I want us to play a game. I want you to imagine yourself living in Florida and working as a counselor. In your spare time you like to surf and enjoy the beautiful hot Florida sun on your skin. You fall in love with a lovely woman and you decide to get up and move with her to the less trans friendly place of Virginia, which is a region known for being the mainstay of Evangelical fundamentalist Jerry Falwell. You two decide to get married and as time goes on she turns on you. She couldn’t bear the stigma of being partnered with a trans person. She completely and utterly abandons you.
Lets stop playing the game now that I’ve got your attention. Maybe this story doesn’t give you the warm fuzzy feelings in your heart but hang tight….. This story gets worse.
After losing a woman he thought supported him, he was convicted of a felony. His crime? Being transgender — he put the letter “M” on his marriage certificate. He was convicted to forgery of a marriage certificate. This was considered a FELONY.
Let’s pause for a moment. Did you read that? A FELONY. According to the dictionary a felony is:
noun /ˈfelənē/ felonies, plural
1. A crime, typically one involving violence, regarded as more serious than a
misdemeanor, and usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one
year or by death.
He was sentenced to five years in jail. His sentence was later suspended to one year, which he has spent wholly in solitary confinement. This is what happens to people in our community whose mere existence causes them undue harm and institutional oppression and further, become subjected to the prison industrial complex.
Don’t you want me to just say this is a terrible start to an awful novel or movie or something? Sadly, I can’t. This story is true. The man this has happened to is named Levi Gammons. He is currently still in prison and will be released at the end of next month with nothing but the clothes on his back. He’s lost everything and now has a felony on his record. He has no outside support after he is released. In a letter Levi writes, “Here in Virginia my [re-entry program] opportunities are very limited because of being trans. In this state I would not be able to enter into the men’s housing or women’s. So where most people can move into half-way house or programs, I am not allowed simply due to my being trans. This is a scary feeling. No home, money, very scary.” Levi put every penny into his move to Virginia and with his parents long passed and no siblings, he literally has no support system.
Earlier this year myself and my friend, Sarah Jenny, became pen-pals with Levi after we had learned about his story. We developed a friendship with this man and started to worry for his future after he was released. Last month Sarah Jenny approached me and asked if we should start a fundraiser for Levi. The rest is history and so begins the indiegogo fundraiser.
This is where we turn to you. We ask that you be in solidarity with Levi and show him that he has a community to come home to when he gets out. You can learn more about Levi’s story on our indiegogo website .
This blog reaches thousands of people daily. Can you imagine how much money we could raise Levi if each of you donated $1? Or even $2? Don’t have a dollar? You can learn about other ways of helping Levi by going to SUPPRORT LEVI.
If we can’t help one another, who will? Let’s show Levi that we are out here and that we care.
In closing, Levi writes, “I can’t tell you how much this means to me. I really appreciate it. You have my blessings and thanks to go for it. Put it out there to the whole world.”