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.
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- 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.
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.
- 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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