Dani H. Harris

By Dani Harris

“Where did you make-up?” SGT. Holmes asked.

I played stupid. “Make-up? What Make-up? I don’t have any because I can’t buy it on commissary.”

SGT. Holmes did this thing with his finger where he points at about my neck, and then moves the finger point up and down and all around my face from three feet away before explaining, “well, what’s that on your face?”

“Oh that.” I gave a cheerful chirp and smiled, “It’s an artistic expression of my feminine nature. All I use are art supplies and hygiene items I buy from commissary. I’m transgender, on hormones, growing breasts. There are no rules on drawing on my faces as far as I know.”

Sgt. Holmes was confounded and decided he should go check the rule book. He’s actually a nice guy, but like so many guards he’s having trouble accepting that prison has changed.

In any given week, I get yelled at and threatened by a couple of officers as I walk to meals. I try hard not to feed into the negative energy or to let their animosity bother me. The best response I’ve found is to agree and promise, “not to do it anymore.” While knowing in my heart I’m not going to do it any less.

Since I sleep in my make-up I can’t do it more. It’s a psychosis. Since I started living as a woman in a man’s prison I’d rather wake up to a reflection of smeared make-up than to see a man with boobs in my mirror. It’s all about artifice and illusion. I never even realized the feminine mystique was an art until I began to practice it.

Most of my trans-sisters are intimidated. If they use make-up it’s a narrow line drawn just above their top eye lashes that looks ridiculous. Though I’ve never worn make-up in the world and never expressed my female side that way in prison, a couple of years ago I’ve become an expert. I have a formula for mascara that stays on and I can make any color I want. Black, dark blue, purple, and violet are my favorites, but I have a tiger stripe orange.
There are dozens of tricks to make my eye shadow blend. Mostly it’s about taking the time to blend the colors and use neutral bases. It’s not so much hard as time it is time consuming. The problem comes in when Sergeants and Lieutenants see me they suspect I have free world cosmetics. I don’t. What I have is cheaper anyway.

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Here’s the catch. Female prisoners in Texas are allowed to buy all sorts of stuff that male prisoners can’t. they have seven different items of make-up, blow-dryers, curling irons, rollers, tweezers, etc., under gender specific guidelines.

Admittedly, things are changing. My hair is much longer than it’s ever been allowed before and yet still I am not allowed to grow it as long as I would like. Genetic women have always been allowed to have hair as long as they wish. They can also buy stud earrings. Men can’t, not even if they have pierced ears.

Prison officials have always claimed that long hair is a threat to security for male prisoners. I could never see the difference. Such gender specific rules are in direct violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Though they are slowly changing I wish they would hurry.

Until we can all buy the same items from commissary, Transgenders will have to continue to make do with what’s available. The main ingredient in my make-up seems to be spit. I have to warm the colored pencils in my mouth so the colors will bleed and blend evenly. Spit softens the pigment. I find myself wetting cotton swabs in my mouth to use as make-up remover when I need to clean up a smear or blend and feather edges of some colors.

No doubt much of what we all do is dangerous. We jeopardize our health and eye-sight constantly. Our skin becomes stained beyond all redemption. There is no telling what the long-term health consequences might be.

In the end, as it’s been all through history, it’s all made worthwhile when I walk down the hall and every eye follows me to my destination dripping with lust. No girl has ever needed more than that to reward her effort and put an extra wiggle in her hips. In this, as in so much else, Transwomen are no different than women born to procreate, just different genital.


Daniel Harris is serving 35 years in Texas for Attempted Capital Murder.


We send your comments to our writers but if you’d prefer to write Daniel directly, please write to:

Daniel H. Harris #00622851

MICHAEL Unit

2664 FM 2054

Tennessee Colony, TX 75886