As public awareness increases about transgender persons and the injustices they face, there’s still more focus on issues like bathroom right than on the hate crimes and violence that people of trans experience often survive.
There is an unusually high population of Trans men and women being held with the U.S prison system. One of them is Ky Peterson. Upon arriving in prison, Ky has suffered continuous dehumanizing treatment from Pulaski State Prison’s staff and officers. Like many people caught unaware in the Georgia legal system, Ky was bullied into signing a plea “deal” in 2011 despite clear evidence of the brutal attack he survived.
Ky’s case draws into sharp relief the ways that racial and gender discrimination make acute the routine lapses in due process, medical negligence, and dehumanization that characterize the U.S criminal justice system and the U.S. prison system.
The gender binary upholds particular kinds of vulnerabilities and punishments for Ky and other transgender and gender non-conforming people in prisons and jails across the United States.
- At Pulaski State Prison, where Ky has been incarcerated for 4 years, 10% of the population identifies as male or gender non-conforming. The Administration at Pulaski has taken a hard-line stance against gender nonconformity, instructing guards to only use female pronouns, creating ad-hoc rules, for example, about hair length. Disciplinary Reports are given to people for expressing preferred gender presentation, including hair shorter than 2 inches. In one case an inmate at Pulaski was charged with assault for giving a friend a “masculine” haircut.
- Ky and other gender non-conforming people at Pulaski have been placed in solitary confinement for “their own protection,” despite evidence of the psychological and physical violence of long-term solitary confinement.
- The Georgia State Prison system has recently come under scrutiny for medical mismanagement, including hiring unlicensed physicians. One of these un-credentialed doctors, Dr. Nazaire, denied Ky an asthma pump for seven months. Until recently, Ky has also been denied hormone treatments.
Freedom is a fledgling grassroots organization whose mission is to provide support for trans survivors of assault and incarceration. We are building an organization which will guide Trans/ GNC post-incarcerated to build a life above the underground economy. Our goals are to;
- Raise funds and support for individuals with post-incarceration living
- Raise awareness of Post Incarceration Syndrome/ Disorder, and how it contributes to repeated targeting by police, repeated incarceration, and being forced it survive in the underground economy.
- Reduce recidivism by pushing facilities to end solitary confinements, provide adequate education, reentry programs, and mental health care.
Pinky Shear is an incarceration survivor advocate for prison reform, and civil rights, activist. Her tireless efforts on behalf of Ky Peterson have helped lead to the policy change and enforcement of the Ga. Dept. of Correction’s procedures for the treatment of Transgender and GNC prisoners. Pinky has been a figure in the Atlanta community for a number of years lending her experience and perspectives to various speaking engagements at conventions, conferences, and local community groups. The cumulative effect of these experiences and the sharing of painful stories led Pinky to form Freedom Overground in 2017 with Ky Peterson, Ashley Diamond, and Mike Cenna, to take the fight for trans prisoners rights and prison reform to a National stage.
Media and Appearances for Pinky Include:
- Allied Media Conference 2017: Survived and Punished Attending Guest
- Atlanta Pride 2016: Trans Pride Guest Speaker
- Trans Fitness Conference 2016: Guest Speaker
- OutlantaCon 2015 – 2017: Program Presenter
- DragonCon 2015- 2016: Program Presenter
- Advocate: Locked in Prison, Ky Peterson Gets Some Good News
- Project Q Atlanta: Transgender inmate fights for survival in Georgia prison
Ashley Diamond is a transgender civil-rights activist and aspiring musician. Ashley received national attention when she was wrongfully housed in a men’s prison for a nonviolent offense. While in prison she was denied medically necessary hormones she had been taking for over seventeen years, was beaten and sexually assaulted by both inmates and prison guards. From inside the prison, Ashley filed a Federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections and she won. With the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Ashley also filed a civil suit against the GDOC, winning policy change and reparations for the trauma she suffered. Her winning cases helped launch an investigation by the Department of Justice, into the care and treatment of LGBTQ inmates in Georgia prisons. Ashley’s case also changed Georgia prison system’s policy on hormones, and safe housing for transgender inmates and has enforced prison officials to undergo sensitivity training.
Since being released from prison, Ashley continues to fight for the rights of transgender inmates and post-incarceration services. She has even had the opportunity to speak with President Obama regarding the needs of Trans POC caught within the legal system.
Media and Appearances for Ashley Include:
- Department of Justice: LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Briefing
- ViceLand’s Gaycation: Trans Woman Ashley Diamond Fights for Prison Reform in Georgia
- Advocate: Feds Probe Georgia’s Treatment of LGBT Prisoners
- NBC Atlanta: Transgender woman: I was raped, mistreated in Georgia prison
- GLAAD: Transgender inmate Ashley Diamond reaches settlement with Georgia’s Department of Corrections
- Al Jazeera America: Trans woman discusses life in all-male prison after release
- Atlanta Magazine: After unexpected parole, transgender inmate Ashley Diamond picks up the pieces of her life
- The New York Times: Ashley Diamond, Transgender Inmate, Is Out of Prison but Far From Free
- NBC News: Transgender Inmate Suing Ga. Prison System Granted Surprise Early Release
- The New York Times: Transgender Woman Cites Attacks and Abuse in Men’s Prison
- Advocate: DOJ Tells State Prisons: Denying Trans Inmates Hormone Therapy Is Unconstitutional
- Huffington Post: Georgia Accused Of Sentencing Transgender Woman To ‘Torture’
Request a Speaker
Pinky and Ashley are available as presenters at events for Trans Rights, Victim’sSupport, Prison Reform, and more. They are available on a sliding scale, however, travel and housing must be provided for long distance events. All bookings must be made at least 30 days in advance.