KMBT_C454e-20160312023342by Jorge Cornell

At first I was a little skeptical about transgender people using the opposite-sex bathrooms. I didn’t really get a true grasp of it until I started to really think about it. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the right thing to do was to take a stand.

The stand I want to take is that transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they identify with. I came to this conclusion on hearing the views of friends of mine that are LGBT. But then I heard stories from people who don’t want it to happen. They see things like a man dressed as a woman and see them as targets for rape in these bathrooms. As I’m taking all this in, the only thing I can think about is that three people who I consider among my best friends identify themselves as LGBT. Not only do I see them as my friends, but as my comrades. It disturbs me that I’m in prison and can’t be on the front lines with my comrades who have so many times been on the front lines with me dealing with my issues.

So I say to myself: What’s my greatest fear?

If we allow Gov. Pat McCrory to get a victory, if they could stop human beings identifying themselves as the opposite sex from using the bathrooms they are supposed to be using, who’s to stop him from making “coloreds only” bathrooms again and putting us at the back of the bus?

But the greatest triumph would be that the state law is struck down and the Charlotte ordinance allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choosing is restored, showing we’re all moving in the right direction.

I say this to my three friends Saralee, May and Katie: Although I’m not on the physical front line with y’all in this struggle, please know my words echo through the community. We will stay on the front line and we will fight. We’ll give it everything that we’ve got. Because it is in the hands of the LGBT front line of this civil rights battle. And at the end of the day, we will triumph!

Jorge Cornell is the former leader of the North Carolina Almighty Latin King & Queen Nation who previously lived in Greensboro. He is currently serving a 28-year sentence in FCI Petersburg, a medium-security prison in Virginia.