I Consider Myself Me and Free

An interview with Kris at VSPW
Question: How would you define your gender?
Answer: People consider me a man, but I consider myself me and free.
Q: How are you seen at VSPW?
A: I don’t fit ever. Most cops don’t like me. A lot of older women don’t like me, then some get to know me and then like me. It’s hard because my look might be like the incredible hulk, but on the inside, I’m more like a teddy bear.
Q: How do you experience your gender at VSPW?
A: It’s overwhelming. I get a lot of attention from girls here, especially with the way I look, people want to be around me. I think they like my company because it feels like being around their man. Also I get a lot of negative treatment from the cops. If I don’t fight back, they become more aggressive, trying to make me react. Even if I don’t react, they keep bugging me.
Q: Does how you look ever stop you from getting things you need or want?
A: Every single day. Sometimes I’ll ask a girlie-girl to get supplies for me.
Q: Do you get support from other people inside when you face discrimination?
A: Usually I feel supported. If I need something one of my girlier friends will help me out – from something as simple as needing a chemical to clean my room, to something as hard as asking for a room change. If I ask alone, it will never happen.
Q: How do the cops approach you?
A: The cops can never tell me to shave my face because I have a chrono for hormones that will never expire, so they can’t touch me. I think some officers are jealous because I have better facial hair than they do. I think my experience with cops is more intense than other “inmate aggressives” (a term cops use to describe more masculine people in women’s prisons) because I grow facial hair – a complete beard, nothing partial, the whole grandpa hook-up – so they trip out.
Q: Why do you think the cops treat you the way they do?
A: I think we’re treated like this because they’re intimidated by us. Because they think we look more like them, they want to treat us more aggressively. They’re intimidated by our gender difference and I think they’re afraid. I see it as a territorial battle.
Q: How do you know cops are intimidated by “inmate aggressives”?
A: On my fourth day here, I was 19 years old and I was trying to get a room change. They wouldn’t listen to me so I refused to lock-in. Twenty cops attacked me and I went to jail on a “battery”. I wasn’t trying to fight anyone, I was just trying to ask for something I had the right to ask for. They found me guilty, locked me up for 53 days, then they dropped the charges. Later, the sergeant came up to me and apologized, he stated he was scared about how I would react so he took it to the next level. He was scared about how I look! The cops just react on how you look. They don’t allow you to say anything, it’s not about your personality.
Q: Are you treated differently inside prison than you were outside, when it comes to how you look?
A: On the streets, people treated me more like a real person. Here people treat me like I’m beneath them. Here there is no in between because there’s always someone above you. Remember that!