Just as Pride festivities culminated at the end of last month, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which deemed same-sex marriage prohibited, was unconstitutional under the equal liberty to all under the Fifth Amendment. The victory was a long-awaited moment, and millions of LGBT Americans and their international brothers and sisters celebrated at record-breaking Pride events. Following protection under human rights ordinances, a growing positive media view, and prevailing attitudes of ‘people accepting differences’, lesbian, gay and bisexual communities have become a people demanding respect, and common rights afforded to all. Transgender individuals, on the other hand, have much more opposition preventing them from the access to the quality of life all citizens deserve.
I arrived in South Florida by way of Greyhound, in February of 2005. My way here had been interesting and turbulent, with my path twisting and straightening at differing times. I was well into my transition that was started in Manhattan, New York in my late teens. Discovering that I was a person with what we now classify as gender dysphoria, I immediately took to all the Big Apple had to offer. I went through the required psychotherapy sessions to start receiving my hormones through a LGBT community center in Chelsea (Callen-Lorde). I attended community programs at group meetings, learning from the city’s gender-queer on topics as gender rights, medical services, safer drug use and making it as a trans-woman in New York. In the seedier side of the city, I was engulfed into the then-thrilling world of stripping and prostitution. Eventually, I found a balance and settled into life at a prominent non-profit organization based in Manhattan.
I am a transwoman, although for many of my early years I had no idea what to call myself, much less understood the lives of people worldwide that identify outside of the ‘traditional’ gender categories of male and female. During the late 90’s here in the United States, the only exposure I received of gender discordant individuals consisted of the sensationalism promoted on Jerry Springer, and the growing popularity of RuPaul. Those two examples had no influence on my personal identity, for I wanted to be nothing like the Springer-personalities, and shied away from the performance art of RuPaul. My journey into young adulthood exposed myself to varying displays of gender identity, giving me a much-needed education that helped me figure out who I am. Easily confusing, I want to share my acquired knowledge to those looking for information on the subject of being transgender.