The thing about living in this prison is… men. Its a man’s world in this prison. Men living amongst each other running things with hyper masculinity. My neighbors are men. My coworkers are men. The highest violence in male adult facilities is conducted by men (funny how that works, right?). Prison gangs are made up of men. The person most prone to destruction, both self and otherwise, is a man. The corrections officer who needs to see my private parts, to ensure that the security for the facility is met, is also a man. Men…

But occasionally there’s a woman. They are corrections officers, counselors, administrators and volunteers. But absolutely none of them are our peers. Don’t get me wrong… we trust them. They just all hold massive amounts of authority over us. We know this. Unfortunately, the men here see women as something to worry about or fear. They represent the gender holding power and this is not how the other sex should be viewed. I’m sure for many women connected to the corrections industry, it may be no big deal. They don’t see the power in what they hold, they are just doing the job. When I was a free person, I worked in a health care setting where I was the minority gender and proud of it. But here, on this side of things, its different. Women are above us and while its necessary, its not always healthy. Then in walks someone like my amazing roommate and those like her…

Trans women, in this man’s opinion, is a critical tool to social rehabilitation. Ruth is my roommate and we spend around 11 hours a day together locked in a 96 sq ft box. She’s more than just someone to commiserate with about prison life. She is my friend, my peer, my sounding board, my colleague and the person who helps reestablish social norms among the men around her. She represents the softer side of things and insists that vulnerability is OK. She works so diligently with the LGBTQ inmates that its viewed as maternal. She IS the fix to a sociological problem of gender interactions and check this out… she’s one of us. So, I find absolute value in trans women who get stuck here, as shitty as it is. It simply reminds me that men and women are equal. And that’s another point on the rehabilitation scoreboard…

by Rory Andes

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