Without safety, there is no shelter

I chose to brave the cold and sleep outside rather than staying in a shelter where I didn’t feel safe. I was a 24 year-old trans man staying in a male shelter. I was scared the whole time I was there because I didn’t know the people there or what I was going to be dealing with. I didn’t feel safe using the bathroom because I was afraid that I would be attacked. I had no privacy whatsoever. Sitting on the toilet, I could see men next to me using the bathroom and they could see me. When I looked up from that same position, I could see men taking showers. There weren’t any walls or barriers like normal bathrooms.

I told a staff person at the shelter that I was transgender and didn’t feel safe or comfortable without having some privacy when going to the bathroom or taking a shower. They said that there wasn’t anything they could do and advised me to call 2-1-1 again and see if there was another shelter that could provide the accommodations that I needed. I had many questions that couldn’t be answered, like why couldn’t I take a shower alone while everyone was asleep? They told me that everyone had to shower together at the same time, and if they were to allow me to shower separately then “they would have to allow others the same privileges.” I didn’t want to risk being harassed or attacked, so I chose to leave for my own safety. I called 2-1-1 and found out that there were no shelters around me that could provide the safety that I needed.

Jay’zon Cole (Hartford, CT)

Bio:  My dream is to complete my full transition as a man, and continue advocating for the LGBTQ+ community in the foster care system. I want to get my bachelor’s degree in social work and criminal justice, and launch a new model of an LGBTQ+ adult group home.


Interview with the Photographer

Learn More