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CeCe is FREE! And a new letter from inside

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CeCe McDonald’s release this week is great news; one less trans woman who is forced to survive within the toxic confines of a hostile prison-industrial complex is reason enough to celebrate. Add to that both the media attention drawn to her early release by way of SRLP-supporter Laverne Cox’s celebrity accompaniment, and the documentary Cox is producing – FREE CECE, which “examines the culture of violence experienced by trans women of color” – and we can perhaps say that there is an important shift happening in the way transgender people are portrayed in the media.

A currently-incarcerated prisoner advisory committee (PAC) member, Synthia, reminds us that CeCe’s triumph is a story of freedom that many of our sisters – who are currently incarcerated in prisons designated for men – still dream of for themselves.

Warning: The following letter conveys a personal account of physical, sexual and verbal abuse, and has not been edited in any way. Proceed with caution if you may be triggered by these topics or the use of profanity and derogatory slurs.


“¡100% Transsexual (Trans – sex – ual)!”
by Synthia.

Why the extra “s”? “Synthia” is my name. I’ve been in prison most of my life. I’m not here to cry to you, boo-hoo, she’s in jail, let’s feel sorry for her!

¡No thanks!

Don’t require your pity only your full attention.

Raped, beaten, denied medical care, and constantly subjected to the worst crimes imaginable… torture …

All within a prison meant to “rehabilitate me.”

Imagine being called a faggot all day long! Having urine, feces, and semen thrown in your face, personal property, pictures of your deceased mother.

Imagine the officer (correction officer) telling you “Man up kid! This is jail!”

That’s my life.

I use this time to voice my complete disgust to any member in authority who sits back and says “You’re a man trapped in your own body, fuck it, handle it, it’s not my problem if I didn’t break the law.”

Hell, thank you. Thank you for proving to me what I already knew, that we live in a society that keeps watch of other countries, and we go off to these countries, we bomb them. We liberate them, and we come back with enough blood “oil” to heat our prisons so the prisoners we torture are not cold during the long winter nights. After all, we do care more about oil than we do our own citizens.

People fly planes into buildings and we label them “terrorists”. Prisoners are severely beaten and abused and we turn our backs. Protect the officer who did his job! ‘NYPD behind bars’!

I live in a prison with over 1900 male inmates. I am a woman who – because my vagina was formed into a penis – I am a boy!


Snip, snip, stitch, stitch, it’s over. Brand new vagina. Now send me to a woman’s prison so the C.O.’s can do to me what they are known to do with other incarcerated women.

What that might be?

Surely I don’t have to answer that question.

I am a single voice. A single victim. A strong Latina woman trying to survive this hell I live in. So please, don’t feel bad for me. There are way more people in this world who deserve your attention. But if you do at least care, drop a line and tell me two simple words:

“In Solidarity.”

Never knew such small words would make me feel loved.

* * *

“The way in which our society deals with minorities is a guide to our civilization.”

–   Barrister David Pannick


Note: This is not an anti-government or war blog. This is just a newsflash.

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The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence.

This blog, which features letters from our Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) members, is just one way we overcome the enormous state-created barriers to communication and political participation for the people who are most affected by the prison system.

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