Alejandro Santiago Lord; Building A Legacy of Service…One Act At A Time

By Sabrina Samone

I was recently asked in an interview for TMP’s, Spring4Unity partner Point5cc.com, “What Does My Identity Means To Me?” Loving yourself is only the beginning, I feel as a transgender person. Accepting yourself is the goal, and ultimately the key to fully grasping your identity. One man who does it with suave de vie is, Alejandro Santiago Lord. A confident identity that is not only helpful, but necessary for a man in a man’s world. Before my sisters get angry, true, a confident identity is helpful and necessary for we women as well, but for a man it is almost required or demanded. Especially, if that man is a man of color.

He is an advocate for the visibility of trans-men of color, and therefore all trans-men. Not until all groups are equally represented will we be able to show the world, the true mosaic beauty of transgender society. A liaison for the Georgia chapter of Black Trans-Men Inc.,he is adding to that visibility locally, and injecting positive images of trans-men of color into everyday society. The vision of Black Trans-Men Inc¹., is to build an organization that secures a quality reputation that is socially responsible and economically beneficial within the transgender community and our greater society. To remain the indispensable source that brings together people who both need and provide reliable resources that support a healthy identity and to educate and inspire a social movement that secures human rights, nurtures the human experience and uplifts the soul.

Through his work with My Brother’s Keeper,² he is also an advocate for health care for our minority group. By promoting a healthier transition, monitored by licensed physician, he is also a leading voice in quality health care for transgender society.

Between his work with the homeless, youth, and advocating for trans-men everywhere, I thought it best to grab him for quick TMP ten question interview. This is one Trans Face you’d want to bookmark.

TMP: What do you think we can do as a community to better represent trans-men of color?

Alejandro Santiago Lord:  I really believe it is up to us to represent ourselves. In representing yourself positively the community is drawn to you.

2. TMP: What has it meant to you to live your authentic identity and express that amongst loved ones?

A.S.L.: It means everything to me. Imagine living your life inside of a cocoon, that’s what it felt like. I felt trapped in someone else’s body,  and someone else’s way of thinking. Once I made the choice to live my true identity my life has made a turn for the better. It was very important to me that I express to my loved ones how I felt. I really wanted them to accept me, but had decided that I would live my truth regardless. It took a while but they finally get it.

3. TMP: What specifically, is your role with the Georgia chapter of Black Trans-men Inc.?

A.S.L.: I am the community liaison for the GA chapter. My role is designed to make trans men visible in the community. We have been invited to participate in several community activities due to our recent visibility. I spoke a few weeks back at the Atlanta Film Festival which  has opened the door to more speaking engagements across the country. My hope is that the Georgia chapter of Black Trans-men will be known all over the world. Like I stated in the first question, I feel like it is our responsibility to let the community know that we are here.

4. TMP: Explain to our readers who aren’t familiar with Black Trans-men Inc., what is the role of the organization, and who can be apart of the organization?

     A.S.L.: Black Trans-men Inc.®, is the 1st National Non-Profit Organization of African-American trans men, solely focused on acknowledgment, social advocacy, and empowering trans men with resources to aid in a healthy female to male transition. Black Trans-men Inc. programs provide, all female to male trans men, and SLGBTQI individuals, with necessary tools to secure identity and equality within our society regardless of race, creed, color, religion, sexual identity, or sexual expression. Although it is geared towards African-American trans men, no one is ever turned away.

5. TMP: Share with the TMP reader why it is important for visibility of trans-men of color?³

A.S.L.: I believe it is very important especially in the trans community. I have met so many trans women who don’t even know we exist. I believe that we blend into society so well that unless we announce we are trans no one will ever know. It is important however that society understands that we are here. I choose personally to be visible so that the new generation have someone they can look to for help. I didn’t have that.

6.  TMP: What is My Brother’s Keeper?

A.S.L.: My Brother’s Keeper is a non-profit organization designed initially to help trans identified individuals with the necessary funds to go the annual conference in Dallas every May, but the need was far greater than what we envisioned. We give away binders for those who are waiting for top surgery, we provide the funds for prescriptions, lab work and doctors appointments. We found that the lack of finances tend to have trans identified individuals seeking hormones through black market. We want to deter that way of thinking.

7.   TMP: What are some of the things you’ve accomplished through My Brother’s Keeper, that you are most proud of?

A.S.L.: We have given out over 300 binders, provided over 75 prescriptions and provided well over 100 with necessary medical services. I will not be happy until we are financially able to provide at least one scholarship a year for top surgery.

8. TMP: What are your views of black market prescriptions in trans society, and why is it important that trans people seek medical care in your opinion?

