In this post I will discuss some of the scenes which occurred in season three of Orange Is The New Black particularly pertaining to the trans character of Sophia. If you have not watched season 3 you may not want to continue reading just yet BUT I personally encourage you to continue reading because I feel it will only enhance your thoughts and understanding when you do watch.
I must admit one of the major reasons I watch Orange Is The New Black is to watch the progression and development of the trans character Sophia Burset portrayed by the stunning Laverne Cox. As season 3 of the Netflix series wrapped up I realized that there was some major character development and relevant real life parallels made between Sophia and everyday trans women.
My heart went out to Sophia as she tackled so many things this year including Mother’s Day as a trans parent, and standing by while being called a “man” and “he-she”, I even flashed a smile when one of the other inmates correctively clarified that she wasn’t a drag queen nor was she wearing a costume, but the real turning point for me was when she was attacked. Since her debut in season 1 it was a breathe of fresh air to see a black trans woman playing herself on screen (even though she is in federal prison), but in season three there was a new never before seen reality of Sophia. Seeing her fend for her life against multiple women physically and verbally attacking her had the hairs on my arm standing up. She begged for help but was left to deal with the turmoil alone. I felt the blow to my soul but not so much for the character, but more so for the women (and men) who live this reality. Everyday trans peoples lives are verbally and physically attacked. While watching this scene may have been triggering to some, I leaned in and embraced the pain, the reality and authenticity of the story line. I was thankful in the moment verbal and emotional abuse was the extent of what I endured, knowing it wasn’t the reality for everyone.
Even more hurtful than the attack itself was when Sophia was taken to solitary as a way of “protecting” her. She was simply being punished because she was different, her identity was what caused an uproar and so by exiling her they were isolating the issue. The parallel in this is every single day the world finds a way to isolated the issue, trans people. We are kicked out of places of worship, out of family and friend circles, denied jobs and housing. Because the world doesn’t understand our identities, OR because they are too “difficult” or “confusing” to accommodate we are ignored and isolated. One proof of this is the lack of services or resources for trans people. Almost every trans person I know complains about the costs of their health care, or the lack of gender neutral restrooms. Healthcare and restrooms are too difficult and confusing for most of the world to tackle so they throw it back to us and leave us to deal with it on our own. When is our society going to stop trying to exile the problem instead of using the high levels of education we pride ourselves on to solve the problem?
Theres this constant push between confining ourselves or allowing the world to confine us, at least if we confine ourselves we hold the control. I tend to isolate myself often in attempt to protect myself which seems a bit foolish because the world already doesn’t a great job at isolating me and my intersecting identities. And as I sit here writing this I laugh at myself because I am realizing, yes, yes I am somewhat internally oppressed. I’ve been pushed away and neglected so much that purposely isolate myself even on a subconscious level. I’ve learned to be so desensitized and numb to interactions with other people, I genuinely can event recognize when someone is attracted to be or even pushing to be my friend. The interactions are cut and dry point A-B absolutely no detours because the less feelings that are involved the less I get hurt. That’s why I like to be alone, I live alone, I shop and dine alone. I am in control and I am protected, being alone I know exactly what bring to the table, me. This is what fuels the issues of trust I have with people. If you are one of those people looking to earn my complete trust I say don’t fret or break your back attempting to earn my trust, it’s likely you won’t, it’s not personal, “it’s not you it’s me” because I “trust no b*tch”. When I saw the title of this episode I bit my lip in amusement because I could relate. I even envied the odd and infected looking tattoo of the words Piper had on the inside of her forearm, I understood it, that’s how I lived my life for so long, trusting no b*tch because in the end they all seemed to prove this theory. Foolish of me to think this way right? But it’s my truth,that’s all I had to go off of, one by one the people who became closest to me never stuck around and proved to be less than worthy of my heart. I do realize self isolation and isolation in general is not the answer, but where is the balance between not isolating yourself but keeping yourself from feeling pain? The balance probably doesn’t exist. But until I find what works for me:
I trust no b*tch and fear nothing……..