Hear Me! My Name is Catherine!
Legally a Woman, Jailed Among Men

On The Record with Catherine Carlson

Catherine Carlson in Payette Country JailA small and fragile transgender woman sits behind bars in solitary in a men’s section of an Idaho county jail for crimes sparked by years of mental and emotional torture brought on my a malicious parent, cruel state actions, and a savage legal system that refuses to recognize the most personal part of an individual’s identity, gender.

Meet Catherine Carlson, a 56-year-old, on her way to prison after years of what she describes as being terrorized by her family, the State of Idaho and the police.

Read her story and listen to Catherine’s emotional courtroom testimony and exclusive jailhouse interviews of why she says she finally came to the end of her rope and snapped.

On July 11, 2010 she set fire to her home and truck and was later arrested walking down the highway naked.

Convicted of first-degree arson, possession of a hoax destructive devise and indecent exposure, Catherine is facing up to 40 years in prison.

In this compelling and heart-wrenching story about one woman’s quest for simple respect and human dignity, Catherine talks exclusively to investigative journalist, Jody May-Chang from the Payette Country Jail as she awaits sentencing.

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Earlier Reporting On This Story:

Carlson Talks After Guilt Verdict

Boise Weekly City Desk Jody May-Chang

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. Continue reading

Catherine Carlson Found Guilty On All Charges

It took the jury of five women and seven men one hour to come to a verdict, finding 56 year-old Catherine Carlson guilty of first degree arson, possessing a hoax destructive device and indecent exposure.

After the verdict Carlson’s attorney Phillip Heersink said that although he “was not overly surprised” he was still “disappointed” by the decision.

Against Heersink’s advice, Carlson took the stand as the only witness for the defense. Extremely thin and gaunt, the weathered looking Carlson began her testimony restrained and respectful. She responded to her attorney’s questions regarding the events leading up to her July 11, 2010 arrest.

During cross-examination Payette Country prosecutor Anne Marie Kelso’s, line of questioning agitated Carlson. It got particularly emotional during the following exchange between Carlson and Kelso. Continue reading