Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day Six- Oct 23rd: No Male Priveledge on the Streets

Today my search for a shelter bed began early. At 9 am the homeless outreach team came (see above) and told me people are not allowed to lay down in front of city hall. They promised me a shelter bed and whisked me away in a van. They told me of I waited at a drop I center until 5 pm I would get a bed. Well, first they said I could have a bed if I would accept a female bed. I said "no," and when I came back at 4:30, they said they had no beds and I should go wait at the drop in shelter that I had been waiting at for the last couple of days, waiting for 6 hours and leaving with nothing.

It was one of the most degrading experiences of my life to hear them, with such good hearts, knowing the right thing, but processing it out loud in an unfortunate way: "she has to stay in that bed," "he the doesn't want a womans bed"... "No she doesn't because she is a man, and he doesn't have to stay there" and on and on for about an hour. The person who was the wortst at keeping pronouns straight took me over to the front desk of the shelter and told them not to disrespect my gender, that my name as Ryan and they should make sure to get me a bed in the men's side.

All of that and no bed.

Hours later at the library, I desperately needed to use the bathroom. In the mens room I am confined to using a stall, and there are very few of them. After waiting more than an hour for a stall, I was pretty sure no one was coming out of them anytime soon. I gave in, and used the womans room. I was followed in by a police officer who looked me up and down before muttering "well alright."

I just want shelter. But our system is designed to protect women and children. "Male priveledge" does not exist when you are homeless. And it is still strangely true that I am read as female more often when I'm packing and binding then in my normal life and I am not.

What a strangely gendered day!

Tonight I think of the tough choices my trans kin have to make in order to survive on the streets, may they all be warm tonight!

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