First, some definitions:

A “property matrix” is a document recording all of an inmates allowable ‘in-cell’ personal items. If it’s not on that matrix, it’s contraband to some degree.

A “punk” is someone forced into prostitution. Keyword, forced. They don’t have to be gay or bi or trans. They can be straight and simply overpowered, like I said, forced. Even if it’s by “choice”, the term punk is used to denote that an individual is no longer an individual but an item that is owned by someone or a gang of someone’s.

As a transgendered person in prison the thing that annoys and/or endangers me the most is my objectification. To most I run into here in prison I am first a sex object. The belief is that because I present as female in a men’s prison I am looking for attention, or to be *objectified*. I am reminded often that “if this was 15-20 years ago you’d (sic) be a punk, not some prison tranny fag”.

I know, how sweet right? Sure know how to woo a girl, *them crazy boys and their locker room manners*.

One such recent conversation was had by two men (I’d like to say man children, but you get the idea) in a situation in which I could not leave- that happens in prison, sometimes you *can’t* walk away from a situation. These two knuckleheads began talking about how

Man child 1: “remember that one time when we double penet****d that punk!?!”

Man child 2: “Yeah, we had that f****n’ punk mewling, we kept trying to get both of us inside at once and are sh*t kept popping the other one out!” growing more excited.

Man child 1( now unconsciously tugging on his crotch looking at me giggling): “Yeah, there was a time not to long ago when you would’ve been on my f****n’ property matrix and you wouldn’t be called trans, you’d be my punk” he breaks the sentence to back hand his buddies upper chest giggling “Even the f****n Sargent’s and cops would pull us up asking ‘who’s punk is that, so and so, is that punk yours?'”

Man child 2 (now noticing I’m not finding this as funny as they do): “I mean, I didn’t enjoy that, I was more afraid I’d get beat up by that big bastard, it was better to just f**k a punk back then”

Man child 1 (now turning his focus to me): “What do you think about that?”

I’ll stop there. The day I heard that exchange I was furious. I didn’t let it show though because I have learned that if they know it bothers me they will do it more but if I say nothing, be absolutely emotionless, they lose interest. I didn’t respond to them, I remained stoic and turned to a friend and continued my conversation.

What angers me in these situations is not the talk, it’s the mentality. It’s the total objectification of me, the internal belief that I am for the purposes of sexual gratification and that *in their minds* I want that and *that’s* why I’m transgendered. In their minds I am not intelligent or an emotional being, I am annoyingly vocal and should be more gracious about the role I’ve *chosen *.

Now, if we take the extreme language and environment out of this particular situation this applies universally to folx like me, especially transgender women in and out of prison. And what’s sadder, to me, is that in prison even many staff lead with this mental sentiment about me. It is assumed first that I am wanting to be objectified and subjected to situations such as this, else I “would have waited to come out until I was out of this place”. Yes, I’ve been told those words explicitly.

My parole officer or probation officer will assume that I am like that. They will enforce restrictions on me that will reflect that internal, mistaken, assumption that I am sexually motivated, wanting to be objectified. They will assume any success I have is either a lie or given to me by someone who is having sex with me. That my friends are really sexually motivated.

I haven’t even met my new cco, but my best friend did (and my hopeful potential partner, our relationship must be approved by this cco) to ask about college- which is legislated as something that cannot be denied me- and his answer was a blanket “no”, he wants me to be in therapy first. Other people in my situation do not have to deal with that, I promise you, because I know them.

My life would be *easier* if I was straight and cisgendered. Yes. But I’m not. What would be easier is if people would empathize with other humans as human beings. Because I am a very HumanMe.

They can wag their tongues at me all they want and tell me what I’m thinking based on their own limiting beliefs. But I am not subject to their minds, their beliefs, their expectations and failures. I am only accepting of my own. So I will succeed anyway. I have not just survived the barrage of hate, anger, aggression, objectification, self-doubt, and limitations of myself and others but I have thrived. There is coming a day when even the shackles of disbelief will not be able to hold me down. There is coming a day, the time is now, when I will be freer, and happier, and more successful than anyone who tried to limit me with their power.

With Love
Ruth Utnage