from the beginning
Kyle (Ky) Peterson grew up in a small South Georgia farming town. His down to earth nature comes from the love of his Grandma Molly and the support of his Mom. Ky loves to stay busy. Even as a child, Ky worked hard to help his family and in his free time, he volunteered at a local assisted living home, and the American Red Cross.
When Ky turned 17, hard times hit the family, and he was forced to drop out of school, getting a job to help support his 3 younger siblings. His life was forever changed in 2011 when he fell victim to, not only a violent attacker but also the “American Justice System”.
Ky Peterson is the literal personification of nearly every civil rights injustice we have seen in the media in recent years; transgender rights, police brutality, rape culture, criminalizing victims, courtroom misogyny, systematic racism. Ky’s case draws into sharp relief the ways that racial and gender discrimination make acute the routine lapses in due process, medical negligence, and dehumanization that characterize the U.S criminal justice system and the Prison Industrial Complex.
Justice does not exist in the Law
To Book Ky:
The Law does not play Fair
Ky Peterson is a trans Advocate who served 9 years in prison for self-defense. During his incarceration, he fought for trans prisoner’s rights to medical care. Ky is vibrant, intelligent, and uncommonly kind with a genuinely loving nature, and a passion for promoting Human Rights and Transgender Equality.
His story is entrenched in institutionalized discrimination, systemic failures, and the denial of basic human rights. Ky’s experiences with the criminal justice system epitomize the complex intersection of contemporary race and gender politics within the prison industrial complex.
In 2017, Ky co-founded Freedom Overground with his partner, Pinky Shear. Today, Ky shares his story of courage and perseverance with TGNC communities across the country. Ky is available to speak on any of the topics listed below:
During the 6 years that we advocated for Ky, we have managed to make huge steps in progressing the treatment of Gender Non-Conforming inmates in Georgia.
- Ky is the 1st trans man, in Georgia to request AND RECEIVE gender therapy and HRT; paving the way for others to pursue the care they desperately need.
- Ky is the 1st to receive approval for gender-affirming clothing, such as binders and boxer shorts.
- Our efforts to share Ky’s story have led to multiple investigations by the Department of Justice, into the inhumane treatment of LGBTQI+ inmates in Georgia facilities. This resulted in the firing of Pulaski’s Chief medical officer, Yvon Nazaire, who was linked to the deaths of more than 15 women.
- The investigative series about Ky’s incarceration by The Advocate, received 2 nominations in the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Digital Journalism.
- The same investigative series by The Advocate also won a 2016 Planned Parenthood Maggie Media Award for Excellence in Online Reporting.
The Free Ky Project
In the News
Beginning in 2014, The Advocate launched an investigation into the arrest, trial, and incarceration of Ky Peterson, a black transgender man from rural Georgia who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing his rapist in 2011. The series, the first of its kind to document the systemic abuse and silencing faced by a low-income black trans man in the South, uncovered a key discrepancy in Peterson’s sentencing, and continues to monitor Peterson’s well-being, including his suicide attempt and ultimate access to gender-affirming treatment while incarcerated. In 2015, the series earned an Excellence in Online Media Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, won second place for Excellence in Transgender Coverage from NLGJA, and was shortlisted for a GLAAD Media Award.