Black, Trans & Proud

Today I had the opportunity to speak to an amazing group of people and share my story. This blog is the written portion of my presentation, slightly modified to fit this format.

AS HE SAID, MY NAME IS LAYNE INGRAM AND IT REALLY IS A SURREAL FEELING TO BE ABLE TO TALK TO A GROUP OF PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR LIFE – AND KNOW THAT IT MAY HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT OR CHANGE THE WAY SOMEONE VIEWS A CERTAIN TOPIC OR ISSUE.

THE NAME OF MY PRESENTATION IS BLACK, TRANS AND PROUD. AND FRANKLY, IT’S BECAUSE I’M BLACK, I’M TRANS AND I’M PROUD OF BOTH. ALSO IT’S PRIDE MONTH AND THAT REALLY FITS.

PART 1: BLACK

IF YOU LOOK AT ME, YOU CAN SEE THAT I’M BLACK. I’VE BEEN BLACK FOR 40 YEARS – THERE WERE TIMES WHEN I DIDN’T REALLY KNOW WHAT THAT MEANT, CERTAINLY NOT THE WAY I DO NOW. MORE ON THAT LATER.

GROWING UP, I HAD A PRETTY NORMAL CHILDHOOD – AND THAT CRACKS ME UP SOMETIMES. THINGS ABOUT MY LIFE WERE GOOD – GREAT EVEN. TWO LOVING PARENTS, I HAVE THREE SIBLINGS AND IN MY HOUSE GROWING UP, I WAS THE OLDEST. 

I WAS A HAPPY KID WITH A BIG FAMILY THAT WAS REALLY REALLY CLOSE. THE CRAZY THING ABOUT THAT IS THAT WHILE WE WERE REALLY CLOSE, WE WERE ALSO CLOSED. 

THERE WERE THINGS WE DIDN’T TALK ABOUT. THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT, THINGS I DIDN’T EXPLORE – THINGS I COULDN’T EXPLORE.

THE ROOT OF THAT WAS GROWING UP IN THE CHURCH. AND I THINK SOME OF THE ROOT OF THAT, IN THE 80’S WAS BEING BLACK. AND I DIDN’T EVEN REALLY REALIZE IT. 

IF I HAD TO GIVE YOU THE FOUNDATION OF MY LIFE, IT WOULD DEFINITELY BE BASED ON TWO THINGS: CHURCH AND BASKETBALL

MY GRANDFATHER WAS AN ELDER AND MY GRANDMOTHER IS AN EVANGELIST AND LIKE – A MIGHTY PRAYER WARRIOR. 

I WAS IN CHURCH ALL THE TIME – ALL THE TIME. 

I BRING THAT UP JUST TO SAY THAT I KNOW IT HAD AN IMPACT ON HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO FIND MYSELF.

TRANSGENDER WASN’T A THING I WAS FAMILIAR WITH – THAT WASN’T A TERM THAT I HEARD. AND WHEN THE TOPIC OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY DID COME UP – IT WASN’T POSITIVE. 

ON THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM – I HAD BASKETBALL – MY DAD WAS A BASKETBALL COACH AND I LOVED THE GAME. I STARTED PLAYING WHEN I WAS ABOUT FOUR YEARS OLD – AND I GOT PRETTY GOOD AT IT.  

I ENDED UP GOING TO WAVERLY SCHOOLS, WHICH I REALIZE MOST OF YOU WON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT, BUT AT THE TIME IT WAS A PREDOMINATELY WHITE SCHOOL DISTRICT. I DIDN’T KNOW THAT. I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS SCHOOL. 

IT’S HARD TO BE AWARE OF YOUR BLACKNESS WHEN YOU AREN’T AROUND A LOT OF BLACK PEOPLE. I WAS BASICALLY AROUND BLACK PEOPLE AT CHURCH AND WHITE PEOPLE AT SCHOOL. 

