The jail humbled me. It reminded me of my own resilience. My name is Channyn Lynne Parker, and I have
been an advocate inside the Cook County Department of Corrections. When I went into the jail, initially no one
knew I was trans. But, well, word travels fast and so much for that. The fact that I could walk in and out as a
free woman — there were officers who would look at me and, there was such an offense.
You could feel this sense of… “If I had the chance you have no idea what I would do to you.” I was someone who came from a population that
should not be heard. The trans women who we sought to serve — they
were the forgotten population. My role was to engage them as best I could. I did kind of what you would call a psycho-education
group. We just talked. There were actually officers who would come
in to listen, they would sneak in. There was this officer, and I was leaving.
And, he like starts walking after me and I‘m just like, “Oh great, you know, like, a
closet weirdo who’s about to come up to me and like, try to say something.” I don’t
know. And he goes, “I’ve watched you, and what
you do, for the past couple of months.” And — using this officer’s language — he
says, “My son is transgender, and I don’t get it. But, if my child can be as graceful
and as intelligent and as beautiful as you, then I am all for it.” You just never know whose lives you’re going to affect by doing what it is that you’re supposed to do.