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Fighting for a Trans Man in Prison: The Sad Reality

I’ve always been an Idealist. When I started  fighting for Ky, my “Dreamy Visions” had me writing a couple of letters to some advocacy groups who would  jump at the chance to represent Ky and use his case to pivot the issue of Trans Victims and Legal Discrimination into the media spot light. Social media would spread his story like wildfire, people would be outraged, and demand justice. An army of supporters would carry signs and protest on courthouse stairs while his legal team fights to free him. The corrupted system would fold under the pressure of angry voices demanding justice. Ky would walk out of the courthouse a free man, ready to keep fighting for victims of transphobic violence and trans prisoners.  All of these are…elaborate dreams of a delusional Idealist.

The reality: 3 years after he is attacked and arrested, Ky finally agrees to share his story and fight for his freedom. I build a web -site and blog, create a social media campaign, start a legal fund,and basically spam hundreds of LGBTQ , Trans Community,and Human Rights groups. I email over a hundred legal organizations. I feel encouraged because within the 1st month, I hear from several people and groups who are willing to help Ky. Letters, funds, and support  began to trickle in. We were just waiting for the call from a legal group or a big media story to push Ky into view.

I spent months researching cases like Ky’s. A friend told me about CeCe McDonald. I poured over her case, and realized that it was very similar to Ky’s. A trans woman is attacked and accidentally kills her attacker in self defense. She is forced to take a plea deal. Her website documents her entire journey, from being attacked to being released after only serving 18 months. I write her, and the resource groups who assisted her campaign for freedom. I follow her social medial, and share Ky’s story, thinking that surely she can sympathize and might offer some advice. To this day, we’ve heard nothing from CeCe or the organizations who assisted her, and I am discouraged.

Encouragement arrived in the form of an email. The man’s name is Mitch and he is a journalist with The Advocate. He wanted to share Ky’s story. So the folks at The Advocate began investigating Ky’s case. They  were able to access information, and provide me with a world of new resources for Ky. I thought “This is it. This is the break we need. This is how Ky’s voice will be heard.” The Advocate became Ky’s ally when they posted the 1st article , This Black Trans Man is in Prison for Killing His Rapist,  on April 8th, 2015.  EBONY online shared the article. With this kind of visualization, we were expecting a social media wildfire. Even after being featured several more articles, we were barely picking up momentum.  Followers and support continue to trickle in at a steady pace and we are thankful for everyone. But the question still lingers, “Why aren’t people talking about this?”  Ky has 300 Facebook friends, 40 people follow this blog, and 111 followers on Twitter. My teenage daughter gains more followers in a week and all she posts is memes.  At first, I thought it was something that I was doing wrong, and it still might be. But I also realized that  there are cracks in the social media community.

  1. No one wants to share horrifying stories of injustice. No one wants to share shameful stories of rape.. No one wants to be the person that shares depressing stories on their wall or news feed. Social Media is meant to be fun.
  2. Ky is a poor black trans man. Ky is a black trans man. Ky is a trans man. Ky is a man. Men don’t need support. Men have privilege and do not suffer. Men don’t get raped.
  3. There is a terrible gap in the trans community between men and women. I have worked with trans women for nearly 20 years, and many ladies have become like family to me. These ladies were the first people I shared Ky’s story with, in hopes that they would be able to give me resources. I just knew they would be the first to share his story. This is when I learned that there is a silent battle in the trans community. The stories of violence against trans men do not get shared because trans women are in greater danger. A couple friends sent me suggestions for lawyers, but none of them, NOT A SINGLE ONE, has ever taken 2 seconds to share his story. While I do love these women very much, it made me feel ashamed of my choices in friends.Taking a stand for another trans person is not a priority, because he is not a trans woman. I have since made many wonderful new friends and allies (male and female) who are very supportive.  ***  If you look at the psychology of someone who is violently transphobic, they are capable of murdering a trans woman, (often because they feel that she is a threat to their sexuality). Therefore, it only makes sense this transphobic person would also be capable of raping a trans man, (to force the victim into their biological gender). Statistics on rape have always been greatly underestimated because most rape victims are shamed into not reporting the event. Men almost NEVER report being sexually assaulted, so consider how horrifying the numbers are for trans men. It is a terrible injustice that so many trans men suffer violence in silence because they are shamed into feeling like their pain is less significant than someone else’s. The trans community covers a huge spectrum of genders, they need to support each other.

I am now faced with the reality that Ky is not going to get the advocacy that CeCe had. Ky will have to yell louder for his voice to be heard. I and the amazing supporters we have, will have to yell louder for him. Trans men, especially men of color will have to scream his name into the heavens because Ky is those men. The reality is that no organization is voluntarily going to take on his case. We will eventually have to hire a private attorney. We had hoped that someone would represent Ky pro-bono and we would be able to focus our efforts on creating awareness about violence faced by trans men, and the reality of being trans and in prison. Ky has never wanted to ask for money. His goal was always on educating people. Unfortunately, our focus and campaign has to change. If we want justice, we will have to pay for it.

No matter what happens in Ky’s legal case, we will continue encouraging trans men to speak up about the violence and dangers they face. We were so very fortunate to be a part of The Advocate’s recent week long series on violence against trans men and male identifying people, Boys Do Cry.  Thank you all for being a part of this journey.

~Pinky

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A message from Ky:

Hello Everyone, Thanks so much for all of the support that you give to me. You guys make me stronger and make me want to be a better man. Just knowing that people are reading my story, supporting me, and encouraging me makes it a lot easier for me to keep going strong. I was so afraid that no one cared about trans people and the injustices that we suffer daily. Life has always been a struggle and I have never really fit in. I knew that I was different and I always fought to be me but the world resisted. Standing up for myself is what landed me here.  I am a trans man stuck in a women’s prison. Prison is not  fun and games and sometimes you have to do what you got to do to get by. There is always someone fighting against me, in here,  but thanks to my Higher Power and my partner Pinky, I am still able to fight, only now I am fighting the right way. They kick me when I am down but still I rise. I fight because I know that some people have no one to fight for them.  I will fight,  I am not afraid. I’m willing to fight for them no matter how much I am punished, mistreated, threatened, and hated… I will fight.  These prison walls can not stop me from educating, helping, listening, supporting, encouraging, and being there for people have no one to fight, or just be there for them. I hate this place, and nothing would make me happier than to walk away and never look back. But if what I experience here makes a difference in just one person’s life, it will be worth the pain sharing my story  with everyone who will listen.

Life is what we make it and sometimes it throws us off the path. I have been off the course that I wanted to be on for almost 4 years now but I am trying my best to make a new path. I want to thank everyone who has  support me, held up my cause, or  who just read and share my story.  Thanks for all of the support and encouraging messages that I get from you all. I really can’t explain how it feels to know that so many people care and want to help. I won’t give up or let you all down… I am in it to the end.  Stay strong and keep your head(s) up. Be blessed.
Words of Kyle P.

About Ky peterson

Kyle (Ky) Peterson is a vibrant, intelligent, and uncommonly kind human being. He’s a hard worker, with a genuinely loving nature, and a passion for promoting Human Rights and Transgender Equality. His life was forever changed in 2011 when he fell victim to, not only a violent attacker, but also the “American Justice System”.

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