THE FIRST TIME I BECAME AWARE – I WAS A KID AND I WAS ABOUT 12 OR 13 AND I WAS SHOPPING IN DOTS – YEP, DOTS BECAUSE I WAS A GIRL – AND THE SALES PERSON FOLLOWED ME AROUND. I REMEMBER BEING MAD BUT ALSO JUST HAVING AN ATTITUDE.

THE SECOND TIME IS BASKETBALL RELATED – SO BASKETBALL WAS MY THING – I PLAYED ALL YEAR ROUND. I WAS A TWO-TIME PLAYER OF THE YEAR IN HS, ALL-AMERICAN, MY JERSEY IS RETIRED THERE AND I EARNED A SCHOLARSHIP TO PLAY BASKETBALL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. 

I TOLD YOU – I HAD A GOOD LIFE. THINGS WERE GOING GREAT FOR ME. 

AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT IT APPEARED YOU KNOW – I LATER REALIZED HOW I USED BASKETBALL TO MASK HOW I WAS REALLY FEELING AND WHAT I WAS DEALING WITH.

WHO COULD HAVE TIME FOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH BOYS WHEN YOU COULD SPEND TIME IN THE GYM GETTING BETTER AT BASKETBALL RIGHT? 

– AND YES, I WAS OBSESSED WITH THE GAME, BUT I REMEMBER HAVING CRUSHES, AND THEY WEREN’T ON GUYS. 

AND AT THE TIME THERE WAS JUST NOTHING TO DO WITH THOSE FEELINGS. AND SO I PUT IT INTO BASKETBALL. 

SO THE SECOND TIME I REMEMBER BEING AWARE THAT I WAS BLACK ALSO WASN’T A GREAT EXPERIENCE BUT IT WAS FOR A DIFFERENT REASON. I WAS ON MY OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN AND THERE WERE A COUPLE OTHER RECRUITS THERE. ONE OF THEM WAS FROM DETROIT. 

SO WE WERE AT THE FOOTBALL GAME AND I HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM OR CONCESSIONS OR SOMETHING AND I GUESS WHILE I WAS GONE – THE KID FROM DETROIT LEANED OVER AND ASKED MY DAD IF I WENT TO A PREP SCHOOL.

AND MY DAD IS LIKE NO WHY?

AND SHE SAYS – OH, BECAUSE OF THE WAY SHE TALKS. 

MY DAD DIDN’T TELL ME THAT FOR A LONG TIME. AND STILL TO THIS DAY, OVER 20 YEARS LATER, I THINK ABOUT THAT ALL THE TIME AND WHAT THAT MEANS. AND WHAT IT MEANT AT THE TIME. 

WHEN I THINK ABOUT WHO I AM NOW AND BEING A BLACK MAN –  I’VE NEVER BEEN MORE AWARE OF BEING BLACK BUT I’VE ALSO NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD – I WAS PROUD OF BEING BLACK BEFORE BUT I DIDN’T IDENTIFY WITH BEING A BLACK WOMAN AND SO I THINK THERE WAS ALWAYS A LITTLE DISCONNECT FOR ME. 

AND NOW, I FEEL MORE LIKE MYSELF THAN EVER BEFORE. I LOVE THAT I HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE THE BEST TYPE OF MAN I CAN BE BUT I ALSO HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE A STRONG BLACK MAN FOR THOSE THAT COME BEHIND ME.

PART 2: TRANSITIONS

 MY PARENTS HAD THREE KIDS IN THE HOUSE AND THEY WERE YOUNG – I DIDN’T REALIZE THEIR STRUGGLE BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT FOR ANYTHING, AND CERTAINLY NOT LOVE.

THAT’S ONE OF THE REALLY INCREDIBLE THINGS ABOUT MY STORY TO ME – I FELT SO LOVED GROWING UP. I WAS TAUGHT THAT FAMILY IS EVERYTHING – YOU’RE ALWAYS THERE FOR YOUR FAMILY. 

