Yesterday, SLAP Center was honored to speak on It Could Be You, with host John S., about our recently released reentry guide for registrants – Registering with Dignity (RWD). During the hour-long interview, we stressed that registration and incarceration isn’t a period. It doesn’t have to be a full stop and the end of your life. Use RWD as your semi colon; get your new clause on life. Understandably, life will be more difficult, and sometimes feel impossible, but your life is still waiting for you. Whether or not you find the strength to take control of it is up to you.
We spoke with John about how RWD was designed to help registered people, their families, and their allies find their dignity, a sense of pride in oneself – their self-respect. In spite of the State’s ardent measures to strip us of our dignity, we have to make a choice to find dignity within ourselves. It’s about being proud of who you are regardless of the state-imposed label, and it starts by knowing the registration and notification process.
RWD does this by explaining how registries started and evolved, outlines the registration process, and provides tips and tricks for registering from a lived experience. It’s a how-to for overcoming the unique challenges after your release from incarceration – finding community, stable housing, and steady employment; and furthering your education. It is emotionally and physically exhausting to deal with all those challenges, so it also provides guidance on being supported. More importantly, RWD provides helpful information for people who support and love those who are registered. They have a tough time with registration too, and it’s important we acknowledge their struggles.
We weren’t able to discuss this yesterday, but we also included a section on sexuality in RWD. This section is really at the heart of SLAP Center’s mission. While SLAP Center works to aid registrants in general, we are particularly invested in advocating for queer and trans registrants because they are disproportionately impacted by registration. We live in a society that has advanced queer and trans equality, but, in so many ways, we’re still failing our queer and trans community. How we express our sexual and gender identity is criminalized in unique ways and knowing how to assert your gender and sexual identity can be challenging. It was critical for us to acknowledge these challenges in RWD, because it is a reality for so many registered queer and transfolk.
At the end of the day, RWD is about community, meeting people where they're at, and holding our complicated selves. This guide is by us, for us, and about us. It is about being supportive and acknowledging your struggles. SLAP Center firmly believes that once we begin to see our self-worth, we can better assemble and build our capacity to take down the registry. It all starts with understanding the registry and its mechanisms for control. Have the conviction to know your rights.
This program is courtesy of It Could Be You, and KABF 88.3 FM Community Radio, “The Voice of the People,” Little Rock, Arkansas. www.kabf.org