Dezjorn Gauthier

From male model, advocate, a member of the American Bar Association, CEO and founder of the upcoming Trans culture magazine ‘Black T’, Dezjorn Gauthier is proving that Trans men are more than a handsome face, and chiseled body. Along with those qualities, one can be an outstanding advocate, businessman, and supporter of his community.

With his mid-western work ethics, he has directed that energy towards the advancement and visibility of trans men of color. An advocate on behalf of all Trans people, he has worked diligently to help improve the lives of  Trans men. He has continuously taken on the daunting task, of improving the much needed awareness, and visibility of Trans men of color.

Our warriors of African, Latin, and Asian descent, are far too often placed on the back burner of visibility, even in our own community. It is due to this struggle that he has recently responded to the call of Trans people of color around the world, in creating ‘Black T Magazine’. A magazine that is sure to greatly further the much needed representation of  Trans people of color. This fight to level the playing field of representation within our community, and to foster unity among us, is why Dezjorn Gauthier is TMP’s Role Model for the month of February.

The 25 year old is a Milwaukee, WI native, and started his transition in April 2014 just shortly after he had appeared in the well known Barneys New York ad campaign. It also featured well known Trans personalities like Laith Ashley, Katie Hill, and Arin Andrews. The ad campaign was in some ways his coming out, as his first work as a Trans man. He first started modeling at the ripe old age of six months old, for top children’s brands around the nation, and has won several national titles. He was also, part of the first modeling agency for Transgender people.
 

While serving as Student Ambassador, he was also being featured internationally in many articles and modeling shoots. In 2016,  Dezjorn was featured in the series ‘America in Transition’, by Andre Perez. As a model he also earned his degree in Criminology, Law Studies, and Sociology from Marquette University in 2013. He earned his paralegal diploma, and member of the American Bar Association, while attending Washington University School of Law. At his home in Milwaukee, he teaches a high school level law course, allowing students to learn more about the justice system, United States Constitution, and understand policies.

Even while furthering his education, modeling, advocating for Trans men; he has also started his own business, to effectively bring awareness to the transgender community, with special focus on Trans males and Trans men of color; through education, empowerment and inspiration. His business hosts an annual surgery fund, laptop scholarship, FtM essentials donation programs and mentoring. Gauthier, is also the founder of ‘The Dorothy J. Carr Fund’, and has worked as the V.P.  of  ‘Point Of Pride‘. His latest creation, ‘Black T Magazine’, is destined to change the landscape among representation  for Trans people of color; show the diversity in our community, unite and inspire young Trans men of color around the world that their lives matter, and are valid.

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Neo L. Sandja

Neo Sandja is an author, speaker, business consultant and certified life coach. He’s the founder of the first international bodybuilding competition for people of Trans experience, and featured on major media outlets like, Al Jazeera America and CNN. His business, FTM Fitness World, along with its affiliated annual conference #transfitCon, focuses on empowering the Trans community in all 5 core areas of their lives: Spirituality, Personal Growth, Fitness/Wellness Health, Finances, and Family/Relationships through the motto ‘Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit.’
 
His book, ‘Right Mind, Wrong Body’, was written for people who are looking for more happiness, peace, and fulfillment in their journey. Based on the lessons he himself learned through his transition.
 
 

 

 

 

He is also the chair of the FTM foundation, which he created to help Trans-identified people with their transitional needs. Partial proceeds of the book ‘Right Mind Wrong Body’, is going directly into the surgery fun.
 
Neo considers himself, a spiritual warrior and a transformational trainer. He defines being a spiritual warrior, as someone who knows themselves and conquers their deepest fears, and limitations. Transformational trainer’s, are trainers who change people’s lives from the inside out, by giving them the tools to create permanent change for success.
As a speaker he is very passionate about business, financial and emotional intelligence, as well asspirituality and communication.

He migrated to the U.S., from the Republic of Congo in 2004, and began his transition in 2011. His life’s mission he states, “Transform people’s lives through his writing, speaking engagements, personal life coaching, and mentoring, but most importantly through his personal day to day interactions.”