I THINK THAT’S WHY IT HURT SO MUCH THE FIRST TIME I CAME OUT AND IT DIDN’T GO WELL. YEP YOU HEARD ME, THE FIRST TIME I CAME OUT. 

THIS PART IS CALLED TRANSITIONS – REMEMBER… 

SO I’M IN COLLEGE AND I THINK WE ALL KNOW THAT COLLEGE IS A TRANSITION IN AND OF ITSELF. 

THE FREEDOM 

AND THE RESPONSIBILITY.

ALL THE NEW PEOPLE.

AND FOR ME, I HAD A LOT GOING ON. I WAS ON THE BASKETBALL TEAM. I HAD STUDY HALL, AND MEETINGS, AND TRAVEL AND ALLLL THE NEW PEOPLE. 

I GOT BOLDER IN COLLEGE – I GOT SOME STYLE AND LIKE I SAID, I CAME OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME.

IT’S JUST NOT AN EASY THING TO DO – EVER. FOR ANYBODY. 

BACK THEN, I CAME TO THE REALIZATION THAT I ONLY LIKED WOMEN AND BASICALLY LOST IT. 

HOW COULD I BE GAY – I GREW UP IN THE CHURCH – I WAS GOING TO BE A DISAPPOINTMENT AND AN EMBARRASSMENT TO MY FAMILY. WHAT A FIASCO. HOW WAS I GOING TO TELL THEM? 

THOSE ARE ALL OF THE THOUGHTS THAT WENT THROUGH MY MIND. 

I REALIZED THIS DURING MY SOPHOMORE YEAR OF COLLEGE AND IT DIDN’T GO WELL. I DIDN’T PLAY WELL AND MY GRADES SUFFERED. 

I TOLD MY COACH – AND SHE WAS REALLY SUPPORTIVE. HOOKED ME UP WITH A COUNSELOR – THAT ALSO DIDN’T GO WELL. I STRUGGLED HARD AT THE BEGINNING WITH RECONCILING MY FEELINGS WITH MY UPBRINGING. 

I HELD ON TO THAT FOR TWO MORE YEARS AND DIDN’T COME OUT TO MY PARENTS UNTIL MY SENIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE. 

WHY? I DON’T KNOW. SCARED – UNSURE – WORRIED.

ADD ON TOP OF THAT, ALL I HAD AT MY DISPOSAL WAS THAT I WAS GAY AND IT DIDN’T FEEL RIGHT BUT THAT’S WHAT I HAD. 

WHEN I TOLD MY DAD – HIS RESPONSE WAS: WHAT DID I DO WRONG.

WHEN I TOLD MY MOM – SHE CRIED.

THOSE ARE NOT IDEAL RESPONSES. JUST FYI. IF SOMEONE COMES OUT TO YOU – TRY NOT TO DO EITHER OF THOSE THINGS.

I LOVE MY PARENTS BUT SHEESH. HAHA. THEY ARE GREAT AND IT TAKES TIME.

SO THAT WASN’T A GREAT WAY TO START MY JOURNEY TO FINDING MYSELF. 

I FELT ASHAMED, I FELT LIKE THEY WERE EMBARRASSED OF ME.

 I DIDN’T MAKE MYSELF LIKE WOMEN. IT JUST HAPPENED THAT WAY. IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN WHAT WAS TO COME.

SO I WAS 21 ISH WHEN I CAME OUT TO MY PARENTS AND I LIVED THE NEXT 15 YEARS OF MY LIFE AS A LESBIAN. 

YOU’LL NOTICE THAT DIDN’T ROLL RIGHT OFF OF MY TONGUE – IT JUST NEVER FELT RIGHT. EVER. I DIDN’T IDENTIFY AS THAT – IT’S JUST WHAT I HAD. 

