Chelsea Manning will be released from prison in 95 days, on May 17, 2017. For so many people who are allies and supporters of Chelsea, her release marks an important end to the trauma she underwent for the past three and a half years in a military prison that refused to recognize her basic humanity. Her upcoming release is an amazing feat. It is the result of a swell of support for her, and it is the reminder that we are at our most powerful when we work together.
I hope that, as people have rallied behind Chelsea and her right to basic dignity, we will also rally around the thousands of transgender and gender non-conforming people still left inside the United States’ many prisons, jails, and detention centers. One of the many lessons I have learned from working with TGNCI folks in prisons and jails is that we do not leave each other behind. From Ashley Diamond to CeCe to Chelsea, I have seen that the people who come home do not forget those who are still inside. So many active members at SRLP are formerly incarcerated people who show up to our meetings and rallies, who help shape our campaigns and bring voice to our messages because they remember what it is like to be alone and isolated in a prison or jail. At SRLP, we are reminded everyday that we do not leave people behind.
And as we count the days down to Chelsea’s return, it is important to remember that TGNCI people, especially women of color, are overrepresented in prisons and jails. This is because TGNCI people are over-policed due to our gender identity and expression, our race, and/or our presumed immigration status. In addition, so many of us live in poverty due to the transphobia we face in trying to secure employment and the familial transphobia that leaves us disproportionately homeless.
Let’s make Chelsea’s return home the first among many more to come. Let us keep fighting together to stop the incredible harms that the prison industrial complex causes in our communities. As Chelsea herself has said, “We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. We need to stop hoping that our systems will right themselves. We need to actually take the reins of government and fix our institutions. We need to save lives by making change at every level.” I hope that you will join the legacy of Chelsea, Ashley, CeCe, and so many incredible survivors of the prison industrial complex and take action at evey level to reduce the harm, the pain, and the isolation that our loved ones face.
Below are four concrete steps you can take today:
- Visit SRLP’s campaign page to stop the reduction in visits for people in NYS prisons.
- Join the #closeRIKERS campaign and show up to the rally on Monday, February 13
- Join the HALT Solitary campaign and make New York State a leader when it comes to stopping the torturous use of solitary
- Print out SRLP’s solidarity cards below and send it to someone on the inside. Let them know that they are loved and never forgotten.