As my time at Randolph Court nears its end, my most important challenge looms on the horizon. I don’t know that I was ready for it but are we ever really ready?
I’ve lived in this woman’s shelter for a calendar year now. More time away from my loved ones, more time paying a penalty for the crime of stupid love.
Along the way I’ve learned more ways to be humble – a more patient and tolerant human being is walking out of that location. I am thankful for the lessons she learned.
A while back the shelter director presented to the participants the concept of peer representation. One or more participants would meet with staff on a regular basis to review policy, address concerns and make the stay at Randolph collaborative.
Many of you won’t be surprised to hear that I was “elected” as peer representative. I use quotation marks because I never threw my hat into the ring. Rather, when the director asked for volunteers the collective heads of the participants all turned to me in unison.
Since being “elected” I’ve done some good. I got curfews extended. I got write ups eliminated to be replaced with counseling memos. I’ve advocated for many women mostly for the better. I lost one or two along the way but that is how things roll. My history in case management taught me that we can’t all cross the finish line at the same time.
The shelter I leave is better than the one I walked into and that is in part because of the work I put in, which makes me feel good. I do try to leave people places and things better of than when I first encountered them.
Yesterday when I walked in there was a new participant on the community room sofa sleeping. That is a rarity. I soon found out why…our new participant is a trans woman.
When I got that information I determined that I would do all that I could to make her arrival welcome. The current resident population is full of older women clutching their bibles and clicking their tongues at behavior that they don’t approve of, or they find unnatural.
Their god doesn’t believe in trans women. They also don’t believe that I can find a way to work blow job into almost every conversation. They think I am a sign of the times. In a sense they are right. There may be dark days ahead in Trump’s America, but people like me….alternative type folk ain’t going a damn place,
I chose to get a little less sleep to get a sense of the land this morning. It was mostly quiet. I had to repeatedly correct one participant that the pronoun was SHE. I had to remind her that she – the new participant – had every right to be there…and more importantly she had a NEED to be there…..
I may only have a few days left in the place but there is still work for me to do. I may not be capable of changing the hearts of old religious bigots too blinded by a faith that allowed them to vote for Trump because they fear other brown people just as oppressed as they are if not worse.
I cannot make them accept that our participant is just as much woman as they are, but I can ensure that any negative behavior – any comment – any slur or insult is dealt with swiftly. I can’t make Hillary Clinton President, but I sure as shit can yell lawsuit.
I offered my solo room for her. She has special needs and I am on my way out the door shortly. It would be worth having a roommate again to know that she can sleep peacefully in a space where she isn’t judged…at least for a moment.
I don’t know if she will stay….the pressure and stress may be too much for her. I do know that I am gonna buy her some razors. It is a small gesture but my way of saying I understand and support you. It is my way of saying I have your back.
…….and it is a whole hell of a lot better than a fucking whack assed safety pin.