IT’S VERY HARD TO EXPLAIN – IMAGINE IF EVERYDAY THINGS ABOUT YOU JUST FELT OFF. AND YOU DIDN’T KNOW WHAT OR WHY? YOU JUST KNEW THERE WERE THINGS YOU DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF OR THAT DIDN’T FEEL AUTHENTIC OR REAL. OR LIKE YOU’RE WALKING AROUND AS YOU BUT ARE YOU REALLY YOU?

I HAD A REALLY IMPORTANT MOMENT IN 2005. I HAD MOVED OUT TO LA A COUPLE OF YEARS PRIOR WITH MY THEN WIFE AT THE TIME AND I WAS UP FOR A JOB AT THE YMCA. 

THAT SAME DAY – I DECIDED TO CUT ALL OF MY HAIR OFF AND GO SHORT. IT WAS A WILD TIME. 

I HAD JUST INTERVIEWED WITH THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND I WAS HEADED TO THE PANEL INTERVIEW WITH FOUR OTHER MEMBERS OF THE TEAM. 

SHE HAD COME OUT TO ME BECAUSE I GUESS THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE IN LA DO WHEN YOU FIRST MEET THEM AND SO I HAD COME OUT TO HER. RIGHT BEFORE WE WENT IN – I TURNED TO HER AND SAID, “WHAT DO I SAY IF THEY ASK ME WHY I MOVED OUT HERE” BECAUSE I HAD MOVED WITH MY PARTNER AND I WOULD HAVE NEVER SAID THAT IN AN INTERVIEW IN MICHIGAN.

AND SHE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID “YOU TELL THEM THE TRUTH. YOU’RE YOU – AND IF ANYBODY HAS A PROBLEM WITH THAT, IT’S THEIR PROBLEM, NOT YOURS.”

I HAD JUST MET THIS LADY AND THAT MOMENT CHANGED MY LIFE. 

FROM THAT POINT ON – THAT WAS MY MANTRA AND STILL IS: I CAN ONLY BE ME. 

I WALKED WITH MY HEAD HELD A LITTLE HIGHER.

THAT SINGULAR MOMENT HELPED ME IMMENSELY – MORE THAN I COULD KNOW AT THE TIME. 

AFTER SEVEN YEARS IN LA, I SPENT A COUPLE OF RATHER UNEVENTFUL, BUT IMPORTANT, YEARS IN IOWA BEFORE COMING BACK HOME TO MICHIGAN. WHICH IS WHERE I’M AT NOW.

WHEN YOU’RE TRANSITIONING – THE RIGHT SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES IS SO IMPORTANT. IT WAS FOR ME ANYWAY.

I HAD BEEN IN A RELATIONSHIP FOR 10 YEARS – FROM THE TIME I WAS 22 TO THE TIME I WAS 32. THOSE ARE SOME REALLY IMPORTANT YEARS IN A PERSON’S LIFE – DEVELOPMENTALLY. 

THERE’S A LOT OF CHANGES THAT OCCUR JUST IN WHO YOU ARE OVERALL; FOR ME, I WAS JUST STILL KIND OF MAKING IT. STILL A GOOD LIFE. GOOD JOB, DECENT RELATIONSHIP (NOT THE RIGHT ONE), WELL ADJUSTED CITIZEN. SAME AS BEFORE – FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN – WHAT COULD BE WRONG?

THAT’S WHAT I MEAN ABOUT THE RIGHT SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES – THE RIGHT JOB, THE RIGHT LOCATION, THE RIGHT SUPPORT NETWORK, THE RIGHT DOCTORS – IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD, IT TAKES AN ARMY TO BE TRANS.

SO MY FINAL TRANSITION – THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF TRANSGENDER WAS FOREIGN TO ME. WHEN I GOT BACK TO MICHIGAN, I MET A TRANS GUY SHORTLY AFTER AND WE BECAME REALLY GOOD FRIENDS. I DIDN’T KNOW HE WAS TRANS FOR THE FIRST YEAR AND A HALF OF OUR FRIENDSHIP. 

