As the final number for Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington rolls in, I find myself wondering “What comes next?” You spent weeks planning the day, shared the event all over social media, and begged the girls to join you. You made your signs, filled your water bottle, put on your comfy walking shoes, stood next to your sisters, and screamed your heart out. You return to your home and find that you contributed to the largest community protest in National History. Be proud of the voice that you made heard! NOW WHAT?
Yesterday, you were empowered…strengthened by the powerful speakers you heard, and the incredible numbers who stood by you. By the end of the day, you may have returned home exhausted and look forward to the stability of the upcoming week. But what if you feel that itching sensation deep down…. you know you want to do more, but NOW WHAT?
I am NOT disregarding or demeaning the impact of such an incredible event, I am simply stating the facts as a realist / former idealist. It is easy to “make a difference” when all you have to do is make a sign, and show up.
As HUGE as yesterday’s turn out was, the sad truth is that the number of unsung heroes… the ones who fight injustice day and night, the everyday organizers, activists and advocates, is probably less than the number of people who actually attended Trumps’s Inauguration. *GASP
My favorite sign of the entire event has to be this one. As someone who is introverted, and who has spent the last few years organizing and fighting a government system, this sign says so much.
Having met many people in the organizing community, I have also come to know that far too many of my peers are quiet,introverted, and have social anxiety . The truth is, change does not begin and end with protest signs , shouting and marching. While protesting is a strong visual act that helps support a cause, it is not the best way to force change.
I have spent the last few years fighting the Georgia Department of Corrections on behalf of Ky Peterson and other LGBT inmates. During that time, we have made some rather small but significant steps forward in improving the safety and quality of life for many who are incarcerated. We aren’t trying to change the world, but we have managed to save many lives, and that is what matters most. We didn’t accomplish this by protesting in the streets, we did it from our homes, writing letters, researching laws, drafting petitions, and contacting local leaders.
Work Smart, Not Hard (It’s a matter of bureaucracy)
When I was fighting for Ky’s hormone therapy, I sent the warden at Pulaski State Prison, a deeply impassioned letter explaining Ky’s situation and how the therapy would drastically improve his health and quality of life. Once the request was sent, we wasted many days attempting to contact the prison administration for a reply. When we finally spoke with someone, we were told by the warden ” I’m not changing policy for one inmate”.
Now, I knew the policy for treating trans inmates required the facility to meet Ky’s medical needs. The warden was assuming that I did NOT know the policy, and attempted to force her personal will upon me. Lesson learned. The next day I researched the Prison’s SOP for requesting medical care for an inmate. I sent several packages to Pulaski following the chain of command, making a formal request for Ky’s hormones. These packages included: (what was required and much more)
- A letter to the warden with a formal request for hormones.
- A copy of my power of attorney
- The letter from Ky’s Gender therapist with his diagnosis and recommendations for hormones.
- The updated Georgia Department of Corrections policy on the treatment of transgender inmates
- Information from the Transgender Law Center on recommended treatment for trans inmates
- the entire WPATH Standards of Care for Transgender people.
All total, over 150 pages of reasons why Ky’s gender therapy should not be denied. I mailed this package to the Warden, and CC copies to the Deputy Warden of Care and Treatment, Prison Medical director, Prison Chief counselor, the GDOC Director of Medical Care, and Ky, so that he could formally give the request to his counselor himself. Within 45 days, Ky’s hormones were granted because we followed the bureaucratic procedure to attain them and BY LAW he could not be denied.
The fact is, our government system is bound by layer upon layer of red tape created by bureaucrats who want to prevent people from making changes. They are assuming that you will not take the time to research laws and policies…. and they are correct. The fact that Ky was ignorant to the law is the reason why he believed that he could not plead self defense AND the reason his judge was able to give him DOUBLE the legal sentence for involuntary manslaughter. BUT, there are also loopholes, which those same bureaucrats use, to make changes in their favor. Sound like a lot of work, where do you begin?
Get Help From the Inside
Former Congressional Staffers are making resources available you the public in an attempt to stop the Trump administration. The help is here for anyone who wants to march further for equality, you just have to take the 1st steps. My hope is that by January 20th of 2020, there will be as many everyday organizers, activists and advocates as there were protesters on January 20th of 2017.
The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for change and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own Members of Congress to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism— and they won.
We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Trump is not popular. He does not have a mandate. He does not have large congressional majorities. If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump. ~ from A Practical Guide For Resting the Trump Agenda