This past Friday, I worked 1-9pm. I spent some of the later evening talking with a prisoner whom I’ve known for 18 years. For 16 of those years, his name was Saul. I say ‘was,’ because his name is now Crystal. Saul discovered that he’d been suffering from gender identity disorder. With medical treatment, he’s now a she.
Crystal spoke to me about her crime and about her civil suit against the state for not giving her the GID medication she feels is needed.
As she speaks to me, I see this former man with eyeliner, lipstick, and a bustline, and one of the thoughts I have is, “I wonder what her parents think of all this.” So I ask her. She explains that her father died 20 years ago. She also says when she told her mother about the GID, mom’s first words were “i KNEW it!”Although mom’s not happy with the change because “She wanted a son,” she’s trying to be supportive.
Another thought occurs to me: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” But then I check myself and wonder if that thought is born of understanding or smug superiority. I decide to keep an open mind.
Crystal says that certain officers are angry with her — not because of the change, although that takes some getting used to. They’re aggravated because the state has to foot the bill. Crystal says she reminds them about the ‘care’ in the phrase ‘care and custody.’ (She confides in me the number of suicide attempts she’s carried out, including one soon after her confession of the murder to the police. She has also tried killing herself during incarceration).
When that doesn’t work, she challenges them: “If your son was diagnosed with GID, you’d do whatever you could to help him. You’d want to see him happy again.” She says most of her life has been spent in depression and not being comfortable in her own skin as a male.
Before leaving my office, she makes a point of thanking me for the conversation, saying, “It felt good talking these things out.”