AT THE SAME TIME, I HAD GOTTEN INTO A NEW RELATIONSHIP AND WAS FEELING MORE CONNECTED TO MYSELF THAN EVER BEFORE. I WAS IN A SITUATION WHERE I COULD TAKE THE TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHO I WAS. 

IN 2016 I GOT MARRIED TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE AND TWO MONTHS AFTER THAT – I TOLD HER I WAS TRANS. 

THANKFULLY – SHE LOVED ME FOR ME. AND INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, SHE SAYS SHE ALWAYS WONDERED ABOUT ME. 

Causley-Ingram Wedding Friday September 30, 2016. KEVIN W. FOWLER PHOTO

SO I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK ABOUT THAT. 

WHEN I FIRST REALIZED I WAS TRANS – IT WAS AS THOUGH EVERY SINGLE THING THAT DIDN’T MAKE SENSE, FINALLY DID. 

WHY DID I HATE MY BODY?

WHY WAS I SO UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE TERM LESBIAN?

WHY DID I DRESS THE WAY I DID?

WHY DID I PRESENT THE WAY THAT I DID?

IT HIT ME IN THE CHEST – HARD. ANOTHER REALIZATION AND ANOTHER COMING OUT. 

I’LL BE HONEST WITH YOU – I WAS SCARED TO LET THE WORDS FORM ON MY MOUTH. 

BUT IT HIT ME SO HARD AND FELT SO RIGHT THAT THE FEAR MELTED AWAY. IT WAS STILL NERVE WRACKING AND I HAD ANXIETY WHEN I HAD TO COME OUT TO PEOPLE BUT IT’S DIFFERENT WHEN IT’S RIGHT, IT’S DIFFERENT WHEN IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. BECAUSE YOU KNOW THE TRUTH. 

IT’S A PROCESS – IT STARTS WITH THERAPY – WHICH I LOVE THERAPY AND THEN DEPENDING ON WHAT YOUR GOALS ARE, GOES FROM THERE.

IN MY CASE – I SAW A THERAPIST WHO RECOMMENDED A DOCTOR THAT COULD PRESCRIBE TESTOSTERONE SO THAT I COULD START MY MEDICAL TRANSITION. 

I STARTED THERAPY IN NOVEMBER OF 2016 AND GOT MY FIRST DOSE OF TESTOSTERONE IN FEBRUARY OF 2017.

I’M HAPPY TO SAY THAT I AM FOUR YEARS, THREE MONTHS AND 28 DAYS ON T TODAY!

IN APRIL OF THAT SAME YEAR, I WAS HIRED AS THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL COACH AT LCC. THIS WAS COOL BECAUSE MY DAD HAD BEEN THE MEN’S COACH FOR THE LAST 30 YEARS AND WE’D BE COACHING TOGETHER SORT OF. 

SINCE I HAD STARTED TAKING TESTOSTERONE, I THOUGHT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO COME OUT TO MY FAMILY. I JUST KNEW I WAS GOING TO START GROWING A BEARD! 

SO I DID. 

AND LET ME JUST SAY – THAT EVERYBODY DID BETTER THIS TIME AROUND. 

SOME PEOPLE STRUGGLED AND HAVE TAKEN LONGER TO COME AROUND IN THE FAMILY BUT THE DIFFERENCE THIS TIME AROUND – WAS ME. 

IT WAS RIGHT – AND IT WAS HAPPENING. 

LATER THAT YEAR, AS CHANGES CONTINUED TO OCCUR I DECIDED TO COME OUT PUBLICLY IN OUR LOCAL PAPER. 

I DID THIS FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS.

