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Out of the Hell-Hole, into the Calming Storm – Letter from a former PAC Member

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“Out of the Hell-Hole into the Calming Storm,”
by Grace DeTrevarah.

Hey Family:

It’s me again. Grace…I would like to first say that’s it’s so refreshing to be Out of Corrections and into the “World” where being a Transgender was the focus of my movement.  It continues to be so fitting to be out of a controlled environment. To be able to be myself, when so many negative behaviors came with one’s mere existence.  Primarily, because I’m Transgender.  I have been a PAC member since 2003 while being incarcerated while at Oneida Correctional (now closed).

Getting out of prison can be a surreal experience because being constantly nervous about so many things regarding “ prison Life,” stays on one’s mind.  So being Home is just so great.  Things for me have been relatively falling into place.  While being “inside” one of many goals that I set for myself was to get involved with LGBT rights.  However, I wanted to be useful and make a difference.  On my 6th day home I came to SRLP and I have been able to schedule days to come into the office.  Getting to know the functions and agenda’s of the day, week and month has been so exiting.  I just hope that I will be able to contribute something that is relevant as well as needed.

While being incarcerated I had begun to start to form my Memoirs.  Before I was released I had written up to 250 pages.  Coming home has allowed me to continue my writing. There has been a natural state of anxiousness and wanting to “do” so much.  That I have had to slow down and focus, just to get things to be realistic.  I’m just glad that one of the first things I had to do was go to SRLP.

While being inside I had begun to advocate for myself.  With the assistance and guidance of SRLP I was able to become “legally verse.”  To the dismay of DOCCS and certain facility Administration’s I began to make a name for myself.  Even becoming popular with the inmate General population.  Being elected to the ILC as Secretary while being in Wallkill.  My being Transgender was a constant “focus” of the Administration.  However, I was clever enough not to allow my gender status to deter me from advocating for the General Population.  I’m aware that a many of you-all aren’t willing or able to put themselves out there as I did.  But know that advocating for one’s self in my opinion is almost required to “survive” while in NYC/NYSDOCCS.   Why do I believe this?  In my opinion a lot times the situations and incidents that can occur with a Transgender inmate can be problematic or even “lost” on certain people.  Even if they want to assist or help. So memorizing the Rules, Directives and Policies regarding inmates was what “saved” me and allowed me to safe-guard myself when incidents and negative situations occurred.  I have always informed my fellow Transgender individuals who are incarcerated to acknowledge the Documents spoken of previously.  I would hope that I can began to be of some-what of service and even advocate for “the Folk” while I’m out here.

So people know that you will be hearing more from me…I have intentions and plans to do so many things regarding Transgender rights for the incarcerated as well as the voice-less.  Until then I would hope that Pac will have an impact on your Life while your inside.  I know that PAC gave me the initiative as well as the Legal tools to just “survive” while I was incarcerated.  Know that there can be “Light” at the end of the darkness !

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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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