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Ky’s Transition Video

For someone who is in the process of transitioning, videos and photos of transition progress are a huge inspiration.  For those who are transitioning while incarcerated, it pretty much impossible to share that progress. Many trans folks who are locked up, do not have loved ones supporting them on the outside. For those few who do, often photos and videos from prisons are too grainy and of extremely poor quality.  Thanks to Fabian Washington, Activist, and Media Specialist at I M Live LLC  we are able to give everyone the unique look at Ky’s transition process.  It is the 1st and only transition video of someone who is incarcerated.

The beginning of this video is a conversation between me and Ky… it’s an incredibly personal moment for us. I was feeling beat down after months of fighting the Ga. Department of Corrections and begging for help from civil rights groups.  I was on my own, questioning everything I had done, and wondering if I was just making things worse.  I broke down and asked him “Why me? ” Was he sure that I was the right person to be fighting for him?  His response is what pushed me to keep going. His trust pushes me, and it will continue to push me until he is home.   ~Pinky

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Every year, on the anniversary of Ky’s attack, he sends a hopeful message for me to post on his blog. It’s his way of reclaiming the worst day of his life. I wrote him last week, asking what he wanted me to post this year.  He avoided the topic for several days, then finally said this:
Ky has nothing to say, so this year’s blog is coming to you from his partner.  Ky is an intellectual, a comedian, a smart ass, and an exceptional shit talker…. he ALWAYS has something to say about everything, and anyone who knows him personally, knows this to be a fact.  He tries to use his words to make people smile and uplift others. For Ky to be silent on any topic, is disturbing. I can only imagine the frustration and anger he must be feeling after 6 years of this
 I only speak for Ky when he asks me to, so this is coming from me, as his partner and advocate for the last several years.  There is nothing like sharing life with someone who is locked up. Constant fear for their safety…. always trying to be ready to answer their call….  trying to cover up tears when you finally hear their voice for the 1st time in months….struggling to keep money on their books every week. Living this life means that you have to be unified. We share each struggle, each battle, and each victory….my joy is his, his pain is mine, THIS ANGER IS OURS.
To that end, 5 Ws
WHO?  Who would help you if you were attacked and then prosecuted for defending yourself?
 WHAT? What would you do to protect yourself and your rights?
WHEN? When will you realize that it can happen to you?
WHERE? Where will you turn when the “Law” decides that your life is not worth protecting?
WHY?  Why the fuck am I still screaming for Ky’s own community to stand up after 6 fucking YEARS?
6 YEARS !!!! Ya’ll need to DO BETTER.
~Pinky Shear
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Message from Ky 2

Ky and his mother

What is your motivation?  What pushes and draws you forward when you are not sure of what lies ahead of you?  Is it your spouse, kids, friends, church, or is it something inside of you? Is it your a need to do and see more of life, or the need to live as your truest possible self?  My motivation is my faith. It helps me to believe that I have a purpose in this nightmare and that all things are possible.

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Messages from Ky 1

Ky and his niece Zikia at MRT graduation.

As a kid, I was taught to believe that I have the freedom of speech, but I have learned quickly that  “Freedom of Speech” does not apply to people like me me.  One minute you can voice your opinions, thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams, then the very next minute it can all be taken away from you.  Speaking your truth while in prison can and often does, cost you everything.

I need you all to hold on to your Freedom and don’t take it for granted.  You have a voice, USE IT. Don’t sit by and complain about the person next to you who is speaking out.  If they are using their voice to speak for you, it’s your responsibility to do the same for them. From where I am sitting now, I have nothing but my hopes and dreams to be home with my family and loved ones.  The system has taken away our rights, our choices, and for some of us, our dreams for any freedom in the future.

When I was growing up, folks would say,” Keep quiet.. stay out of trouble….don’t hang with the wrong crowd”.  The greatest mistake I ever made was keeping quiet after being assaulted, not once but twice.  I should have shouted. I should have screamed, “I will NOT be ignored!”  Now I am in prison because I listened to them and tried to hide THEIR shame. I am in here because I tried to protect myself when no one else would.

Once someone becomes a part of the system, they are no longer human. They become whatever the state says they are. No choice, no voice.  Just a body to fill a bed and a number for the paperwork.  And for the worst of them, we are less than sub humans that sadistic monsters feel no remorse about torturing.

For those with loved ones in the system, support them, listen to their needs, ask them if they need help, then find it for them.

For my brothers and sisters caught in the system, do not be silenced. Do whatever it takes to make your voice heard and I promise it will get better.

~ Words of Ky

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August Campaigns

This month, we are promoting the Write the Governor Campaign.  We are focusing on sharing our support videos, writing letters to the Governor of Georgia, and getting signatures on Ky’s petition.  Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW),  Survived and Punished,  Project NIA,  Dean Spade, and CeCe McDonald, Freedom Overground now has an amazing promotional video that we hope everyone will share.

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Thoughts about the day ahead…. I never know how my day will be or how it will end. I try to have a routine so I will be more prepared for my release plus I like for things to be a certain way. I know that every day I am away from my family and friend I can’t get back but I have ways to stay in contact with them…. not all but some who have reached out to me. Its hard being here and some times I have to remind myself that one day I will be home and I will make the system look at the way they treat us.
I should not have to live in fear but I did for a long time.  The system breeds FEAR.  The same system that put me behind bars for defending myself . The system tells me everyday that  no one cared about what happened to me or people like me. So, now I have taken a stand even from behind these wall and I will be heard I will not be silenced. The only way to change anything is to make your voice heard and there is a way to do that without any violence. Write to the people in charge get petitions, have peaceful, marches, and easily TOGETHER to help change things that needs to be changed. You will face opposition and resistance but if we continue to push we will succeed.I believe it… Do you believe it too?… I hope every one has a safe and productive day. May God bless you all. Be safe and take care.
~ Words of Ky

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Chelsea, PIS, and Reality

Today has been a very bittersweet day.  I turned on my computer today to be inundated with the news of Chelsea Manning’s release from prison.  Shortly after, her first steps to freedom twitter post went viral.  There are a number of emotions, thoughts, and questions that I have struggled through today.

My first feelings for her are elation.  No matter what you feel about why she was locked up, Chelsea has served her debt to society, and then some. She deserves to be free, and now she will be able to live her life on her own terms.

Then heartbreak. Most incarcerated trans folks spent a lot of time in Solitary Confinement (“for their protection”), making the Post Incarceration Syndrome much worse.  PIS is no joke, and it is a debilitating type of PTSD that only those who have been locked-up can truly sympathize with.

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