  1. TO CONTROL MY OWN STORY
  2. TO ANSWER EVERYBODY’S QUESTIONS AT ONCE.

BEFORE THE STORY CAME OUT – I SENT A GROUP TEXT TO MY EXTENDED FAMILY LETTING THEM KNOW THAT I WAS TRANS AND WHAT MY PRONOUNS WERE. I ENDED THE TEXT WITH SOMETHING LIKE I LOVE YOU ALL, YOU DON’T HAVE TO UNDERSTAND OR ACCEPT IT BUT IT’D BE GREAT IF YOU DID. 

THAT’S WHERE I WAS AT. 

I ALSO DECIDED THAT I NEEDED TO COME OUT AT WORK. SO I DID THAT IN A TELL-ALL NEWSLETTER ARTICLE THAT THEY PRINTED VERBATIM. 

THIS WAS IN OCTOBER OF 2017 AND I HAD BEEN ON T FOR ABOUT EIGHT MONTHS AND MY CONFIDENCE WAS SOARING BUT THERE WAS STILL SOMETHING HUGE (PUN INTENDED) HOLDING ME BACK.

I GOT MY TOP SURGERY IN NOVEMBER OF 2017 AND THAT HAS CHANGED MY ENTIRE LIFE. IT WAS THE LAST THING I NEEDED TO MAKE THE OUTSIDE FINALLY MATCH WHAT’S BEEN ON THE INSIDE. 

I REMEMBER A FEW DAYS BEFORE MY SURGERY MY MOM CAME OVER AND WAS REALLY WORRIED AND SAID TO ME “WHAT IF YOU REGRET IT?” AND I LOOKED AT HER BEWILDERED AND SAID “REGRET WHAT?” AND SHE SAID “THE SURGERY.” AND I LOOKED AT HER MORE SERIOUSLY THAN I HAVE EVER LOOKED AT ANOTHER PERSON AND SAID “I WILL NEVER REGRET THIS.”

AND I HAVEN’T. 

PART 3: PROUD

WHEN YOU FINALLY REALIZE – THERE ISN’T ANYTHING THAT FITS MORE.

IF YOU’VE FOUND YOUR PERSON IN LIFE – IT’S KIND OF LIKE THAT. 

IT’S BEEN FOUR YEARS AND I’VE CHANGED A LOT. 

PHYSICALLY – FOR SURE. I AM SO HAPPY TO BE ME. PROUD OF MY BODY – HAPPY THAT I CAN WALK AROUND AS THE REFLECTION OF MYSELF I WISH I HAD ALWAYS SEEN BUT WAS ALWAYS THERE.

MY VOICE IS DIFFERENT – THE WAY I WALK IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT – THE WAY I CARRY MYSELF IS DIFFERENT – FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS. IT’S DIFFERENT BEING A BLACK MAN THAN IT IS A WOMAN. THAT’S A FACT – HOW DO I KNOW? I DID IT. 

MENTALLY – I’M DIFFERENT JUST BECAUSE OF MY PERSPECTIVE. I HAD TO LIVE 36 YEARS OF MY LIFE AS A WOMAN. I KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO A CERTAIN EXTENT BUT I AM ALSO WIRED THE WAY I’M WIRED AND SO THE WAY THAT I WAS BEFORE HAS MOLDED INTO WHO I AM NOW. 

SOMETIMES I DESCRIBE IT AS ‘THIS IS HOW I GREW UP’. 

EMOTIONALLY – I TALK ABOUT THIS A LOT ON MY BLOG AND PODCAST BUT BEING ON HORMONES DOES AFFECT YOU EMOTIONALLY. IT’S A ROLLERCOASTER RIDE UNTIL THINGS EVEN OUT – I THINK THAT THE PARTS OF ME THAT WERE AGGRESSIVE JUST FIT NOW BECAUSE IT’S OK TO BE THOSE THINGS AS A GUY, RIGHT? 

SEE, THAT’S A WHOLE OTHER TOPIC. BUT SERIOUSLY, IT’S NOT SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE DO BECAUSE IT’S COOL. THIS IS ABOUT YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE AND IN SOME CASES LIFE AND DEATH. 

