Today is October 28th. 5 years ago, Ky Peterson’s life was forever changed. It’s been a while since he has written anything about his situation. He has been very busy working his detail and studying, so the email we got from him this morning surprised us a little….then after we read his message…. well, let’s just say that this is exactly the kind of thing we have grown to expect from Ky Peterson.
Well today I have been incarcerated for 5 years , (1,850 days) and I can say that this has changed my life. I never in a million years thought I would be in prison but here I am. This not an experience I would wish on anybody. The system is designed for everyone to kind of fit in the same “box”.
Prison is especially difficult for people with unique medical circumstances, like being trans. I know that someday I will be going home and I refuse to accept the “institutionalized prisoner” mentality that I have seen other people get. Those are the people who have given up hope, they see no better future for themselves. That was the reason why, when I figured out the way the system worked, I did everything in my power to work within the system to improve my situation, and make sure that my medical needs were taken care of. It’s not just about abiding by the rules and doing time until they let you out. That’s the easy road. I wanted to be better when I leave here, than I was when I got here. I wanted to find things to do that would be beneficial for me and to just help me make it through my time.
They don’t make it easy to get into classes and programs. Sometimes you have to push the counselors, annoy the officers, and bug the administration on the walk. I tried for almost a year to get into the GED program and I was told that I would not be able to take it until it was close to the time for me to go home. I thought long and hard about what to do; the only thing I had was a max out date for 2026 so, thinking I would have to sit in the dorm and do nothing drove me to write and ask every person I could until I got in school. Once I got in I studied, read everything, and went to the small library that we have to find more material to help me learn and get a better understanding of what they (the teachers) were telling us. My girlfriend ordered a College Dictionary for me so I wouldn’t have to borrow the good reference books from the library. I learned the material quickly and advanced in my class. When the time for GED testing came I was ready . I pass all 4 parts the first time I took the test. That was something I will always be proud of because I did something that I put my mind to, even with some people doubting my ability to succeed.
Since that time I have gone on to further my education by enrolling and completing a Business Technology and Customer Service course. That class was a little hard at first but in the end I still passed the class with an A average. I enjoyed taking that course because it kept me busy in a positive and educational way. It was a great learning experience for me because it brought me out of my comfort zone and challenged the way that I think about life. Some of the homework would be reading books that asked a critical thinking questions such as:
“What creates a positive image or what are negative things that can damage your image?”
“What is your style of communication ?”
“What are your goals and how do you plan to accomplish them? ”
There are a lot of ways the slide in basic answers to those questions, but the only answers that matter are the ones that you have to look in yourself to find. It was those little homework/evaluations that really helped me to continue to grow and find different ways to solve problems.
The best change I have made is in perspective. Moving forward in life is all in the attitude we have. Over the last 5 years, I have participated in several group; some of them are self-help, positive ways to express emotion/feeling, therapy, and even a mediation group. I learned so much in each group and the skill are skills I can use daily. Poetic Concepts help me to understand that there are so many ways a person can express their self through a writing, song, dance, letter, or just talking. I learned of the influence we have on others and the way to express myself more clearly. I also enjoyed Music Therapy and Back To The Basics, which I think both had the same concept of finding you inner peace through music, mediation, or exercise. I have taken other groups as well but these three were the ones that made the most impact on how I choose to live my day to day life.
I don’t let where I am break me, instead I use it to build myself up into the person I know is inside me. The word “Transition” is used by Doctors to describe the process that someone like me has to go through in order to make their physical body match their inner body. Before I started my physical transition, it was really important that I go through a personal and spiritual transition. Understanding what it means to be Human….to know that we all fall down, sometime over and over, but you have to keep getting back up. I chose to get up and make positive changes necessary to be more aware of my thoughts and action. Now, I know every person leaves a mark in the world that effects everyone around them. I have faced my past, I accept the fate that was dealt to me, and I can only do my best to create a better path for myself. I know that my path will cross with many others, and I hope that I can help other people rise up in the future.
I believe that I was sent here for a reason….As much as I would love to go home, I know that I will not until I have accomplished everything that I was meant to do in this place. I feel like I’ve done pretty good, and have peace in my heart about my time here. I will admit that I am worried about leaving Pulaski. This has been all that I’ve known for so long…..and I’m leaving behind the old me. I’m a different person than I was when I got here. The next big journey begins the day I walk through the gates. I thank God everyday for the incredible support system that keeps me going on this journey. I am looking forward to day 1,851 and every day after while I get ready to end this chapter of my life. It will be an awesome blessing to take all that God has given and taught me and pass it on.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Thank you for your kind letter and emails. Being uplifted by everyone has made it easy for me to keep going. New person, new path, new life, new journey…scared as hell…bring it on!
~Words of Ky