    A.S.L.:  I absolutely hate that black market prescriptions even exist. I understand the desire to have hormones, but if being on them ends your life then what is the point. Having the necessary lab work to find out the proper dosage is essential. Being monitored by a licensed physician is key to leading a productive life while on hormone therapy. I for one had a lab test come back where my cholesterol was extremely high. If I hadn’t had my routine blood work done and been advised by my physician on what to do I could have had a heart attack or stroke. I do understand that it may be financially difficult for most, but that is what My Brother’s Keeper, Black Trans-men Inc. and other organizations are here for.

9.  TMP: Tell our TMP readers about the ‘I Am Human’ campaign, and how can we be more supportive of it?

A.S.L.: The I Am Human Campaign was founded by my brother Ariq Barrett in Philadelphia, Pa. In his words “the I AM HUMAN campaign which is a worldwide campaign that is not exclusive to any one group or community but is inclusive of everyone. Especially those who have experienced being mistreated or not accepted in society because of race, gender, sexual preference, social class or any type of injustice.” I was so moved by his work with feeding the homeless that I started the I Am Human Atlanta, where we take to the streets of downtown where the homeless population seems to be growing. It is the goal that this campaign is one day worldwide.

10. TMP: I like to ask, if you could tell the world something about Alejandro Santiago Lord, and you knew everyone would listen, what would you like them to know about you?

A.S.L.: I am a simple guy with a big heart. I thank my mother for teaching me at a young age that what you are given in this world is not yours to keep but to put back into the atmosphere. I
truly believe in service. I am on an ultimate high when I see my work manifested in others. The smile on a homeless persons face when you shake their hand. The look of hope in their eyes when you listen to their story. I have found my calling and that is in the service of others. When I leave this world I would hope my legacy would be one of service. I would want them to say that guy cared and he walked into his destiny leaving behind hope for those he left behind.

Now what an advocate we have in Alejandro Santiago Lord. As I often say, “Inspire, to be inspired”, and that is exactly what he has done for this woman. He is an example, that doing something good for our community can never be underestimated or taken for granted. Though, trying at times, moments like this, meeting interesting trans sisters and brothers, if only online at first, can be inspiring to us all, to continue the fight. Every hand is needed and required in this struggle.

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. Black Trans-men Inc. ® is the 1st National Non-Profit Organization of African-American trans men solely focused on acknowledgment, social advocacy and empowering trans men with resources to aid in a healthy female to male transition. Black Trans-men Inc. programs provide all female to male trans men and SLGBTQI individuals with necessary tools to secure identity and equality within our society regardless of race, creed, color, religion, sexual identity or sexual expression.
  2. I Am My Brother’s Keeper is a group for trans people and allies. The group focuses  on raising funds and providing scholarships to help t-men and t-masculine people in particular, including scripts, binders, packers,help providing funding to attend the annual BTMI conferences in the spring.
  3. Trans men of color receive less than a percent of the limited visibility there already is for transgender people in the media. Many trans men of color are  amongst some of the leading voices, and influences in trans advocacy.
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Riley Knoxx

 Is it Beyoncé? She maybe one of the most sought after Beyoncé impersonators, Riley Knox. Beyoncé maybe the hardest working woman in show business but her look a like is the hardest working Trans woman in entertainment. With the release of her calendar; to raise money for disadvantaged Transgender youth in and around D.C., she is proving she’s more than a performer, but an advocate for youth growing up in a dysphoric world. Ironically I get to say this sister is really family, she is my biological 2nd cousin and an inspiration to many.

Riley Knoxx is a Greater D.C. gender illusionist, known as the top Beyoncé impersonator as well as the co-host of web series talk show “We Speak The Talk Show” and an area activist of positive role models within the trans* with the sales of her 2015 calendar going to the area trans youth programs.

Riley Knox as one of the Most Influential People on our ‘TransMusePlanet’s annual Top 20 Most Influential Trans-People of 2014’  #20

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO NOMINATE A ROLE MODEL, PLEASE DO AS A FORUM TOPIC ON

 THE TMP FORUM

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Two Teens Admit to Targeting Trans Activist in a Recent Attack in Texas

A second suspect in an attack on a transgender woman last week admitted to Austin police that he targeted the victim because of her gender identity, according to court papers filed Monday.

Rayshad Deloach, 17, and his brother, Raymond, have both been accused of carjacking and mugging Stephanie Martinez¹, an Austin transgender activist.

“Rayshad admitted that he attacked Martinez because she was transgender,” police officers wrote in his arrest affidavit.

In his statement to the police, Rayshad Deloach confirmed the details of the Thursday afternoon attack that Martinez relayed to the police, including punching her several times in the face and picking up a log as if to use it to bash her head.

Just a day after the attack, Martinez testified before state lawmakers at the Capitol as they debated the so-called bathroom bills², laws that would restrict local governments and school districts from implementing transgender-friendly bathroom policies.

