I'm an imprisoned trans woman in Georgia, but I try to make the best of it.
In the morning, I work as a law clerk and help other prisoners with their cases.
At night, I cook dinner with my friends, and we daydream about life outside prison.
Since I'm an imprisoned trans woman in Georgia, my life certainly isn't rosy, but I strive to make each day count. Between cooking meals with my buds, earning my degree in theological and historical studies, and working as a law clerk in the prison, I try to stay focused.
Despite the difficult circumstances of my incarceration, I've found ways to stay grounded behind bars and make a small difference in the lives of others.
Here's what a typical day in my life is like.
On a random Monday in April, my day started early - about 4:45 a.m.
I woke up in my cell, which has a bed and a desk. I downed a bottle of water and then took a few minutes to meditate on the floor of my cell. I have degenerative disk disease and neural foraminal stenosis, so I did my morning stretches.
After that, I made use of the early-morning quiet in the restroom. I took a hot shower and then completed my hair and skincare routine.
I'm typically done with my morning ablutions and ready for the rest of my day by 7 a.m.
After my morning routine, I headed to my job in the law library
I left the dorm by 7:15 a.m. to work as a law clerk in the facility's law library, assisting other prisoners with their civil- and criminal-case challenges. It's a fulfilling job that allows me to use my legal knowledge to help others.
I worked an eight-hour shift in the law library from about 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. During that time, my responsibilities included helping other prisoners understand portions of the law, drafting pleadings for their cases, and providing guidance on procedure. My other responsibilities are mostly clerical and consist of tasks such as dispensing supplies and doing inventory.
During work, I had a quick breakfast and headed to the in-prison church
Throughout the past year, I've been using intermittent fasting to slim down a little. I had my breakfast about 8 or 9 a.m., which consisted of oatmeal, trail mix, honey, and a chopped banana. I got the banana from the prison kitchen and the other items from the monthly food packages my loved ones order for me.
At 10 a.m., I headed to church. The prison holds several services in its chaplaincy space. I mostly attend the nondenominational services.
I grew up going to church regularly, but I stayed away for years because of the hurt I experienced in my life. Now that I'm in prison, I've started going to church again to worship and be forgiven. It's a safe harbor in a stormy place.
After work I focused on my many studies
As part of my degree program, I have to read history, theology, philosophy, and etymology texts. On this day, I read Catherine Brekus' "Strangers & Pilgrims" and thought it was excellent.
I studied in my cell. I've requested to be able to study in the education department, which is where students work on their GEDs, but the permission was denied. Prison officials, unfortunately, aren't very supportive of my academic efforts.
I then found some time to practice my Spanish. Learning a language is fun and helps keep my mind sharp. It also gives me an opportunity to socialize with other prisoners, as there is a small group I study with.
I then had lunch, which consisted of diet coke and a cup of soup
I ate lunch at my desk in my cell while listening to my Spanish-language CD and then NPR.
For dinner, my friends and I threw some things together from the commissary: a few Ramen soups, chopped sausage, peppers, and an onion. These are the staples of a prison diet and make dinner both more palatable and more sanitary than what's served in the chow hall.
After dinner, I caught up with my buds while watching the news
My friends and I debated politics and policy, which burned a few hours.
One friend and I then took a walk, whispering about boys. We cackled and dreamed of a day when our freedoms would be restored. During that chat, the possibilities for a better day seemed so real to us both.
For just a moment, we forgot where we were and how much it sucked.
By 8 p.m., I was ready to call it a day and did my nightly routine
True to custom, I washed my face and brushed my teeth. I put lotion and facial moisturizer on, and after placing cocoa butter under my eyes, put Vaseline on my lips. I then did my evening prayers.
By 8:30, I was sound asleep: another day done and gone, another day closer to my release.
Overall, my life as a trans woman in a Georgia prison is complex and challenging, but it's also full of opportunities for growth and self-improvement. By staying focused on my studies and building strong relationships with others, I'm able to thrive despite the circumstances.