I am an fiercely unapologetic woman of trans* experience.
I am an ex-Mormon from Utah who transitioned in her teens after years of undoubted identity and conviction of self.
I am a suicide survivor, a sexual assault survivor, and a survivor in my own right.
My story began the moment I realized my gender did not match what others expected of me on the basis of my assigned gender. This was obvious to me by the age of 3.
The heartache I have overcome and the trials I have endured cannot be matched by my will to live and my need to be real in my own skin. We make many transitions in life that go far beyond transcendence of sex, gender, and identity, such as the transition from shame and stealth to visibility and voice. I worked tirelessly after surviving my eating disorder, being the speculation of my community, my suicide attempt and severe cutting habits, and exiting my outpatient treatment facility to track down inclusive health care.
Miraculously, I found a inclusive clinical social worker who gave me care and there was no going back after that. I developed into a young woman and had life-saving surgery at age 18 thanks to my father’s retirement account and love.
My parents gave me life twice and I will never forget that.
I am a fierce advocate for my community, my self is legitimate, my love is as real as it gets, and my spirit can never be broken. I reject all preconceived notions of my realness; I redefine that for myself and I live it as I see fit. I have an insatiable love of art, culture, food, and fashion. I work primarily in caretaking in my beautiful Oregon town.
I will always be undoubtedly and unapologetically ME.
"My self is legitimate." —Cassandra, on her story on I AM #REDEFININGREALNESS.
I started my social transition as a female about a month ago, and I haven’t been happier.
I’m a senior in an arts high school, and I am lucky to have such a supportive environment where I can be myself. My friends and teachers respect me, my name, and my pronouns, which is something that I do not take for granted.
Things are a bit rough on my dad’s side of the family, but my mother could not be more accepting. She took me to get my eyebrows done the day after I came out!
I am a spoken word poet and I use poetry to express both myself and the changes that I want to see in my community. I have already been given the opportunity to advocate for trans student rights in my school district. Next month, I am speaking at a school board meeting about my experiences as a trans woman in a public high school. I hope to change a few policies!
I am Contessa.
I am affirming, an advocate, thespian, poet, and friend.
I am #RedefiningRealness!
Contessa is serving me everything!
I was born December 1989 in Oklahoma City, the first child my parents had. My parents split up when I was around age 4 and my father raised me until I was 18. During my early childhood, I began to stand out - and not necessarily because I was tall. Nor did I stand out because I was quiet.
I stood out because I was different.
I loved dolls, I loved hanging and playing with the girls, and I was VERY feminine. I slightly recall my parents arguing throughout my childhood, because my father was upset that my mother allowed me to play with girl toys and was supportive of my femininity.
After graduating high school in 2008, I relocated back to Oklahoma City to attend college. This would be the beginning of a new chapter in my life. By age 19, I had already become androgynous and actually celebrated my 19th birthday as a woman. At the time, I lived in a community where I was teased, bullied, harassed, and pointed out. To my advantage, I had cisgender women friends, one who identifies as lesbian, who took me to the gay clubs and allowed me to openly display my femininity. They were actually the first women to help me with hair, make up, and clothes in the very beginning stages of my transition.
I must add that, at that particular time in my life, I did not know I was transgender. I just assumed I was a feminine gay boy. However, about two years later, after networking on an LGBT website for people of color, I discovered the meaning of transgender, after being curious as to what the acronym “T” of LGBT represented.
I recall sitting at the computer in awe - jaw dropped, eyes releasing tears like sprinkles from a water faucet. I was overwhelmed with joy, relief, an answer to that prayer that I prayed almost faithfully as a child. I could be a woman and nothing or no one could stop me. I knew in that moment of revelation that this was what I wanted to do and, since then, my mindset has been as solid as it was on that magical day.
At 21, I flew to the local courthouse with $150 ready to legally file paperwork to have my name changed. At the time I was self-medicating with hormones and, although I wasn’t doing things by the book, I was happy. I knew I was on the road to becoming my true self. I was blossoming almost flawlessly, totally unaware of the hurdles ahead of me. I had no clue that family members would misgender me purposely. I had no clue that people would value their religious beliefs to the point where they were willing to sacrifice their relationships with me. I had no clue that “best friends” of years would disown me, disapprove and secretly hate me for making one of the most liberating decisions of my life. No one prepared me for the rejection, depression, isolation, fear, and hurt that I’ve had to experience over the last few years of my life.
Although I’ve experienced my hardships, I am coming to learn how beautiful and amazing this journey is. This is not just a physical journey. This is a spiritual journey as well. I didn’t choose this life. This life chose me and I respectfully accept the challenges that lie ahead of me.
I am more than my gender, more than my body. There is nothing fake about me, because I’m not a fake person. I didn’t “choose” to be a transgender woman; I naturally and unintentionally chose to decline the male stereotypes and expectations that were expected of me. If anything, I chose to be honest and truthful with myself and the world around me.
I am brown. I am bold. I am beautiful. I am #RedefiningRealness.
