Black and Pink Issue 3: Coming Out as Trans

Our Third Installation from the queer prison abolition network Black and Pink

Rapunzel 9”x12” Colored pencil

Artwork by
David R. Flint Jr #267953
Avon Park Correctional Institution
A-1106-U PO Box 1100
Avon Park, FL 33826-1100

Hello Family of Black & Pink,

My name is Charles, known by people as Amber Maree Cooper. I am a 24 year old transexual. I have not had the surgery yet. I’m from Maryland, and I am a recovering drug addict. I was addicted to “E” pills, in the medical world known as “MDMA”. I have 5 years clean today. I am in prison in a Maximum Security Slave Plantation/Modern Day Warehouse in Maryland.

I am due to be released later this year, I am so excited since I’ve been down on this 5 year bit, it’s been a ride. Family, let me tell you I came in the door as a white anti-racist, I look up to Mutulu Shakur, George Jackson, Abu-Jamal, and Malcolm X. I hate oppression, I hate racist people, most of all I hate the prison-industrial complex. Mrs. Neely is 100% right- for everyone in the family who has never been behind the walls, this is a major tentacle of the slaveocracy which exists in the United States and beyond. I get paid 62 cents a day to clean a building of 300+ inmates. That’s nothing compared to others’ job descriptions: Cut grass on 80+ acres with a push mower for 70 cents a day- straight crazy! I quit, I’m no slave, and I got a ticket and went on lock up.

Family, I am young but I am motivated for change, I just need the support of my fellow Brothers and Sisters, and I’ve found in in the Black & Pink Family. I give big thanks to Occupy 4 Prisoners movement, and all the others who are trying to help us LGBTQ Sisters and Brothers in this Hell hole of a Jim Crow place. I am in one of the most racist prisons in the state of Maryland. I’ve done been beat, had my jaw broke, urinated on, starved to the point of needing medical attention, sprayed with mace, all by these Correctional Slavemasters who call themselves CO’s. All because I’m trying to change their system and I expose their dirty laundry when a lot of others are too weak to do so.

Just to give you guys a little input on what my goals are for when released. If I can get some help once people see that I am for real and not just talking, I want to start a Prisoner’s Movement and I would love for the help from the Black & Pink family. I think it would be a great accomplishment for this newly founded family to really change this corrupt enterprise. And let those Wall Street fools know that LGBTQ is nothing to play with, because we get crap done with the support and guidance from our Higher Power. I’ve had 4 Federal Civil cases but lost because I am in their house, I have to play by their rules. But I think I’ll have better chances at getting laws passed once I am on the street, what do you guys think??  🙂

My Coming Out Story
It was the winter of 2000. I was 14 years old and I was sitting on my front porch with my sister, the dude I was messing with at the time, and a friend of mine, and out of the blue I jumped up out of my lawn chair and I said, “I’m tired of living this way. I’m tired of living in denial of who I am and what makes me happy, the way that God made me.”
So I stormed in the house. Crying, I went upstairs to my Mom’s room and I woke her up. It was 12:00 am. I said ‘Mom, I have something I want to tell you’, and she said ‘Chuck, tell me.’ I said ‘Mom, please don’t be mad at me and please don’t stop loving me,’ she said ‘I won’t’. I was crying like I’d been shot. I said ‘Mom I am gay, I am in love with boys.’ My Mom looks at me and dries my tears and says ‘Chuckie, I’ve known ever since you were 8 years old that you were gay. You are my son and I’ll love you no matter what.’ I looked at her and said ‘Mom, thanks, I love you too’ then I left.

Once I got down stairs I said to myself Man Oh Man, that was easy, and I felt so much better. Now I had to tell my Dad, but that was going to be very very hard, because I used to hear my Dad talk about gays, lesbos, and black people like they were the worst in the world. But I said ‘he’s going to be just like Mom, he will love me for who I am.’ So I called him, I said ‘Hello Dad, how are you, I do not mean to wake you but I want to tell you something that’s been bothering me and on my mind that I’ve been hiding from you.’ He said ‘What son?’. I said ‘Dad, I’m gay. I like men’. I heard him suck his teeth like he was taking his last breath, then he hung up on me. 15 minutes later, he called me back and these were his words: “You f***ing n****r-loving faggot, if you ever come to my house or around me I’ll hang you over an apple tree and watch your ass die.” I broke down in tears and it shot me down. At that young age I could not deal with it. I went upstairs and cried and cried. I felt so disgusted with myself and God for making me like this, that I tried to kill myself and was admitted to an Adolescent Psych Hospital.

