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A rainbow flag and trans flag next to each other
Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

My life in a California prison has been exceptionally hard because I am misunderstood by my peers. Most of them don’t know anything about the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity in the LGBTQ+ community. Trying to explain it to everyone is difficult, but I feel the effort is worth it. Maybe it will keep people from hating or pre-judging my people.

Although the prison system only has two designations, male and transgender, I identify as gender-fluid, specifically in the transgender category. I think the other inmates have trouble digesting the fact that even though my outward appearance is male, I have feminine ways and I wear bras and panties. I also have breasts due to the hormone treatment medication I’ve been taking since July 5, 2019.

It took me years to get to this stage of my transition, and I’m proud to be an in-the-open-to-everyone — even family — transgender person. There were people who made jokes or felt betrayed by my transition. Also, I wondered if I made a mistake coming out as transgender too quickly after already identifying as bisexual. But I came through my confusion.

To be honest, sometimes I like it when dudes flirt with me. Then I remember that, most likely, they are only flirting to get sex. There are some people interested in real relationships in here, but I want to make sure I’m mentally and emotionally prepared before I move on to that stage.

The support from my fellow transgender people has been spotty at best. I have to be strong and learn a lot on my own. Support from my mom is a huge part of my confidence and self-esteem.

So far, I’ve been accepted in every circle of people I’ve encountered. My fear is that I’ll have to start over with the process of rejection and acceptance by my peers if I’m transferred to another prison.

This is a little of what I go through daily. Life is a never-ending learning process, which I embrace wholeheartedly.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Shariff Taylor is an African-American transgender writer who is incarcerated in California. Shariff is from Newark, N.J., and is an activist for LGBTQ rights in and out of prison. They identify as gender-fluid. Shariff has been published in the American Prison Writing Archive, a partner of the Global Forum Online.