By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Apr. 18, 2011
After being found guilty of first degree arson, possessing a hoax destructive device and indecent exposure on April 14, Citydesk talked to Catherine Carlson about her conviction.
“Well I expected it, and I didn’t expect it, and it blew my mind … I [am going] to prison because I couldn’t transfer that title of that trailer into my name because I refuse to register as transgender,” said Carlson.
The 56-year-old Payette woman has a long history of physical and psychological abuse, and has had numerous encounters with the courts and law enforcement over the years.
July 11, 2010, Carlson torched the trailer where she lived, placed four fake pipe bombs on her doorstep and put a note on her front door that read, “No one inside, booby trapped, it’s not worth your life, keep out.” She then headed to a storage facility where she set her truck on fire. Carlson was arrested shortly afterward, while walking naked down Highway 95 in Payette.
While in custody, Carlson spent several months in various mental-health facilities for court-ordered psychological evaluations and medication therapy to ready her for trial. However, since leaving the hospital last December, Carlson has not been medicated.
Carlson legally changed her name before having sexual reassignment surgery in 1980. Years later, she moved to Weiser, where her mother, in an unrelated civil suit, filed court documents in 2000 listing Carlson’s former male name.
“There is no legitimate reason that Idaho should have this information,” said Carlson, referring to her previous name and gender. “I was not born in Idaho. I didn’t have the change in Idaho. I didn’t change my name in Idaho.
“What makes me feel so unsafe is when this information is floating around. In the back of my mind, I wonder who knows, who’s a bigot and who’s not. That’s the scary part, not knowing who is actually interested in doing God a favor.”
Carlson said “doing God a favor” referred to people who assault her because they have been taught people like her “are an abomination to God and don’t deserve to be alive … You don’t know when someone is going to come up from behind and cold cock ya.”
Sentencing is set for Friday, June 17. Carlson faces up to 35-40 years in prison and a $120,000 fine.
Although advocates are troubled that Idaho Department of Corrections routinely places transgender inmates in solitary confinement, Carlson said she would actually prefer that.
“If I can’t have a life, I am probably where I should be because at least I am safe.”
Asked what she plans to do with her life and time now, Carlson replied: “I want to rub it in their faces. Now instead of $1,000 a month to support my ass out on the street, now [they are] paying twice that in prison, suckers.”