Study Group

“To fulfill her task of building organizations and a broader movement, the conscious organizer must be guided in her work by her answers to basic questions: What’s the nature of the system? What are the current conditions within this system? And who are the forces that have the interest and the capability to make change?”      – Towards Land, Work, & Power

The aim of this our study groups are to support our members in gaining/deepening  critical and intersectional understandings of the prison industrial complex and prison abolition frameworks as they relate to queer/trans bodies and identities.

We had the first round of this study group in November 2013 with folks who responded to promotion of the group through email, word of mouth and social media. We then met about once every 4-6 weeks on a weekend afternoon in rotating locations. We alternated leadership each month in order to collectively create a structure of readings, films, lectures, etc that we wanted to use for our discussions. The second round started in November 2014, and was also composed only of free world members, though the readings were chosen by FOW leadership, and meetings were facilitated by us as well. We are now in the third round of our “Queer/Trans Prison Abolition Study Group.” This session will be quite different from the past two because instead of having only free world folks involved, 11 incarcerated folks will be discussing the readings with us through penpal letters.

To increase access and transparency, we also publish our readings here so that folks who cannot directly participate can still follow along. Some of the readings are public, some we have scanned or gotten from private sources. If you want to read something that doesn’t have a link, email us and we can likely send it to you.


Round #3 – 2015/2016 Study Group Monthly Themes & Readings 

We are in the midst of the 3rd round of our Queer/Trans Prison Abolition Bay Area Study Group.

January 2016/Alternatives and Abolition

1. Still Choosing to Leap: Building Alternatives (by Mia Mingus, Remarks from the closing plenary, “Revolutionary Organizing Across Time and Space,” at the INCITE! Color of Violence 4 Conference, March 26-29, 2015, Chicago, Illinois.)
2. ReWriting the Future (by Walidah Imarisha)
3. A New Direction (pp 101-108 in Race to Incarcerate)

November 2015/Solitary/Isolation/Queer & Trans Survival

1. Excerpt from Locked Up & Out (pp 1, 3, 18-26)
2. Summary of Ashker v. Governor of California Settlement Terms
3. Queering Anti-prison work: African American Lesbians in the Juvenile Justice System (by Beth Richie, pp 73-84 in Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison-Industrial Complex)

September 2015/History & Background

1. Some Historical Background (pp 159-170 from Resistance Behind Bars by Victoria Law)
2. Background Discrimination, Poverty, & Prisons (pp 7-13 from “It’s war in here” A Report on the Treatment of Transgender and Intersex People in New York State Men’s Prisons by SRLP)
3. INCITE! Critical Resistance Statement


Round #2 – 2014/2015 Study Group Monthly Themes & Readings

May 2015/We combined two sections into one meeting: Moving forward pt 1 – Strategic Challenges aka our transformative demands and Moving forward pt 2 – Where can we build Tactical Campaigns

1. The Tenets of Transformative Organizing
2. “Transformative Justice Strategies for Addressing Police/Vigilante/Hate/White Supremacist Violence” by Andrea Smith
3. pages 17-22 of Demand Everything by Steve Williamsqueer injustice
4. Changing the Story: Story-Based Strategies for Direct Action Design by Doyle Canning and Patrick Reinsborough
5. pages 151-158 from Over the Rainbow, in Queer (In)justice
6. Breaking Down Walls: Anti-Prison Organizing and Movement Building” (through to “War at Home”) sections, from world behind bars: the expansion of the amerikan prison cellby Peter Gelderloos and Patrick Lincoln
Optional: Formerly Incarcerated People Lead Movement to Confront Oppressive ”Justice” System by Chris Moore-Backman
Optional: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living with HIV, pages 10-25
Optional: Each member brings forward work they are connected to and building a future with

March 2015/Dilemmas & Contradictions

1. Queer Necropolitics and the Expanding Carceral State: Interrogating Sexual Investments in Punishment by S Lamble
2. “Q and A with Jasbir Puar” in darkmatter: in the ruins of imperial culture
Optional: Critiques of Hate Crime Legislation – Black & Pink Boston

January 2015/Identifying the Conditions pt 2

1. California’s correctional facilities
3. Lesbians and the Death Penalty: Comments from “Race, Class, Gender and the PIC” by Joey L. Mogul
4. Queering Prison Abolition, Now?
5. “Charlie Morningstar” Chapter from Inside This Place, Not Of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons
Optional: Walking while transgender: necropolitical regulations of trans feminine bodies of colour in the US Nation’s capital.
(necropolitics – The relationship between sovereignty and power over life and death. More here.)
Optional: California’s Prop 47 passed. Now what?
Optional: ear to the ground by N’Tanya Lee & Steve Williams

November 2014/Identifying the Conditions pt 1

1. The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America – Naomi Murakawa, Associate Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.41BzUmCUxGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
(There’s a new interview with Naomi Murakawa that connects her writing to current movements such as #BlackLivesMatter.)
2. What is life like in prison? The unsimple answer. (Part 1), (part2), (part 3), (part 4)  by Jessica Brooks
3. “Black Women, Male Violence & The Buildup of a Prison Nation” from Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation by Beth E. Ritchie
Optional: The Prison-Industrial Complex and the Global Economy: Linda Evans & Eve Goldberg

