We all are human. Cops and inmates alike. The authorities know we have needs. There are crazy rules, like no drinking and smoking. There are even rules for prison sex. Then there are even crazier, pettier rules, like no swapping goods, no handmade items, or no more property than can fit in a six cubit box. All of these prohibited acts are incredibly normal parts of life for people in non-incarcerated Free America, with some (like sexual contact) even considered basic needs by psychologists.

Do you really think a human can live like that? A woman, at that? There is no way.

What you don’t do, however, is say that aloud. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a known military policy in Free America, and in today’s Incarcerated America, it is still the law. The Prison Rape Elimination Act made it clear: “No means no and yes is not allowed.”

Speak, and the police who let you do it are liable. Play dumb, and you’ll get far.

When the nurse sees your black eye, say you fell off the bed. When she sees the bruises on your arm, say you hit the toilet on the way down. When she sees the abrasion on your opposite leg, say the final impact was hard. You could have had a seizure in your sleep. There is no way she will believe it, but when no one sees a tree fall in the woods…

I have had to learn the dance of maintaining anonymity and deniability while meeting my needs. I am a bisexual, non-binary person in a female body. I love women. Now, I am in a box of women who suddenly have no men as a viable option and may or may not be “ready to go” at any given time. What am I supposed to do?

Every girlfriend I live with is a “bunky,” every injury a “fall,” every tattoo “old and from another institution,” even if the same inquirer saw me without it a week or so before.

Now, however, we have a growing movement for the transgenders. Some look at the LGBT movement in prison as inspiring. I see it as a stumbling block. Homophobia has gone from a hate crime, to a state of omission, to now a constant thread of condescending comments and fake “politically correct” tolerance.

The transgender people want boxers, they want testosterone, they want shaved heads and no write ups.  You know what they didn’t want? The spike in false rape accusations and solitary terms behind spiteful officers being forced to admit that they indeed are seeing a broken law. Transgender folks wanted rights, but they didn’t want to be kicked out of room after room until they agreed to give sexual favors, perhaps in a relationship agreement, to their cellmate. No straight woman wants to live with a transgendering male with testosterone-induced hormone fits.

As a Queer and non-binary person, I have had to defend myself more than ever since the transgender movement gained momentum. If I act feminine, my biological sex, people call me a “f@g” or worse. If I act masculine, people assume I am a trans man. People openly ask about my natural body hair or assume I’ll be getting in the testosterone shot line on Thursdays. I get called “he” all the time. I am assumed to be getting respect, when in fact I find it insulting.

I got invited to a trans meeting. I asked, “Can you put a third box besides male or female, maybe saying nonbinary or other?” The woman in charge somehow managed to talk for five minutes straight in reply and avoid the question altogether.

I miss the days when I could just be me without a label attached.