For abridged statement and flyer click here.
Solidarity and greetings to you all! Thank you for coming together to celebrate our respected comrade’s regained freedom, as well as the many transitions that have taken place this past year. First and foremost, I’d like to wish both Eric and Jenny every possible happiness, and to express how grateful I am to their dedicated and capable legal team. This kind of victory should be savored and taken to heart as a lesson in solidarity and perseverance. While it’s a travesty that Eric lost 9 ½ years of his life unjustly, still, despite a social climate of hysteria and hype over domestic terrorism, our movement was able to come together to support Eric and to keep fighting until he was returned to his family and loved ones. We have to be in this struggle for the long haul, but this important win proves that we can make change when we remain committed.
But our solidarity work cannot end here, as reentry is a difficult process for any prisoner returning to the free world. We should make every effort to support Eric’s transition back into society, to help him get the education and training he needs to live a decent life (as he so well deserves). He has earned our help, support and gratitude with his life’s work and his integrity. I know that I am grateful for his work defending this Earth and for promoting compassion through veganism.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who has written a card or a letter, sent a song, a photo, or an article to me this year. It’s a constant regret of mine that it’s not possible to write back to everyone (though I do try to add folks to the contact list whenever I can). But I want to step up my efforts at staying in contact, as well as to thank folks for the many books I receive. Look for a new post once a month on the support website that will focus on book reviews, current events and poetry and paintings.
I’m happy to announce that with the cooperation of The Base and other community bookstores, and my dear friend Letha, the books that have been sent here (and have been shared around) will we sent on to a new round of sharing in the free world. I’m really, really glad to have this opportunity to spread this wealth around. The library at the prison here would no longer accept donations, so this was an excellent way to save these great books from the dumpster.
This year has been my hardest yet in prison. As the years go on, it gets harder to maintain important friendships, to keep up with the changes in my (now grown) children’s’ lives. I’m far from home, and visits are hard to set up and expensive. Incarceration unweaves the fabric of all families, and mine is no exception. My mother, Karin Mason, passed from cancer in December 2014. Her illness was sudden and intense. While I will always be grateful that my sister could care for her at home for hospice, it was really painful to be separated and barely able to be in contact during her weeks in hospice. My grief at her loss incapacitated me for quite a while. Many, many thanks to those who sent their sympathy and comfort during this time. Your kindness meant a great deal to me.
This has also been a challenging year because of my decision to transition, publicly, as male-identified. I can out to family first in the spring of last year. I feel incredibly fortunate that my family has maintained their loving connection with me. This is a gift of love and I know it. Coming out to friends over the next few months was awkward at times – laughter being a pretty common response – but went well, all in all. Coming out on the Unit was harder, as there was some social fall-out, and there still is some. In August, 2014, I finally spoke to the Warden to request medical help with transitioning. Warden Upton’s response was, and has consistently been, to be humane and to be in positive compliance with the BOP’s new policy. This is also very fortunate, and from reading in Prison Legal News, kind of unusual as a response.
So far, I have gone through the psychological interviewing process to get an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to have begun the medical screening process for future access to hormone therapy. I am requesting compete SRS, but right now it is unclear as to what medical procedures are permitted under the new policy. I’m trying to stay persistent and positive. Though I cannot at this point legally change my name in Texas (which is awkward) still the BOP has allowed mail addressed in my chosen name to be delivered to me (as long as it has my register number and last name)*. I have been issued boxers now, as part of my transition process – which feels like a small victory, a tangible sign of things changing.
I want to acknowledge all of the work, struggle, and sacrifice that other transfolk have made before me. I can’t tell you how sad I was that Leslie Feinberg passed. We lost them too soon. I know that whatever human rights I now enjoy were dearly bought, and I am grateful. I’d like to specifically thank the folks at Black and Pink for their publication. Several folks here get it, and it has made talking about my situation much, much easier.
I also want to thank all of the wonderful folks who wrote to pass on their wishes of support for my transition process. Though things have changed a lot since the mid90s when I had first wanted to come out, still social concepts always move at a glacial pace, and for much of society; gender, orientation, and race remain contested terrain. We still have a lot of work to do, but it can be done.
In conclusion, I have to end with a special shout out to my very own hero this year. What my advocate and friend, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, has done for me is nothing short of saving my life. Thank you, Moira, for believing in me, for getting me through the worst moments, and for patiently showing me the real power of solidarity. There are no works adequate to express my admiration, gratitude, and respect. Thank you all for being there for me – trust and believe that I’m in here for you. Love and solidarity, Forever.
*the BOP has changed their position on accepting mail with the name Marius. Please address letters to “M Mason” or “Marie Mason” and always include his register number: #04672-061. For more information on writing Marius see the Support page.