I’ve been talking to my friends and penpals for advice on what I should write for this and everyone keeps telling me to tell my story. And I can’t help thinking “what version?”
I am the only out transwoman currently at WSR. There was one here about 10 months ago, but she got sent out on a PREA investigation. So anyone that has any questions about transgender issues comes to me and I end up playing the queer ambassador to cis prisoners. Then there is the outright lies that both DoC employees and the other people here just assume are true. I am constantly having to tell them no, I am not just trying to sleep with all the boys. No, I am not trying to sneak into the women’s prison. No I am not a boy that thinks I’m a girl. No, it is not okay to call me “sir” because you’re ex-military and Sir is a term of respect for both men and women in the military. No! I am not military. I am a lesbian (well, 90%). I am not interested in hooking up with anyone in prison and all things considered, I’m barely this side of graysexual. So absolutely not to any of that.
I. Am. A. Girl!
These are the narratives that I am constantly fighting and I do that by telling my story. Simplified, censored, whitewashed for respectability purposes, but my story none the less. It has gotten to the point that every half truth hurts almost as much as being in the closet did, yet being absolutely 100% unflinchingly honest is scary. If I leave things complicated, if I don’t skip over the inherently contradictory details, if I don’t let the bits that are unresolved for me remain unresolved in narrative, will people accept it as true? Or will they pick at the complicated? Demand closure that I am yet to reach? Reject that there are many things I never expect to have closure with? Will their confusion cause them to accuse me of being confused? Can the beautiful complicated messiness that is me withstand the twin tyrannies of linear narrative and patriarchal presumption? In my experience, no.
Speaking my truth becomes bound by the limitation of the understanding of my audience.
Being perfectly honest has become far more terrifying than walking around naked. If I disrobe I bear only my body, but if I disclose I bear my soul.
I will do my best to tell my story. Life is messy. Please, let me remain unresolved.