Boys & Girls

Maryhope Tobin

HEXBREAKER: Time Starts Now

BOYS & GIRLS

“Did I lose my bed to a man again?”

“Oh, no, Hope, we don’t use that language here. If someone says they identify as female, then she gets treated like a woman.”

“I see. But that dude got a bed and I didn’t.”

“Hope, do you need to go outside and talk about this?

  • This is about my experience, my opinion, my homeless
  • I have no objections – no real feelings either way, really – to anyone wanting to transform or transition to anything
  • I love men. I do. I’m crazy about men.

But in a women’s shelter, I don’t want to sleep 18″ away from a man I don’t know. A man no one knows. And in a women’s shelter – or anywhere – I shouldn’t have to justify my instincts or my feelings. They’re mine. No PC inclusive bullshit argument is going to change my gut reaction to that guy with the Mohawk. Explain “the language we use” all you want, that’s not a person transitioning. That’s a dude in makeup looking to get away from Oxford Street, looking for a nice (ish) bed (cot), food and a shower. Oh, and sleeping in a big open space surrounded by women.

Women are at Florence House for a reason. I’m there for financial reasons. Some women are just passing through. But many women – ladies girls clients residents – are DV survivors, living with PTSD. Women who have been beaten, raped and left for dead by men they knew and men they didn’t know. Women who are now in a women-only shelter (male staff) needing to sleep indoors, food, showers, housing information, counseling, not looking to sleep next to men no one knows. How exactly do staff know they’re not giving a bed to someone’s stalker? Do wife beaters phone ahead?

“Tell the bitch I’ll be there to tuck her in.”

“Well, we don’t give beds to non-female entities.”

“I’m just now experiencing a glorious transformation to the true womanhood of my self.”

“Super! Checkin’s at 5:00, dinner’s at 6:00.”

“Hey, do you screen for weapons?”

“Gosh no! It’s not the Florence House way!”

I speak for myself. This isn’t any kind of journalism or political opinion, it’s just my blog. And I don’t know the history of this issue, or even how long it’s been an issue. Honestly? I don’t give a shit. Over the last few weeks I’ve not been the only one complaining about the dudes. As one of the girls said, “wearing eye shadow don’t make you a tranny.” (Actually, she kind of growled it, from her camp chair. She growls most things. She is only mildly terrifying, one of the older gals. A partier. Much wiser than she lets on. I like her.) There are two trans women at Florence House, very upfront about their changes, inwardly and outwardly. I wasn’t real close to either of them, but they were always friendly. The two of them show a great deal of respect for the women around them. I’ve yet to see any respect for anyone from the random dudes. They leave the seat up. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much. But again, this is a women’s shelter. You can’t be bothered to put the fucking seat back down?

All it takes is one. One stalker, one ex-husband, one boyfriend, to get past the staff. It’s entirely possible to check in and hide out in or around the building until curfew at 8:00. By then most ladies have made their beds. Some are already asleep. Some are crocheting, reading, crying. (In my case, all three.) Some are watching the monstrous TV, which is turned off at 10:00 (there are five beds in the TV room – earbuds don’t come close to blocking that fucker out). People wander around, most lights are still on, but there are dark and hidden spaces. If a stalker passing as a tranny were targeting a client, s/he could easily track and observe.

Lights out at 10:00 and certain areas are darker than others. Is it possible to move silently among the metal cots? Yes. Most ladies do.

How hard would it be to stab, smother, strangle a woman who didn’t see the attacker coming? How long would it take? Women make a point of ignoring one another after lights out. You just can’t do it otherwise. If the stalker waits until third shift, nearly everyone in cots is asleep. Two emergency exits in the dining room/cots area. The doors are alarmed but they don’t attract the kind of attention they should.

Okay, that is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever written. Certainly makes me reconsider ever going back to a shelter.

A few thoughts on not getting a bed. Usually when I didn’t get a bed it was disappointing. But I’d eat dinner and be off-property by 7:00. I’d park right across Valley Street. I don’t sleep really well in the car. In fact, the best I get these days, anywhere, is three or four hours. At 5:00 am staff put coffee in the lobby, the primary common area. I go into Florence House at 5:00, have coffee, check my phone, chat with the other early birds, get shushed by staff and take a shower. Lights don’t come on until 7:30 – breakfast is at 8:30 because beds have to be put away, floor mopped and tables set up.

So that’s not so bad. It’s just nice to be inside. Laundry room opens at 7:30 – I can get a lot done before breakfast, actually. But recently, even without the dude infestation, sleeping on Valley Street is more and more tedious. Also, dangerous. I always park under the street light, visible to staff at the front desk. And there’s usually girls out in the driveway all night long, smoking, fighting, crying. That part of Valley Street is directly below Western Prom, all woods and creepy trails. The mosquitoes are fearsome. I have welts the size of Texas on my ass – even with the windows up. Do they come in through the vents? Fuckers. And one of the last times I slept on Valley Street, I woke up while it was still dark. Passing headlights illuminated my side window – and two face prints. I checked – they were on the outside. I tried to convince myself it was most likely those horrific GMO mosquitoes with human faces. Which was no less frightening than thinking it was two human men.

I don’t sleep on Valley Street anymore. I’m exhausted and I’m not moving forward. I cry a lot (I don’t recommend combining menopause with homeless). So the recent influx of dicks has made me resentful, pissed off and outraged. I don’t know how anyone can keep Florence House for women. I don’t know of any non-invasive screening process.   But that’s not my job. Maybe less time and energy on language and more time and energy on keeping women safe.

And that woman I mentioned earlier? The growly one? Don’t mess with her. Really.