to Organize a Memorial or Celebration

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”

Accessing Gender-Affirming Health Care in Prison

by Mrs. Ge Ge

From PHN Issue 28, Spring 2016

Hello friends,

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”

Fatima’s Fight

by Fatima Malika Shabazz

From PHN Issue 27, Winter 2016

Peace and Love. I hope this letter finds all my brothers and sisters in the never-ending fight for our rights doing well. I have a great deal of faith in the strength and resilience of people like myself.

First steps of a lawsuit

For those who don’t know, I filed suit recently against the state of California’s Department of Corrections for denying me the chance to get genital sex reassignment surgery. It had already been denied by the prison’s medical department, and all appeals were denied at every level. I mailed the petition to the Central District of the California federal court, and it was received on August 13. Continue reading “Fatima’s Fight”

Fight for Health Justice in Womanhood

by Fatima Malika Shabazz

From PHN Issue 26, Fall 2015

Dear Reader,

My name is Fatima Malika Shabazz. Some of you may be familiar with my name through a previous article I wrote. I want to thank all of you who in one way or another have reached out to a trans woman or trans man in any prison in America. I am currently doing time in the California prison system. In a state that is supposed to be very progressive in regard to LGBTQ rights, it would appear that the secretary of prisons has not gotten that memo. Continue reading “Fight for Health Justice in Womanhood”


by Fatima Malika Shabazz

From PHN Issue 24, Spring 2015

   My name is Fatima Malika Shabazz. I am an African American transwoman currently incarcerated in the gulags of California. It is great that we can get feminizing hormone treatments in the system now. But there is still the problem of presentation. That is, being able to present every day as a woman, beyond the breast growth that comes along with being on hormones. Continue reading “Presentation”

There’s No Shame in Love

by Jose de Marco

From PHN Issue 19, Winter 2014

I’m Jose de Marco. My father was Latino, my mother was African-American. I’m a man that loves other men.

   I believe if people were more accepting of who they are, they would not care when other people criticize them about who they love. But you have to get to the point where outside influences—whether it’s church, your teacher, your mother, or your brother—your happiness cannot depend on the permission of other people. Continue reading “There’s No Shame in Love”