I was fortunate enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area when I came out as trans and gender non-binary, so there was plenty of community and plenty of understanding in my social circles. At my work, there was never a question of my colleagues and friends not accepting my new name and pronouns. But all of that changed once I moved back to Southern California.
I lived in Orange County for a number of years and even came out as queer there, so this wasn’t my first rodeo with The Orange Curtain. At one point, I was unemployed and seeking work, which caused me to go back into the closet. I felt less employable dressed as a butch woman than I did a woman in heels. My suspicions were verified by countless interviews. A former colleague of mine once told me that he didn’t “believe in the gays or the transgenders.” I left the job (and the closet) for good shortly after.
This time around, my partner and I moved to Fullerton to be closer to both of our families and so my partner could go to school at Cal State Fullerton. Going into this, I knew that being trans in SoCal was going to be very different than being trans in NorCal, but I was never quite sure how different.
I was lucky enough to land an amazing job at Mental Health America of Los Angeles TAY Academy as a program manager. Being out and about in the community put me at a greater risk for harassment. At the corner nearest to my job, I am regularly catcalled, called a “he-she,” or a called a hermaphrodite. Worst of all are the stares, which I get most places in SoCal. Unfortunately, I even get stares within the queer community.
It’s because of my many oddities that it is necessary for me to be my authentic self and be counted among the many LGBTQ+ Americans. If I can make a connection with a smile and an introduction, I’ve made the world slightly easier for the trans people after me. I especially hope that my visibility can pave the way for the most vulnerable in our community: trans women of color. That is why being visible and counted is so important to me.