June 11 2024 Statement

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for coming together to support all anarchist prisoners still kept from freedom. Your positivity and encouragement have meant the world to me, literally, this past year. Now that it has been some 16 years away from the free world for me, your stories have allowed me to connect to campaigns as different as saving the commons in Georgia to ending genocide in Gaza.

And as diverse as they are, these struggles hold at their heart the need to shift our system away from exploitation and disregard to one of mutual aid and respect; first for our planet, and then for our animal and plant relations and so importantly, for each other. Though my body is still caged, my heart is with you all. La lucha continua!

This year has marked a number of changes for me in prison. In September of last year, I was transferred to FMC Fort Worth in Texas. It felt ironic to be about a mile away from where I had spent so many years at FMC Carswell. It’s a small distance in miles, but a massive shift in ways of being, and a big step in fulfilling my request to medically transition.

This year will mark 11 years since I came out as trans at Carswell and officially requested Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) . To date, I have been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for nine years and have seen just one doctor to discuss the possibilities of a GRS procedure. I am now in my third year of living as a man in a men’s prison, having spent more than two years in FCI Danbury before this prison.

Things have moved glacially, and that has been both frustrating and concerning. The very real possibility of a roll-back on trans rights generally and an out and out refusal of trans rights in prison looms in the outcome of the next election. I have been at the gate and sent back once before, as the administration changed.

Conditions for trans people in prison are often humiliating and can be dangerous. Names matter to anyone, but in prison they can make the difference between safety and risk, between dignity and degradation, and between privacy and notoriety. It is part of the 2016 Transgender Prisoner Policy that a legal name change can be affected while in custody.

This new, legal name can be used in all official capacities, but only if the presiding judge in your instant offense is willing to make the change. If they are not, either because of prejudice or because of sheer laziness, then the policy right is not given and the BOP facility can ignore the right with impunity. It seems like a glitch in the policy, as it keeps it from being equally applied to all prisoners.

Not being able to use my legal name on prison documents has resulted in my degrees earned while in prison going to another name and I will have to use these credentials to get a job and be forced to disclose my status as trans in that first interview. The status of being trans is not a protected category, so that may affect my employment options like others similarly situated).

Also, hearing your dead name chanted at you by strangers in the chow hall is super weird or being accosted for sex anonymously (by a note, in another prison) because the name triggered something for somebody is gross and jarring. The risk is real when being “outed” as trans.

Worse treatment is still reserved for the young trans folks and transwomen in particular. I have been told of trans people’s experiences of being physically intimidated to hide caches of drugs or hooch, of being forced to perform sex acts for viewers or being beaten because of these performances, or of trading sex for safety or commissary.

It’s a cycle of abuse and Special Housing Unit (SHU) punitive time that steals trans women’s autonomy and “good time” while in prison. These experiences seem like a powerful argument for transwomen to be in female facilities for safety (if they choose), and for all trans people to use the legal name that best reflects them.

I hope that my community on the outside will stand by me in my continuing quest to access care. At 62 years of age, I have already passed the age when I could get the radial forearm phalloplasty procedure that I really wanted – but may still be able to get a simpler procedure. I was given this assessment by a caring and capable doctor, so I believe the advice.

I don’t want to “age out” of GRS entirely – but the clock is ticking. Please join me in advocating for all trans people, incarcerated or free, young or old to live their truth and to be treated with compassion and respect.

Next year, a better world!
Love and solidarity,
Marius Mason