Beyond These Walls was founded in 2011 as a project of the National LGBTQ Task Force. We started as a project to send cards to LGBTQ prisoners during the holidays. We decided to try to extend community to our LGBTQ family living behind bars. We did not expect the overwhelming response from prisoners. We received hundreds of letters of thanks and cries for help. As our project grew, our understanding of what prisoners need and were asking for also grew. Over the years we have evolved into a robust community of people offering a number of programs to support LGBTQ prisoners.
We are a Trans led organization with an exclusively LGBTQ staff and advisory committee. We believe in an LGBTQ community without conditions, where we welcome and embrace people trying to be a part of our community, even if they’ve made mistakes. We believe the criminal justice system is inherently flawed and should be completely torn down. We also believe that if people who are locked up are asking us for help right now, we have to answer their calls.
Check out our programs to find out more about what we do.
We work to connect prisoners with the resources they request, such as reentry referrals, housing, legal services, advocacy and more.
We work in collaboration with our community partners to advocate for various changes. This is often done at the institution level based on what prisoners are asking for.
Our leadership group inside of the Oregon State Penitentiary works to empower transgender women imprisoned at the facility. We are working to develop similar groups for other prisons.
Our pen pal program connects free world volunteers with LGBTQ prisoners as pen pals, the old fashioned way: letter writing. If you are interested in being a pen pal, sign up here:
Cassie facilitates the transgender leadership program for trans women inside of the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Trystan is the founder of Beyond These Walls. He advises the staff and assists with development and community partnerships.
Carlee oversees the operations of several programs. She handles development, strategic partnerships, and event planning.
Biff is responsible for most of the day-to-day operations of Beyond These Walls. They also handle administration, development and strategic planning.
Our advisory committee is comprised of 15 LGBTQ people currently living in prison and 1 person recently released from prison. The committee oversees and directs all of our work.