Statement from Marius and recent paintings done at his now former unit:
Dear Friends and Family,
I don’t write very often, as much of my life in the past few years has not seemed very news-worthy…I have been trying to do my best to be a comfort and a support to my fellow prisoners in whatever ways I can be of service, though. We have been through a lot together in these times, what with covid and all of its attendant restrictions.
But on September 7th, which is Rosh HaShana in the Jewish calendar, I was called from the chapel trailer at the FSL to the office. I was told to pack out immediately. This was the culmination of my years of advocating for my transfer to a male facility as the logical next step in my transition. It looked like I was going to begin the new year 5782 (still 2021 for most folks) as probably the first trans man to be designated to a male facility in the federal system.
It was suddenly time to go, after waiting for so long -so I said my last good-byes to the friends that I had made at the FSL. All of my crap fit into 5 bags and on to a hand cart, which I pushed through the gates one last time and went down to a waiting van. I was shackled up and packed in, and we drove through the parking lot down to the FCI, which is just down the hill from the FSL – all part of the Danbury prison complex here.
From the van, I entered the gates to the R and D which I had come through 2 years ago when I first arrived in Connecticut. Next, I was stripped out by a male officer for the first time – but just like anyone else entering the FCI. It was treated like a normal procedure. Being stripped by anyone never feels normal, really, but this was as low key as it ever has been as a prisoner in the system. Despite this, I could feel myself getting nervous as I did not know what to expect anymore. Up to this point in my incarceration career, lots of people (both officers and prisoners) had shared their ideas with me about how incredibly dangerous it would be for a trans man to be in a men’s prison. Lots of ugly and violent possibilities were detailed and shared whenever I had brought up my desire to be transferred as a way to live more completely as a man among men.
But I still believe in the innate goodness of people, all people, and I knew from experience that women in the prison system did not get credited with having humanity or kindness – and since I knew that was inaccurate – why would the men be so much different in their actions and attitudes? I refused to sell them short as being less than anyone else. And that conviction helped me to see past my nervousness…
I was walked to the Skills Unit, I-A, and met several guys living here who were either residents or peer mentors. The men were friendly and open, willing to answer my questions about how things ran here. The Skills Unit is a therapeutic community, a residential community engaged in programming for various psychological issues. There are community meetings to talk about challenges the residents have, and I came out as trans at that first meeting and described what I hoped to be able to offer as a peer mentor.
Fortunately, I have been able to continue my studies in the HVAC course – as there was a men’s class running at the same time as the women’s class at the FSL. The guys in my class have been easy-going and unfazed by my presence. We are there to study and that is what we do together.
So most of the past few weeks has been getting to know the compound, meeting people and taking care of the logistics of being in a new prison: getting uniforms from laundry, getting my visitation list together, learning the culture of what passes for usual here. I am glad to report that the dreaded bathroom difficulties have not been so bad – there are doors and no one has been bothered. I am sensitive to others’ privacy as well. Same goes for the shower issue, there have been no big problems to date – just try to time my showers so it is not crowded or better, when no one is trying to get
in or out.
There are differences also because this is an FCI, and there are more rules and regulations than there were at the lower security FSL – but most tend to make things run more predictably. I can honestly say that I am more at peace here in this new community, there are different kinds of drama and interactions (common in any group of humans, of course)…but it feels more understandable and navigable to me. I miss some of the great people that I was privileged to know at the FSL, my friends Molly, Mary Beth and Diana, especially….I am hoping they are well and will keep safe and healthy. But I feel like I can do my time here and get along fine –
though I am still in the process of figuring things and wonder if things will change much as the compound goes from restricted movement back into the “green” mode of pre-covid days. It’s early weeks in, but so far, so good. It has been a small distance to travel across a parking lot, but it feels like another mile for trans-kind. Hopefully, we will all keep movin’ on…
Love and Solidarity, Marius