The measure is one of the most contentious being debated during the Legislature’s special session.

“This bill is not about safety, this bill is not about bathrooms,” Martinez told a committee of state senators, which backed the legislation after hours of testimony that went largely against the measure. “This bill is about limiting my ability to navigate public life.”

Following North Carolina’s lead, Texas Republicans in January unveiled the so-called “bathroom bill” to regulate bathroom use and keep transgender Texans from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 6, one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s legislative priorities, would have required transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on “biological sex.” The measure would also pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The ripple effects of such hate inspired legislation, has made the lives of many trans people in the state less safe³. When a politician tells his constituents, that the lives of trans people are debatable, and legally ok to be ridiculed, attacks like these happen. Rayshad, and Raymond Deloach should be charged with a hate crime, but they are not the only ones. The state Republicans, pushing these hate bills, are also responsible for this, and every attack, on every trans person in the state of Texas.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. Stephanie Martinez, is an activist with the Transgender Education Network of Texas. She was able to attend the senate hearing on anti-transgender legislation Friday and speak out against SB3 ad SB99. She listens to he Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, the ACLU of Texas, the Texas Freedom Network and the Transgender Education Network of Texas gather in the outdoor rotunda of the Texas Capitol extension Friday afternoon to propose anti-transgender legislation bills SB 3 and SB99 at the Texas Capitol July 21, 2017.
  2. Senate Bill 3, a so-called “bathroom bill,” would regulate public school facilities, open-enrollment charter school facilities, and local government restrooms to be “used only by persons of the same sex as stated on a person’s birth certificate.” It will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.
  3. “A Matter of Life and Death” brings to light the stories of the at least 21 trans people who have been murdered since the beginning of this year, and it estimates there have been at least 74 murders of transgender people since 2013.
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Ryan Cassata: One World…One Love…One Community

Revised and Updated from original transmuseplanet post July, 2017

In 2009, Ryan Cassata began making headlines in the LGBTQ community when he appeared on the Larry King show, and interviewed by Dr. Drew. The young musician and public speaker had recently begun telling his story of gender identity disorder. Ryan is extremely vocal against bullying.¹ He began touring the United States, playing at LGBT Pride music festivals.  On June 21st of 2013, Ryan performed at the Warped Tour’s Ernie Ball’s Battle of the Bands, which was part of an online competition.

It was during the competition for the ‘Battle of the Bands’, where fans had to vote for those chosen to play in the acclaimed tour, that I was introduced to Ryan Cassata.  I read his story, his views on being a transgender teen in America, and then listened to his music. After hearing the first song, I quickly had to backspace and cast my vote for this outspoken John Lennon of our genderation. I went back to hearing more of his songs on his You Tube page,² and knew immediately, I had to have a chat with this revolutionary in our community.  

To this day, when I hear his song ‘Hands of Hate’, sung with such passion, I can’t help but be boiled over in tears by the end. You can feel his pain, that has resulted from his experiences with hate. Reminding many of us that have tried to forget those turbulent years of high school bullying, that the struggle for lgtqia youth, sadly persist more than ever.  Recalling to mind,  those fallen angels like Leelah Alcorn, who decided to end the pain rather than endure anymore bullying. 

RyanCassata.com

Once introduced to his story, you can’t help but be inspired by his drive, and determination. That passion, triggered by his own stories of bullying, and struggles with gender identity. His desire for a world of one love, filled with unity can only rekindle that inner child in us all, that still strives to see a world of justice, peace, and love for all.

The momentum behind Ryan Cassata, his music, and mission, is contagious and growing.  His fans are now in the hundreds of thousands around the world. He has become a brand;  launching his own clothing line, respected advocate and role model for countless youth.  Spreading a message of peace, respect and one world love for all mankind.

This is one fascinating young man we have to get to know.

TMP:  Ryan, you have done so many positive things in the world at such a young age. What drives you to want to make a difference in the world?

Ryan Cassata: Thank you.  There is so much ignorance and hatred that can be cured with tolerance. There’s a lot of hate towards the LGBTQ community. I think it would be crazy if I just sat back and let all that hate continue. The time is now to stand up and get things moving towards equality and a better future.
  

TMP: When you were just out of high school, at a time when most Cis-kids are just thinking about enjoying their summer before college, you were being awarded the Harvey Milk Memorial Award in 2011.³  What did such an honor mean to you, and what advice would you give to other Trans-kids who are fighting for equality?