"I am more than my gender, more than my body. There is nothing fake about me, because I’m not a fake person." — Sasha
After reading Janet Mock’s book, #RedefiningRealness, I realized I still had areas of my life that needed redefining. I have a successful career that seems to only be getting better; I’m blessed to help other transwomen re-discover their value in the workplace and redefine success for themselves. My love life, however, is so un-encouraging. From the age of 19, when I had a crush on an Italian heartthrob named Savino, to 2013 even, I experienced a string of let-downs.
I’ve attracted the type of men I’ve always seen myself dating, yet ultimately knew that the relationship was going to end and that it would be “the first of a long line of romantic rejections.” I learned a lot more than I expected around issues of disclosure reading Janet’s book. Like Janet, I too have the privilege of passing, but have ultimately felt the need to out myself very early on in meeting someone. Doing so has either abruptly ended the experience, or taken our conversation hostage - everything we talked about would be intimately related to the fact that I’m a girl with a penis. Guys who presented themselves as gentlemen and relationship-ready turned into curious creeps who asked questions they would never ask a cisgender woman so early on. Emails and text messages asking, “How big is it?”, “Are you versatile?”, “Will you dominate me?”
These were men who lied to me about their intentions just to try to sleep with me. At that point, such a man no longer sees me; he no longer sees the woman who is passionate about her career and helping others; he doesn’t see the woman who plays two instruments, or has an insatiable appetite for non-fiction. He sees a chick with a dick: his personal Internet fantasy. Since reading Redefining Realness, I have taken down all of my disclosures on my dating profiles and decided to just allow the right guy to get to know me for me. It has made a WORLD of difference.
Even something as simple as waiting a few emails, text messages, or phone calls sets a better tone for him respecting me for who I am. By the time he realizes just how amazing of a woman I am, the gentleman inside himself won’t allow him to degrade or disrespect me, even if he decides that I am not the type of woman for him. I owe this ah-ha moment to Janet Mock and Redefining Realness.
Disclosure is ours and ours alone.
My name is Lily Alice Kaitlyn Luck. I spent a large part of the first 25 years of my life figuring out who I am. I knew two things for sure: I love being able to connect with people through music and that I was female born into the wrong body. These two seemingly unrelated facts became intrinsically linked as music became my way to cope and to connect. My way to express what I was going through and the emotions I felt. Even if people didn’t understand my journey, I shared my music in the hope that they would recognize the feelings and connect with what I wrote.
People definitely connected. Through my various projects, I’ve been featured on BBC Radio, I’ve had my music played on more than 250 FM stations around the world, I’ve done official remixes for Ministry (Everyday is Halloween – Hypnotic, 2011), Trapt (Headstrong – Hypnotic Records, 2011), Gaudi (Bad Boy Bass – 6 Degrees, 2010) and Pink Floyd (Us and Them – Hypnotic Records, 2012), I had a Beatport No.1 (Illesha – Only Fair Unsub Remix – Simplify, 2011) and I had ARIA Dance Charting tracks (Heartstrings – Klub Kids, 2011). I’ve even been featured on MTV (Gen Bass Presents: Transnational Dubstep). Most recently, I was featured as one of Beatport’s 2013 Artists to Watch. So, basically, music is my life.
I first made music as Alexis K but, when I started going through gender transition, I was open and honest about it with my fans. Because of this, I was harassed, stopped from playing, dropped from labels, and even blacklisted from blogs and events.
I started the annonymous project called Unsub in late 2010 to protect myself and keep being able to do what I love. Unsub took all that negativity and redirected it towards music.
But, I realized that I shouldn’t need to change or hide who I am in order to follow my passions and achieve my dreams. My debut album, released in November last year, was the creative embodiment of that process. The merging of my past and my future into alignment. It is the essence of the story I am telling the world, that I am free to be me.
I’m taking that story on the road and connecting with a larger and more progressive audience, in defiance of those who don’t want me to succeed purely on the basis of the differences I represent. I’m showing people that we don’t have to hide who we are just because we are different. That we won’t be stopped by hate. That just because I was born different doesn’t mean I can’t achieve my dreams. Above all else, I’m making people dance all across the world. After all, a revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having <3.
“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” - Jean-Paul Sartre
"Today, on this International Women’s Day, I celebrate and bow to the women writers who dared to be seen, who dared to be heard, who dared to define their lives for themselves. Without you, I would not and could not exist as a young woman of color writer, adding my voice to the collective chorus singing the experience of marginalized womanhood. I am deeply humbled to be a part of this legacy.” —from my new essay celebrating Womens History Month through the words and works of women of color writers
Can’t make Tuesday’s convo w/ me + @LaverneCox at my alma mater NYU? Watch live online! RSVP: http://ow.ly/ujp99
Transgender activist Janet Mock speaks to Dr Brooke Magnanti about the media sensationalising trans women and her past as a sex worker
An interview I did with fellow former sex worker and writer Brooke Magnanti to promote Redefining Realness's upcoming release in the UK.