As an Afro-Caribbean transplant to the US/Brooklyn at 5 years old, not only did I sound different, I was different. It turns out I was totally feminine and unaware of it. But that changed the very first day of school when the teacher screamed at me, “Can’t you read?! That’s the boy’s bathroom! You go to the girl’s bathroom!” My world was set on fire. By 5th grade, I was fully engulfed in the hateful flames. The constant physical & mental abuse left me unable to trust anyone, including myself. My coming out was more about self-realization first and self-love after that. Only after accomplishing both did I then came out to others as me: a Trans female.
Moving to Manhattan in my late teens was a positive gamechanger for my evolution. I had a wonderful ally and sister in my roommate, who was also in transition. The late, great International Chrysis took us both under her wing, informing us about the world and its ever-changing view of the Trans life and how to negotiate it.
What wasn’t going to be easy was telling my Mom. My “difference” was the very thing that had separated us for most of our lives and made it difficult for us to communicate or connect. I knew I had to be the one to address it, so my roommate and I devised a plan. I would call and start off slowly by saying I was gay then over time work my way up to Trans. Looking back on it now, for a woman who had no understanding of the LGBTQIA community, she took it well and tried her best to understand my journey so much so that she ultimately helped my cousin in his coming out years later! She never turned her back on him and provided a safe place to come into his own. This to me was the ultimate gift and healed myself and my family. Love is love.