Strawberry Hampton is an incarcerated Black transgender woman in Illinois. For my TRANS BEHIND BARS column at Shadowproof, I reported on her experience fighting sexual violence behind bars, which she explained was retaliation for speaking up against the Illinois Department of Corrections. Read more about her story here.
You can materially support sister Strawberry by donating to her Patreon. If you are unable to financially contribute, it also helps to spread her words widely with anyone who will listen.
Below is a transcript of the video above. Special thanks to Eric Vitale, who put the video together and transcribed the audio. You can also watch this video on my Facebook page and IGTV.
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Hi, my name is Deon Strawberry Hampton. I’m a 29 year old Black transgender woman on the south side of Chicago. And today I want to say happy Pride to all my beautiful rainbows and butterflies.
On this special day, I want to bring awareness to how transgender Black women is mistreated on a daily basis. You know, since me being in this system of trying to survive in the street. It led me to becoming in jail. And by me being in these jail cells. I have been raped. I have been beaten. I have been ridiculed. I have been gay bashed for being a Black transgender woman. The police have been so designed to have Black trans women to destroy us, to divide us. But most importantly, to hurt us mentally, physically and emotionally. I have witnessed Black transgender women beaten by the hands of correctional officers. I have witnessed Black transgender women beaten by police officers. Me, myself.
I was 16 years old coming from a loving house. And I was walking down the street, going to the train station. And instead of the police pulling me over and asking me what I was doing, they told me I looked like I was doing something suspicious. And they pulled me into an alley. And when they pulled me into an alley, I told them that I was transgender. Not only did they get physical with me, they ripped my clothes off me. They forced they fingers inside me until I was bleeding. They arrested me and told me that I was trespassing. But they never said what I was trespassing for. And when I went to the judge and I made a complaint about how I was sexually assaulted by the Chicago PD from Bill Minor Westermann, I was. So there was nothing they can do. Go file a complaint at the police station. I self-destruct. I was mentally and emotionally messed up. And I’ve come from abuse as a child, as a teenager and as an adult. I want to say did no matter how much I’ve been victimized, I am a survivor and on this special day I would like to give thanks to all the Black trans women, but to all trans people, period in the LGBT community.
I want to say that we must fight to stop this nasty behavior that the police put amongst us. I want to say that we must stop the hatred that the court put against us. We are outsiders to this world, the churches, the politicians, the governments, the judges. They ridicule us for being trans people. And every time that I’ve been arrested, I have not been given the opportunity to have been treated fairly. A cis man could get locked up for a gun charge and get probation. But a trans woman can get locked up for stealing food and get seven to three years in prison while this cis man is out. It clearly shows that we have no protection. We have no rights. And until we fight for our rights, until we get recognized for our rights, we must continue to fight.
This is a day of celebration that we come together to fight the battle of abolishment of prisons and abolish police brutality. I have fought for years my whole life to make it so I’m able to walk down the street so other people like me can walk down the street. But I also want to give thank you to women of all race and all genders that fought to make it better for me and transgenders like me to live a better life. For all the people that have died, for all the people that have fought the great battle to make me have a voice. I was there with them in silence and given on my voice for the voiceless. I will fight for the weak. I will fight for you. I will fight. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to bring awareness to the cruelty of trans Black women. We are being killed on a daily basis. We are being raped on a daily basis. We are being beaten. We have multiple people committing suicide. We have multiple people just going crazy mentally to where they couldn’t even function right to where they self mutilate themself. I myself have tried to commit suicide numerous times in prison, out of prison. I have been victimized to the streets of sexual abuse and sexual assault by the hand of correctional officers and police officers. When I was 17 years old, I was raped by a correctional officer at IDOC. And not only was I raped, I was punished for reporting the rape. I was locked in a suicide cell where all my clothes taken from me. I was called a whore. I was called a faggot. I was told I was a prostitute. I was told I was a dude and I wanted it.