THERE IS A LOT TO GO THROUGH, A LOT TO EXPERIENCE, TO FIGURE OUT WHEN YOU’RE TRANSITIONING – AND IT’S HARD AND SOMETIMES ROUGH BUT IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL TO GET TO BE WHO YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE. 

AND THAT’S ONE OF THINGS I’M MOST PROUD OF – THE COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE SUPPORTED ME AND PAVED THE WAY FOR ME TO HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY.

TO SHARE MY STORY IN THE HOPES THAT SOMEBODY ELSE WILL BE OK. OR HAVE THE COURAGE TO LIVE THEIR TRUTH OR TO SEE THAT THEY CAN AND WILL BE OK. 

PRIDE JUST REALLY HITS A LITTLE DIFFERENT FOR ME THESE DAYS. 

I THINK THAT COMES FROM BEING MORE CONNECTED TO MYSELF AND WHO I AM THAN EVER BEFORE – AND THAT BRINGS AN AWARENESS OF THE STRUGGLES OF THOSE BEFORE ME.

IT ISN’T LOST ON ME THAT THE ONLY REASON WHY I CAN HAVE A PODCAST AND BE IN THE NEWSPAPER FOR ANNOUNCING THAT I’M TRANS AND BE HERE TALKING TO YOU IS BECAUSE THE LGBTQ TRAILBLAZERS BEFORE ME PROTESTED AND MARCHED AND FOUGHT.

I KNEW ALL OF THAT BEFORE AND IT MATTERED TO ME BUT NOW IT FEELS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. 

I THINK THE CONNECTION THAT I HAVE TO MYSELF NOW HAS GIVEN ME A DEEPER CONNECTION TO MY COMMUNITY. ONE THAT I VALUE SO MUCH.

THIS IS A COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE THAT NEED AND DESERVE LOVE, SUPPORT AND EQUALITY. EVERYBODY DOES. 

I WAS OK BEFORE; I WAS OK. BUT NOW – I’M GREAT. AND THE REASON IS SIMPLE, I’M ME. AND I’M VERY PROUD OF THAT. 

AS ALLIES OR MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY, I WANT TO SHARE THREE THINGS WITH YOU:

  1. LEAD WITH LOVE – IN ALL THAT YOU DO, IF YOU CAN, LEAD WITH LOVE. LISTEN FIRST. WAIT, RESPOND LATER. IF A PERSON IS COMING OUT TO YOU, IT’S BECAUSE YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO THEM. ARE THEY IMPORTANT TO YOU? 
  2. BEING TRANS ISN’T A FAD – I SAID THIS EARLIER BUT NOBODY DOES THIS TO BE COOL. WHY WOULD I CHOOSE TO POTENTIALLY FACE DISCRIMINATION? WHY WOULD I CHOOSE TO POTENTIALLY BE ABANDONED BY THOSE CLOSEST TO ME? I WOULDN’T. NO TRANS PERSON WOULD. IT’S NOT A THING.
  3. USE YOUR VOICE – I JUST RECENTLY INTERVIEWED AN LGBTQ+ ADVOCATE WHO IS A WHITE GAY MALE. WHETHER HE LIKES IT OR NOT, HE HAS SOME PRIVILEGE AND HE HAS A VOICE IN SOME SPACES SOMETIMES THAT I DON’T. AND YOU MIGHT HAVE A VOICE IN SPACES WHERE I DON’T OR WITH PEOPLE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND AND IT SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU USE IT. TO SPEAK UP AND SPEAK OUT. IT MATTERS.

I’M HAPPY TO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SHARE PART OF MY EXPERIENCE WITH YOU – I HOPE THAT BY SEEING ME IT HELPS YOU TO PUT A FACE, A VOICE AND A STORY BEHIND WHAT BEING TRANSGENDER IS.

BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT TRANS LOOKS LIKE.

THANK YOU – AND I’M HAPPY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE.  

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