While we were at A-Camp, I led a workshop titled, “Solidarity from the Mountain: Writing Letters to Incarcerated Queer and Trans Women.” We wrote letters to incarcerated members of Black and Pink, a national network of queer and trans incarcerated people and their free world allies, to send our support, to let them know they aren’t forgotten, and to share a little bit of the love and community we were building in our queer-normative space at A-Camp.
It felt really essential that we make space to think about incarcerated queer and trans people at A-Camp. As I wrote on Autostraddle,
“We know how important finding community and camaraderie in queer and trans spaces are, and we are lucky to have it, whether it comes for you in 3D at A-Camp, 2D on Autostraddle dot com, somewhere outside the Straddleverse, or maybe in some fourth dimension I don’t know about. I think it’s important that we remember our incarcerated queer and trans siblings who can’t share in those community spaces, because of the violence of a Prison Industrial Complex that targets and preys on queer and trans people, particularly queer and trans people of color — black trans women especially. I hope we can spread some of the love and support that comes in buckets on the Mountain to them.”
About 20 people attended the workshop and made beautifully hand-drawn cards, even though prison mail restrictions make it so we could pretty much only use computer paper and markers.
I interviewed Jason Lydon, founding director of Black and Pink, about how people living in the free world can show solidarity with incarcerated people. He told us about the significance of letter-writing:
“The experience of getting a letter is one of the most important moments or feelings of connection to something. So not only represents connection, it IS connection for prisoners that are receiving mail. It’s a moment to be thinking about something beyond the prison walls, to be reminded that someone is thinking of them. Hopefully that leads to reductions of self-harm and suicide, because LGBT folks and prisoners in particular have enormously high rates of suicide or self-harm, and so we are providing ongoing connection between people on the outside and the inside.”