James St. James: So tell me about the drag queen who cut her dick off.
Michael Alig: Well her name is Beatrice. . . .
James: I love that name.
Michael: Her name is Bea, but everybody calls her Big Bird because she’s really really, really tall and lanky and white. And she goes around the yard walking like a bird, picking each leg up, you know, like a stork, and wearing these really, really short shorts, tight short shorts, with shaved bumpy legs. She’s actually very you, James.
James: (Laughs, but is secretly outraged)
Michael: So anyway: We were in the package room together one day – and there is a big thing in here, where the drag queens like to dress as girls in underwear, thongs and panties and bras and stuff – and if you’re on hormones and you have boobs, they let you do that.
James: You can get hormones in prison?
Michael: Yes. That’s what that whole story in New York magazine was about.
James: Oh right, right.
Michael: So anyway, she’s not on hormones, but she’s a girl, you know, she lives as a girl. So, we’re in the package room and she had ordered these women’s panties and they wouldn’t give them to her. So she was screaming: “This is sex discrimination! If I was a woman in a man’s prison you’d let me have men’s underwear!” – but they wouldn’t give them to her. So that night, at two o’clock in the morning, I see the officers and paramedics rushing to her cell with a stretcher. And she’s in there, wearing rubber gloves, and with alcohol swabs, and she has twisted her ball sac into a little knot and she’s cutting her ball sac off with the top of a tin can – a tuna fish can – and there’s blood everywhere. She’s got a bucket underneath her, and there’s blood going everywhere. And her reasoning is that if she’s a girl, she can get these panties. . . . And I guess it made sense at the time. So the next day, I was the hit of the yard with my “Isn’t Bea ridiculous?” joke.
James: What is your “isn’t Bea ridiculous” joke?
Michael: NO – “re-dick-less” . . .
Michael: One of the many stories. (Laughs)
James: Tell me about some of the other trannies in prison.
Michael: Did I ever tell you about Jessica?
Michael: She’s the one who started the whole thing to get the state to pay for sex change operations. She’s at Clinton. She is so funny, James. She doesn’t have any money, and she wanted to have her sex change operation and so she came up with this idea: There’s a craft fair at most facilities where you can make hobbies and crafts and then you can set up a little table at “rec time” and other inmates can buy little stuff from you. They fill out a little form and the money gets transferred from their account to your account. And so Jessica made the cutest little pom-pom figures – you know, a little snowman, and little doggies with the googly eyes that you shake, green and red and yellow, all smiley, on little cardboard stands – and she sells them for 25 and 50 cents, because in here people hardly have any money, and 50 cents is a lot of money to somebody in here, you know?
Michael: So she sells them for 25 and 50 cents, and all the money is going to her sex change. Her idea is that she’s going to turn into a woman, and then go into a woman’s facility.
James: But a sex change costs hundreds of thousands of dollars
Michael: Well that’s the cute part of the story, James. She’s saving up a quarter here, and a quarter there. . . . And all the guys in here are really, really supportive of her, because she really looks like a girl, and she has sex with all of them, so there are these big macho rapist murderers, who have these little pom-pom dolls hanging on their cell gate or on their TV, and they’re all chipping in for her sex-change operation.
Michael: No, it’s really sweet.
James: No, that IS really sweet.
Michael: Anyway- she’s the one who ended up suing the state because they gave her hormones. She wasn’t on hormones when she came in here, and they gave her hormones. And now she’s growing little boobies and saying it’s cruel and unusual punishment for them to start the transition and not finish it, so she won, and they have to finish it now.
James: So the penal system is paying for her. . . penal removal.
Michael: Exactly. And it’s not just her. It’s caused a snowball effect and an avalanche of drag queens. Every day they’re here huddling in the yard getting their papers together, filing their own lawsuits. Dozens of them in this facility have filed their lawsuits. And Cynthia – the one at Attica – has filed hers. And they’re all getting their sex changes. Only in America, right?