In the late eighties, when I finally left my parents’ house, I came to New York City
with nowhere to go.
So I ran into some people that I had met previously coming back and forth to the city.
So I wound up going to this place called Under 21, which is a youth shelter.
It was very scary because they put you in this big dorm with all of these people.
But at this point, it was better than sleeping on the street or in Port Authority or something
like that, because I refused to go home.
I stayed there for about four months.
But in the process of staying there, I was meeting different people that were opening
my eyes to the trans world.
Wind up getting getting some fake ID and I wind up getting a job.
So you only can work a job for a certain amount of time because they digging into your background.
So you go from one little job to another little job to another little job, just to keep yourself
Then I couldn’t get another job so it didn’t – hanging out with certain people, they introduced
me to a world that I will never forget.
It’s part of my life.
I had to go out and do street work, sex work, which is not – I’m not proud of it, but I’m
not ashamed of it.
I talk about it because it was part of my life where I had to survive.
During the course of doing all that, that’s when I met some people who protected me, who
taught me how to survive in this type of environment.
I remember the first time I did it, I cried because I felt violated.
Because I was letting some man touch me for money and I had to sit there and deal with
Actually, he threw me out of the car because I wouldn’t stop crying because it just didn’t
feel right to me.
But you have to do what you have to do to survive and back in those days, you didn’t
have laws to protect you from certain things.
So I tried to go back to Long Island to reconcile with my parents but that just didn’t work
because they were still stuck in their ways.
“You can’t come around here dressed like this or you looking like that.”
And at this point in my life, there was no turning back.
Me and my roommate decided to go to Philly to visit, but we didn’t come back.
We wound up renting a house because he met these two brothers who were suppose to be
our boyfriends, who just used us and we didn’t know it.
It got to the point where I was actually being pimped and did not realize it until the end.
I got hit because I didn’t make money – enough money.
When I feel threatened, I have to escape.
So I had to figure out my best exit without being harmed.
So I said, “Yes, I’ll go out and get you anything you want.
You know, I love you.”
You have to – I had to tell him what he wanted to hear.
So when I went out, I just never came back.
I completely disappeared.
I got on the next train – I made money and I got on the next train to New York.
I wound up meeting some other people who decided to show me other options, instead of being
out there on the street.
It was a program called Streetworks, and how I met them – found out about them, it was
a friend of mine that I – it was in midtown and a friend of mine said, “Oh, you can
go there to take a shower and get some new clothes and all this other stuff.”
So I said, “Okay, let’s go.”
So when I went there – and this time, they were on 10th Avenue in 40-something street.
It was a really small place, really, really small.
And I get introduced to my caseworker, who told me I can, you know, do steps to get myself
And at this point, I was homeless so I was going from this shelter to that shelter to
this shelter to that shelter to try to survive.
Being a trans woman, certain shelters would not allow you to come in because it was a
quote-unquote a “men’s shelter” and you’re supposed to look like a man, and when you
have certain aspects, they’re like, “Oh, you can’t come here because we can’t be
responsible for what happens to you.”
So it was kind of hard bouncing from place to place, but ultimately I wound up getting
a room, and from a room, I got an apartment.
And that’s when I started a brand new life.
There’s always a way out of a bad situation if you want a way out.
There are people that I know that stay in the predicaments that they’re in because they
want to stay there.
When I was in all of those predicaments, where I was – the prosecution and this and that.
I wanted to be there because I thought the people that I was with were helping me, so
I wanted to be there.
But when I realized that what they were doing, it wasn’t from me, it was more or less for
them, is when I got out.
So people have to realize that if someone is not there for you, they’re there against
Open your eyes and listen and if it’s something that can be harmful to you, run.
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