Family, that’s the short version of my coming out story. It’s different now, I’m out like the sun, and I advocate and try to help the ones who are too scared to exit the closet and be free. I want us to talk more in this Newsletter about starting a movement to end oppression against our community and everyone, and end the prison system.
Till next time, keep it cute or put it on mute. Much love to the B&P Family and all the LGBTQ out there.

Love Eternally,
Charles / Amber Maree Cooper, Maryland

What is Justice 12”x9” Colored pencil

Dearest Sisters & Brothers,

Hey, It’s Deirdre out in dusty old Nevada, and I’m sorry I haven’t written for so long. Forgive me? First I want to thank you all for your support in last year’s election. It hasn’t been misplaced either, as I have some great news to share with all of you.
Count Nevada as another of the states to be challenged in it’s transphobic laws, and beaten! I’ve been fighting the State and N.D.O.C. [Nevada Dept of Corrections] for transgender rights and for my hormones and care in a § 1983 action for the last four or so years. After a very long and very hard fight, I was called and offered settlement by the A.G.’s office. Punch for punch, kick for kick I’ve traded with these people for so long, and now I’m getting everything I’ve asked for in my complaint, minus money (which I didn’t expect anyway). I told them that I would accept no less than being seen be a real doctor and to be prescribed my E.H.T.’s; after some back and forth, I was offered precisely that!
My advice is this: if you have a need and desire, fight for it! Find someone to help you if you can. Get your prison system’s rules for medical care and Transgender care (if they have any). Get everything! Start out by asking for help and be sincere and persistent. If that doesn’t work, start your grievance process. Be prepared for retaliation, and keep going. Keep your cool and don’t fall into them trying to trip you up. Don’t act stupid, and keep track of every comment and action by keeping a journal. After taking your grievances as far as they can go, file in your local courts. Make the State remove it to the Federal level and pay for it. Ask your law library for copies of the court’s rules, at each level: county/state, Federal district, and then the Appellate level (if necessary). At this point make sure you keep all your deadlines up and don’t be late on filings. Don’t let the opposition or your prison or even the courts intimidate you. Keep swinging.


For example: I had my complaint dismissed at the “Screening Phase” in the Federal District courts (see HUNDLEY v. POAG, 3:10-CV-00406-RCJ-VPC) due to: not exhausting my Grievance process, not stating a claim, and for including N.D.O.C. and the State of Nevada as defendants. This dismissal was “with prejudice.” All of that was wrong, as I did exhaust all grievances, I did state a claim (six times), and naming the State & N.D.O.C. at the state level is required. By the way, kids, the courts cannot “dismiss with prejudice” a complaint by a Pro Se (that’s you- without a lawyer) litigant. You are entitled to amend your complaint.
By now you are going to file an appeal in your Fed. Appellate Court (for me it was the 9th Circuit). Follow all the rules and timelines accurately and promptly. You will have to pay the docketing fee (about $450), but if you’re ‘In Forma Pauperis’ [don’t have the money] it can be made in increments of 20% of whenever you get money on your books. This is where you get them, because they don’t expect you to do it! How much is your health & happiness worth to you?

Bottom line? Keep fighting no matter what! They will try everything to make you quit (and they did with me). Don’t ever quit! Every single victory we make adds up. We must keep fighting. Women, Blacks, Latinos, gays and lesbians- we all go through it. The Transgender community needs to put our work in and step up to be recognized and understood, boys and girls. It’s our turn to be able to give to those youngsters who will follow us the ability to exist with pride and happiness. Keep fighting!  Just because we are prisoners, on top of being transgender, doesn’t mean we must suffer in two prisons. Fight. Spread your wings and take flight and let no one keep you down! I had no help, no attorney, no advocacy group (though I asked all of them for help), no family. Just me and a sincere and strong desire to be whole. That what brought my victory. You can do it too!

In Love & Strength,

Jamee Deirdre, Nevada