Ryan Cassata: Thank you. When I first started changing things in my high school, I was changing things in order to make things easier for myself. I had to change certain things so that I could survive high school. I skipped 11th grade; during my senior year, I made it my mission to educate my peers and teachers, so they could pass on the message of acceptance. I wanted  my school to accept transgender students by the time I ended school. I knew that if I worked really hard, I could make a difference and make it so much easier for someone else whose transgender that would come along and walk the hallways of my school after me. I did make it easier and I won the Harvey Milk Memorial Award upon graduating high school. This was very symbolic;  I was following in his footsteps and doing good in the world. I started doing a lot of volunteer work in the eighth grade. My advice to other people who want to make a difference is to get involved. Volunteer at your local center and if you don’t have one or can’t volunteer for them, then speak out at your school. I used do speeches for the Long Island center and I also did speeches and educating within and outside of my school…on my own. It became my mission as a young teen to change things and I did.

TMP: I’ve been listening to your music for weeks since we first spoke, and I have to say there is not a song that isn’t inspiring, and makes me hopeful about the world. It’s often hard for a Trans-person to stay so hopeful about things, faced with so much discrimination and hate. How do you turn pain into hope, and make such inspiring music?

Ryan Cassata: I always try to find the good in things and in people. I think everyone has a little bit of good and a little bit of love in their heart. I think with education it is easier to make people understand minorities. When you change your perspective to hope, life will be much more positive.

TMP: When did you start performing and writing music?

Ryan Cassata:  I was singing and making up songs all though out my childhood.  I started actually like, writing music down on a piece of paper and playing it again later when I was about 12. I started guitar at 6 years old, piano at 12, and I started singing seriously at 14.

 I had my first performance when I was about 13. My first band was  called “The Fenetiks.” When that band broke up, I started playing out solo and I loved it.

TMP:  With your many television appearances and interviews for main stream media, is there one that stands out as being the most positive moment for you, whose show and why?

Ryan Cassata: One of my favorite media moments was being interviewed by Long Island Pulse Magazine. They were so open to being educated about the transgender community and they actually cared about what I was doing,my speeches and my music. They didn’t make a being Trans*, a ‘freak show.’  They treated me as a normal person and they wrote an incredible article about me. It’s my favorite so far.

TMP: Your revolutionary spirit is very contagious, but many are bogged down in just trying to survive. Any suggestions on things we all could do in our everyday lives that could make a difference towards spreading universal respect, and equality?

Ryan Cassata: Smile more. Smile at strangers. Go out and do good. Volunteer. Be nice to others.

TMP: What are your hopes and dreams for the Transgender community, and for all of mankind?

Ryan Cassata: I hope the community will become less depressed, and that the suicide rate will decline. I want the transgender community to be seen as another group of people and not a taboo. I want society to accept us.

TMP: You seem to have so many projects going on at the moment. Anything in particular you’d really like the readers of Transmuseplanet to check out, that you are currently working on?

Ryan Cassata: Right now I am working on starting a chest binder fundraiser to raise money for ‘IN A BIND’.   More info about this will be released soon.

TMP:  Could you tell us about your latest EP?

Ryan Cassata: My upcoming EP will be released on September 13th on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. It has eight songs. It’s a very deep album and I am hoping many people will listen and learn from it.

TMP:   Since your touring all over the country, what is your assessment of the level of understanding and support for the Transgender Community in your travels?

 Ryan Cassata: So far, San Francisco is the most tolerant and accepting place that I have been too. I feel safe here. I don’t feel safe on the east coast or in my hometown.

TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world, and knew everyone would hear you at once. What would you like them to know about Ryan Cassata?

Ryan Cassata: I want to change the way society thinks, to be more accepting of the LGBTQ community and to other minorities. I will do anything to spread awareness about this and make peace come sooner.

Courtesy of Ryan Cassata’s 2016 EP Shine

Ryan Cassata is definitely a man on a mission to uplift mankind. He is not only an inspiration but an example of the next genderation of trans activist. He is a reminder of what we all fight for; the day all lgbtqia youth can envision a future of  simply enjoying school, planning for college, and a life afterwards without fear. 

To change the world,  maybe is what every young soul sets out to do, but his story can also be an inspiration to old souls, that we still can.

Anne Frank once said, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”  Ryan, and the drive of many trans youth gives us hope, that one day we can see that good in the world.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM


  1. Transgender students face much higher levels of harassment and
    violence than LGB students. And these high levels of victimization
    result in these students missing more school, receiving lower grades and feeling isolated and not part of the school community according to the study The Experiences of Transgender Youth in Our Nation’s Schools‘  by GLSEN.org and written by Emily A. Greytak, M.S.Ed., Joseph G. Kosciw, and  Ph.D.Elizabeth M. Diaz
  2. Ryan Cassata’s You Tube Channel                   
  3. Harvey Milk Foundation:  Harvey Milk Foundation works for equality in the Americas, and around the globe.            

 

 

 

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