September 2014/Envisioning Abolition

1. “Not that Simple” from Upper Bunkies Unite, and Other Thoughts on the Politics of Mass Incarceration by Andrea C. James
2. A Values- and Vision-Based Political Dream by Benjamin Mordecai Ben-Baruch
3. Political Prisoners and Your Vision by Laura Whitehorn
4. Walk With Vision by Steve Williams
Optional:  Building an Abolitionist Trans Queer Movement With Everything We’ve Got by Morgan Bassichis, Alexander Lee, and Dean Spade


Round #1 – 2013/2014 Study Group Monthly Themes & Readings

May 2014/Religion, Queerness & Criminalization

1. A Theology For the Penal Abolition Movement by Jason Lydon
2. Set The Prisoners Free: The Christian Right & The Prison Industrial Complex from Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances by Andrea Smith
3. All the World Needs a Jolt: Social Movements and Political Crisis in Medieval Europe from Caliban & the Witch by Silvia Federici

April 2014/Queering Immigration

1. Immigrant Justice from a Trans Perspective: an interview with Gael Guevara – fromBeyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis
2. Arguing Against Exceptionalism, by Jasbir Puar
3. Thinking and Moving Beyond Walls and Cages, by Jenna Loyd, Andrew Burridge, and Matthew Michaelson
4. Queering Immigration: Perspectives on Cross-Movement Organizing, by Debanuj DasGupta
5. Queering Immigration by Anil Vora
6. And a great campaign happening at the intersection of queerness and immigration: Coming Out Of Exile: SONG + the Not1More Campaign

March 2014/Queer Criminality & Gendered Captivity
1. Women in Prison: How It Is With Us by Assata Shakur
2. Caging Deviance: Prisons as Queer Spaces
3. Gleeful Gay Killers, Lethal Lesbians, and Deceptive Gender Benders: Queer Criminal Archetypes (from Queer (In)justice)
4. Film: The Aggressives – focus on Octavia’s experiences

captive gendersJanuary 2014/Queer Youth Criminalization & the School-to-Prison Pipeline
1. LGBTQ Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
2. The Unfair Criminalization of Gay and Transgender Youth
3. Revolving Doors: LGBTQ Youth at the Interface of the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems
4. Deconstructing the Pipeline: Evaluating School-to-Prison Pipeline Equal Protection Cases through a Structural Racism Framework
5. Keeping Kids in Schools: Restorative Justice, Punitive Discipline and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

December 2013/Abolition dreams

1. Building an Abolitionist Trans & Queer Movement with Everything We’ve Got – Morgan Bassichis, Alexander Lee, and Dean Spade (from Captive Genders)
2. Maroon Abolitionists: Black Gender-Oppressed Activists in the Anti-Prison Movement in the US and Canada – Julia Sudbiry aka Julia C. Oparah (from Captive Genders)
3. Abolitionist Imaginings: A conversation with Bo Borwn, Greina Gossett, and Dylan Rodriguez – Che Gossett (from Captive Genders)

November 2013

A short article by Rachel Herzing of Critical Resistance entitled, What is the Prison Industrial Complex to kick off our first conversation and help inform our discussion about what readings / themes everyone would like to cover for the rest of the sessions.


Some Potential Future Readings

Prisons & Policing

  1. The Law Is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons, Colin Dayan
  2. Against Equality: Prisons Will Not Protect You, ed Ryan Conrad
  3. Global Lockdown: Race, Gender, and the Prison-Industrial Complex, Julia Sudbury
  4. Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity, Loïc Wacquant
  5. Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy, ed Joy James
  6. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, Ruth Wilson Gilmore
  7. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, Samuel R. Delany
  8. The Real Cost of Prisons Comix
  9. The Prison-Industrial Complex & the Global Economy


  1. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times

Women & LGBTQ

  1. We Deserve Better: A Report on Policing in New Orleans By and For Queer and Trans Youth of Color
  2. Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, Beth E. Richie
  3. Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment, Jill A. McCorkel
  4. Offending Women: Power, Punishment, and the Regulation of Desire, Lynne Haney
  5. A World Apart: Women, Prison, and Life Behind Bars, Cristina Rathbone
  6. Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women by Victoria Law
  7. Women, Prisons & Change by BCRW
  8. Flow Charts from SRLP: Disproportionate Deportation, Disproportionate Incarceration, Disproportionate Poverty & Homelessness

Race & Law

  1. Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys, Victor M. Rios
  2. The Contract and Domination, Carole Pateman & Charles Mills
  3. Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor, Patricia J. Williams
  4. Aberrations In Black: Toward A Queer Of Color Critique, Roderick Ferguson


  1. Inside This Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons, ed Ayelet Waldman, ed Robin Levi
  2. The New Abolitionists: (Neo)slave Narratives And Contemporary Prison Writings, ed by Joy James

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