Aug. 4, 2011

Blog/August 2011

by Darrel (Terra) O'Key (author's profile)


Blog/August 2011

What does it meant to be trans and in prison? Who knows.

There is nothing special about being trans in prison. Sure, it is more difficult. You are the butt of every joke, you are constantly sexually harassed, the guards constantly target you, there are prisons that inmates will kill you for just being trans. It is hard being in a place where you cannot present the way you need to in order to feel good about yourself: makeup, bras, if you have breasts, etc.

But being a prison environment is no more difficult than living on the streets prostituting your body or using drugs. People on the streets are just as insensitive. They are just as judgmental. The only difference is you get to choose who you are around.

I could go on a rant and cry and try and get everyone to see the injustice of my being trans in prison, but the simple fact is that the majority of trans in prison who have issues have sadly brought those issues upon themselves. Not all but most. You will find most trans in prison are promiscuous, full of drama, expect preferential treatment, just because they are trans and have no interest in bettering themselves or have no idea how to. That is where trans groups and support for the trans people should be focused. Most of us are too busy judging each other to even think about supporting one another. It seems as if we are more concerned with the next penis than where we will live when we get out or how we will make a legal living.

As trans in prison, it is hard to focus on anything other than ourselves as we get so much attention, be it positive or negative! They have many self-help groups here. One for lifers, one for vets, one for AA, one for NA, anger management, etc. Nothing for trans, nothing for LEGBT inmates? Why? One day, the Department of Corrections will catch up to the times.

Until then, we have to look out for each other. We have to encourage instead of discourage, love instead of hate, give instead of take. Most of us have to be taught that there are other ways to live than what brought us here in the first place. It is a vicious cycle and it has to be broken. Sometimes all it takes is leading that horse to water. :) Not that any of us are horses. :) There are many transitional living opportunities that can be found for the in-prison trans. If they can be convinced to take advantage of them.

By the way, if you are reading this and know of any such places in California, please write to me (address on profile page) so I may continue to compile a list for the trans population. Or any other material you may feel could be of use. My goal is to make sure that the trans inmate is made aware that these places exist and that they need to have a place in society.

My best to all of those reading this. And if you know any trans in prison, please write them and approach the "what are you going to do now" conversation. :) There is life after prison for the trans community, but it takes hard work and perseverance. If I repeat myself, I apologize. I sometimes forget what I have written previously.

The pictures are of a recent visit with Chela. Hope you like them.


What is worse when left unexplained, a life or a death?

[colored photo of Terra smiling. She is doing a cheerful and provocative over the shoulder smile.]
[colored photo of Chela and Terra standing together. Terra has cupped her hands gently on Chela's shoulder while Chela poses with one hand on her hip. Both are looking at the camera and smiling.]


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