Today is the last day of March. March 31st is the Transgender Day of Visibility and I am a transgender woman. This month, 10 years ago I began a journey, not of discovery, but one of healing and revealing. I finally had the strength to lay aside the many layers of masks I had collected to hide my true self behind out of fear of being rejected yet again due to my being so very different than who and what I was expected to be by others.

My life has been filled with drama and pain: Rejected in my youth by my father for not being the ‘man’ he required me to be. Ridiculed because: my hair swirls the wrong way, for being too skinny, too effeminate, with a too high pitched voice to be accepted as male. I move, talk and think more like a woman than a man.

I’ve survived conversion therapy inflicted by my father and his baptist co conspirators. As a result, I also survived several suicide attempts from the depression caused by the mistreatment I received in the name of altering my due nature to conform to the beliefs of intolerant people and their misinterpretation of scripture.

The long term stresses of having been born transgender; employment, housing, healthcare and other forms of legal institutionalized discrimination wrecked my health. Now, I’m disabled with a heart condition.

For the transgender community, these are perilous times. Anti-transgender rhetoric is on the rise. Trans women, especially trans women of color are being slaughtered in ever increasing numbers. And, the current political regime is the most hateful this nation has seen in many years.

Yet, with all of the darkness, there is a glimmer of hope. Legislators nationwide are stepping up and making their voices heard in support of those of us who are the most marginalized in modern society today. Modern medical research is for the first time finding and publishing credible evidence to show that we trans folk have been telling the truth all along. Evidence mounts that shows that there is a biological source for our very existence. “We are born this way.”

I’ve made it to 64 years old this month. That’s old for a trans woman of color. I’m witnessing the birth of transgender civil rights as history unfolds. I found out that I’m going to be a great grandmother, twice over.

I am grateful to be alive.

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