Written by Amy Hufnagel and Giovanna Phipps
Amy is the Associate Director of the Sing Sing Prison Museum and Giovanna Phipps is the Social Media Manager of the Sing Sing Prison Museum.
The Sing Sing Prison Museum (SSPM) has a revised mission statement. Sing Sing Prison Museum shares stories of incarceration and reform, past and present, and brings people together to imagine and create a more just society. This mission helps us focus our work yet is broad enough to allow for lots of invention and creativity. As we begin to put this new mission into practice, we start by reactivating “What we are reading” by sharing a book and podcast. Our June 2023 recommendations link both to our mission and to celebrating Pride Month. We want to encourage our audiences to consider and learn from all who identify as LGBTQIA+ and their allies.
Reading and listening is a means to share important stories. Literacy, and access to digital resources, is a social justice issue. Reading and listening to be more informed about the nuances of people’s lives and experience, to truly understand their life stories, builds empathy and can lead to more social justice engagement. To that end, The Sing Sing Prison Museum continues its “What we are Reading” series and adds a “listening” component. Further, starting this fall, we will also add a community engagement component to these books and podcast episodes for those who live in the Ossining, NY region. The in-person component, an evening discussion, will be co-hosted by our amazing local independent Hudson Valley Books for Humanity. We are also working with our local library to make sure the books we profile are available for free to our community as well. Be sure to join our newsletter to receive news of this and other events
On the other hand, some individuals did not feel safe going into a men’s prison as a transgender male. The rates of transgender females transferring to female prisons are substantially higher than transgender males transferring to male prisons – as referenced in the episode, no transgender males have transferred. The requirement to be transferred is to identify as trans female or male, but the vetting process can take years to be approved. Some believe that cisgender males will use this legislation to have access to better prison conditions or to both cisgender and transgender females. For more, listen here:
Ryan states, “And that is the reason why so many gender-nonconforming people, why so many queer women, lesbian women, butches, studs, trans men get caught up in the prison system, because for those people who are concerned about the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, queerness was seen as a threat to ever being a normal, healthy, happy, productive member of society.” As we expand our definitions of gender expression and identity, the rigidity of gender in the United States Incarceration system comes under scrutiny.
Ask your local bookstore to find you the book! This book is also available at the Chappaqua Library, Irvington Public Library, Ossining Public Library, Rye Free Reading Room, Scarsdale Public Library, Scarsdale Public Library, White Plains Public Library, and Yonkers Grinton I. Will Library, and Yonkers Riverfront Library.