Good Day Dear Friends and Supporters,
Below is the letter I will deliver to Senator Brown and Congressman Keating during my visit to Washington, DC during the week of April 16th and to other members of the Senate and Congress.
David and I are grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank all of you for the overwhelming support that we’ve received from you.
April 16, 2012
Dear Senators, and Congresspersons,
The purpose of our visit today is to request your support in drafting Equal Rights Legislation for the protection of all residents of the United States including but not limited to Lesbians, Gays, and Transgender citizens. This legislation would be similar to the Civil Rights Act signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson with one exception; this time no human resident of the United States would be excluded.
At the moment LGBT Rights organizations are fighting one State at a time for the right to marriage equality for same-sex couples. In every instance where a State may allow same-sex marriage it remains vulnerable to the passage of one administration to the next or from one election to the next. The right to marry is under constant attack from religious organizations that wish to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In my opinion this is a form of religious persecution.
When our ancestors arrived at Plymouth Rock fleeing religious persecution, America was born. Yet today the tides have turned and the religions of the right will stop at nothing in their quest of persecuting and denying the rights of others who do not conform to their concept of religion. This in itself is a violation of the United States Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson eloquently states in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
At no time are we advocating the abolition of our United States Government but what we are suggesting is that the rights of all citizens must be upheld through our laws, without the interference of religious beliefs or any other beliefs to interfere with the administration of such rights. Our Constitution states that no State may implement a law which discriminates against its citizens. Yet throughout the history of our Country many States have usurped the United States Constitution with laws which have clearly demonstrated discrimination against one class of citizens or another.
Everyday in our country LGBT children are made to suffer from the discrimination and abuse of those same religious beliefs. In our schools children are bullied and sometimes beaten because of their differences. The children who are doing the bullying are merely repeating the voices of their parents’ hate of diversity, which is reflected in their children’s behaviors. This is causing long term emotional devastation to children who will grow into adulthood with permanent emotional and physical scarring.
Each year children are thrown away by their parents because they are born differently. These abandoned children are forced to live on the streets to experience starvation, brutality, and abuse after being told by their own parents that they aren’t worth loving. This forces many of them into the sex trade just to have a meal to eat. Of all minority classes of people, Transgenders are the most vulnerable to this type of brutality and are now at the highest risk of contracting HIV and AIDS. All of these bullying and abusive actions stem from religious beliefs which state that Transgender children are somehow deviants.
Personally, I have witnessed the devastation caused to transgender persons and the emotional damage these sorts of actions create. Transgenders are denied equal rights to housing, medical care, shelters, and a host of other rights that are guaranteed to most individuals. Transgender females may even have their legal marriages invalidated in individual states.
I would like to present three cases in addition to my own, beginning with Christie Lee Littleton in Texas, whose marriage was invalidated after she attempted to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of her husband Jonathan. They had been happily married for seven years with Jonathan’s full knowledge of her history as a transgender woman. Christie was denied equal protection under the law when it was ruled that even though she’d undergone surgery, she was still male because of her chromosomes.
The second case is the case of J’Noel Gardiner of Kansas whose marriage was invalidated as a same sex marriage after the death of her husband, when her step-son Joe contested the will based on the fact the J’Noel is a transgender female. Once again the equal protection of the law was denied because of a birth condition.
The third case is the most recent and involves another transgender female from Texas; Nikki Araguz’s marriage was invalidated after her fire-fighter husband was killed in the line of duty. The result was the denial of her rights to a widow’s benefits.
I would like to point out that in each case this discrimination is against only transgender females who were married to men. In the State of Texas, Gov. Rick Perry has agreed to support and sign into law legislation making transgender marriage illegal.
And then we come to my story of how my marriage was invalidated in the State of Georgia and then I was wrongly prosecuted for stealing a family vehicle. I was imprisoned for four years after my fatal mistake of giving up during one of the court hearings and pleading guilty. During the months preceding that fateful day I had been subjected to such overwhelming and abusive discrimination that I sank into the deepest hole of depression that I’d ever experienced. It was clear that I would never receive a fair trial based on the facts, when even the legal team appointed to represent me told me that I was condemned to hell for changing what God had created. Two days later I attempted to withdraw my plea, but I was immediately shipped off to prison.
When I arrived at Metro State Prison in Atlanta I discovered that I had been imprisoned under my original male birth name, Eddie James Mundell. Over four years I was harassed, threatened, and denied equal protection of the law as I navigated my way through the legal system filing a writ of Habeas Corpus. My legal documents were either thrown away or sent late, thus missing court deadlines. I was repeatedly denied usual and customary hearings with the parole board and I served the entire four year sentence. It became so bad that I filed a discrimination suit in the Northern District Court in Atlanta. At each step I had to become my own attorney and eventually won the right to a Habeas hearing from the Georgia Supreme Court. Although I lost at that hearing, I did feel a victory with the last comment made by the State Attorney to the Judge when she stated that the State was not stating that a theft ever occurred but that since our marriage was not a legal marriage and I was in possession of the vehicle I was guilty. I believe that said it all. The State of Georgia has since wiped my criminal record clean including any record of my incarceration . What do remain are the transcripts of the Habeas hearing in Dekalb County and my Federal lawsuit in the Federal Archives.
At several times since then I have come under attack because of the tabloid articles of that time. The most recent instance was in Panama City, Florida where I was wrongfully arrested and convicted on three counts of grand theft when running a legitimate business. During that process my sex was listed as male on a warrant, I was forced to submit to humiliating gender verification in non-medical settings, my former male birth name surfaced again and was listed on the indictment, and I lived under a death threat. Needless to say this caused undue confusion and unnecessary humiliation. I am currently suing the Florida State Attorney, the Panama City Police, and the Parker Police in the Northern District Federal Court in Panama City and this time I am represented by Civil Rights Attorney Marie Mattox of Tallahassee.
My life was destroyed repeatedly because I am a transgender female. Regardless of my experiences I am still one of the fortunate ones. Every year around the world including right here in the United States transgenders are brutally murdered. Some of the stories of how they died so brutally can be viewed on the internet and are shared every year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20th. Website address: http://www.transgenderdor.org/ At each event I attend my heart breaks and the tears still flow as I imagine just how each one suffered at the hands of their executioner. Transgenders are not deviants as believed by the religious right. If this were the case, children at three, four, and five years old would not be announcing this fact to their parents. This is a birth condition that must be recognized and protected as such.
I witnessed first hand the look of hate and disgust as I was told that I am a deviant, even by a legal system that is supposed to uphold the truth and administer justice. To this day I am desperately afraid of the police and I become physically ill when I have to enter a courthouse.
Because our country is a world leader, it is imperative that we lead by example and institute legislation to protect our citizens and residents from these sorts of hate crimes. I recall the fifties and sixties when it was still legal to deny equal protection to the black community in our country. I remember when a black man could be hung from a tree without one thought for the suffering of the family he would leave behind. As a teenager I crossed the USA with my family and remember the signs “Whites Only,” or “No Niggers Allowed.” I was appalled then and I am appalled now whenever I encounter this type of discrimination, and certainly we as transgenders are seeing it today in this country. Where are the laws to protect us from this type of discrimination and hatred?
As a historical transgender figure in this country I implore you to examine your conscience and take action through the drafting of legislation that will protect the rights of all humans in the United States. With such legislation the need to take on one State at a time would come to an end and millions of dollars spent each year on individual lawsuits could be used to improve the conditions of our homeless children. Canada has already drafted such legislation, which is now being heard in the House of Commons. Let us all live our dreams without fear and enjoy the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.