You do not know how it feels to be victimized and be called all types of nasty names for being a Black trans woman, for speaking out against hatred, for speaking out against people who supposed to protect and serve the system. It means that Chicago police officers all over the world they job is to protect and serve us to make sure that we are safe and to make sure that we are protected. But instead, we are in fear of our life from the people that have these badges. The officers used they power to destroy, to divide, and to create some confusion. Sorry for my words, to to create anger and hatred and resentment among each other in the community, I want you all to know that this message I give to you is from the heart. And I am continuously fighting every day to make a better life for me, for you and everyone like us. I will not shut up. I will not be silenced. I will not be quiet no matter how many ass whoopings I take, not many how many years they give me in prison. I will not be afraid to speak out against cruelty to Black trans women or trans people at all. All lives matter. But at this moment, it’s about me and Black transgender women that’s really having the fight . I know it can be a bit of selfish so excuse me. But you know, it’s hard being a Black woman and trans, It’s hard to get a job. It’s hard to get a place to live. It’s hard to do anything. As Black women we are divined to prostitute, to steal, to do things to survive. Instead of walking into a business and signing up, we’re being told oh we can not be hired because our sexuality, we’re too flamboyant, we’re too overrated. And at this moment I embrace everything that they say about me. I am overrated. I am flamboyant. I am a woman of God. And I am loving to myself. And before anyone can love me, I have to love myself.
And I want to give a big thank you to my mom, Barbara Hampton. She’s my biggest supporter. She’s my biggest rock and she’s the biggest supporter of the LGBTQ community. But also, I want to give thank you to Peter that’s recording this. I want to give thank you to Kim, Cameron, Kelly, Rose. I want to give a shout out to Dan and Healy. I love both y’all both, Big Brother. Thank you all for supporting me. Thank you all for helping me with legal counsel. Thank you for helping me get out of jail. And most importantly, thank you all for loving me. I also want to give a shout out to a black transgender woman that her name is Alyssa. She’s currently in the prison jail in I think Pittsburgh, where she’s been raped and beaten by guards. Well the courts have taken her outdate and punishing her for speaking out. They continuously blocking her mail, blocking her voice. They are trying to quiet her. And a person that I love is my Adryan. Adryan is a person that she’s been in contact with, reached out to me and asked me, can I be a voice for Alyssa? I am that voice. Alyssa, I hear you. To all the Black trans women in the crowd, to all the people in the crowd that’s listening, I hear you. I listen to you. I see you. I am a reflection of you. We are a family. We are a community. We must fight this battle together. And let’s fight until the wheels fall off. Because you know Strawberry gonna tear it up! Hey! Thank you. I love you. Don’t forget to support me. Don’t forget to write the judge in the state’s attorney on my behalf. And also I have a patreon. If anybody want to donate to help me have a better life. I would be very thankful and very welcoming for any donations. I want to say I love you all. Thank you. And if it wasn’t for Peter giving me a voice right now, I want to be able to give the statement that I’m giving today. No more brutality, no more abuse, no more VSC, no more being scared of the police, no more being scared to speak up against the justice system, or for the corrupt things they do. I am a Black woman. I am a woman that deserves to be respected and acknowledged. I am a Black woman that needs to be seen just like every last one of you. You are human. You are love.
And one thing I want to leave with you all is with somebody gay bashes you, when somebody say evil things against you, is not that they hate you, it’s because they hate theyself. And you know what make a person look stupid? Is when you look them right in their face and you tell them, how can you hate me when you don’t even know me? And it’s gonna make them feel like shit. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t be afraid to fight back. If a person hits you, you knock the Kamasutra out they ass. Don’t you be afraid to stand up for your rights. The First Amendment saying we have a right to freedom to express. We have a freedom to our religion. And we have a freedom to love who we want to love. And if we’re not able to express who we are and if we’re not able to love who we are, that means our constitutional rights is being violated under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment. Learn your rights. Learn your protections. Education is a strong key in this world. And if we want to fight, we we’ve going to have to have smart people to stand up as well. Lawyers, doctors, governors, state representatives. We need it all to fight this battle.
Every day we’re attacked for being loving and caring to each other. And who’s to say that we can’t love who we love? Who is society to say that I can’t love a man because I was born a cis male? It doesn’t matter what the hell I was born. I love who I love. And I would not be afraid to show my love and affection in society to my partners. I will not be silent. I will not be afraid to walk down the street. And I will not be scared to speak my mind. And I hope that you can do the same. Sometimes you have to be a little bit aggressive to get respect and get your voice heard. Don’t be afraid. And if you are afraid, I will be that voice for you. Thank you so much. Happy pride. Have a great, blessed day.
Now let’s fight and make this thing happen. For better people, for the next generation. For the old generations, for the people that fought so hard to make life better. Let’s continue to fight this battle and march together and speak together, support each other, love each other, and most of all, help each other and bring awareness to the corruption of the justice system, the police system, and most of all, how politicians use their voices and use they power to gay bash and to discriminate against trans people in the LGBT community, period. I love you all. Kisses and hugs to my rainbows and butterflies. My prince and kings and my princesses. I love you all. Thank you, Peter.