 Neo Sandja is an example of the masculine leadership that is leading our community into the future. He, along with countless men, have become more visible over the past few years,  in a weary movement that needed rejuvenation. Yet, he is among those talented Trans men of color whose work often is over shadowed, and goes unnoticed by the majority within our community. Let’s stand united, with our brothers, regardless of race, religion or nationality. We share at least one thing, and it is the greatest thing that bonds us all; the desire to live an authentic life against all odds. TMP salutes our brother Neo Sandja for the work he has done and continue to do, that enhances the lives of all Trans people.

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Tony Zosherafatain: The Man Behind The Film…”I Am The T”

By Sabrina Samone

In every generation a story must be told, it is often up the storytellers to speak for the countless voices of our world. In our generation those story tellers are often film makers: the writers, producers, directors, and actors that bring a story to life. This post Academy Award interview is of a man that does just that, bringing voices to the countless unseen, unheard, trans men from around the globe. He is a voice for trans men of color, an often more unheard voice in our community.

Tony Zosherafatain is a man like many with a duality of spirit¹, but he is also Greek/Iranian. A duality of race that also gives him a unique perspective on what it means to be a trans man of color. Even in his upcoming documentary series, Tony will be featuring trans men from ten various countries and cultures. Cultures that are usually overshadowed by American and Western European countries. As in his life from working with those with disabilities, and a nurse practitioner student, he is the champion of the unheard voices of our society.

I am the T: an FTM documentary“, chronicles the lives and transitions of trans men in ten different countries. Production began in November 2014 in Norway, and will continue in the following countries: Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, Lesotho, Germany, the Phillipines, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Australia. Individual country segments will be released independently. The full-feature release date is scheduled for 2018.
 
The first segment was filmed in November 2014 in Norway, and features the story of Isak, a 28 year old trans man who had recently began transitioning. Isak’s story (screened at this workshop) portrays both the challenges he faces as an FTM, and the triumphs over adversity that characterize finding one’s gender and broader self. ” I am the T” plans to grow into a documentary series that chronicles the stories of hundreds of trans* identified people around the world. The mission of “I am the T” is to shift the tide of trans representation in the media to one that is more subjective and culturally-inclusive. 

TMP: You’ve previously mentioned that your reasons, four years ago, to do the documentary film “I am the T” was that you’ve noticed the lacking of trans men in media. Why do you feel personally that was the case compared to trans women? 
Tony Zosherafatain: At the time that I created the idea for the documentary, trans representation was severely lacking; trans stories were not a media priority. As a trans man who was not yet out, I couldn’t find images of trans masculine people to help me realize who I was. Since 2010, we’ve had the emergence of trans women of color such as Laverne Cox and Janet mock in the media, which has helped the trans community move forward. I think representations of trans men in the media have lagged behind, for a variety of reasons. One reason is because many trans men may want to live as stealth. I think another reason is due to male privilege. For many of us, it may be easier to be accepted into society because we are transitioning into the gender that controls society. I think the media also finds it hard to grasp trans male stories because traditionally, being trans has been associated with MTFs, and with good reason given that it was trans women who spurred the LGBT movement at stonewall.
TMP: In your opinion, how has that changed, and has it changed fast enough?
Tony Z.: I think that media representation of trans men has changed, but at a slow pace. For example, the only trans male on TV used to be Max from the L word, which was a horrible representation of the FTM experience. Since then, we’ve had a trans male character played on Transparent, and better films featuring trans men. However, trans male representations are not fully inclusive. In the MTF community, there are trans woman of color who are spearheading the movement, but for FTMs, we are only mostly seeing white trans men being represented. The FTM community needs to share the power of representation with trans men who are of color, disabled, feminine, queer, and those who can’t/don’t want to medically transition. In this way, I think the media will realize that there is much more to our identities; that we are as complex as any other human population.
TMP: Who is your partner in the project and how important is it that we recruit more trans men of color in film?
T.Z.: From the beginning, it was important that I recruited trans people for this documentary. As a trans man of color myself (half-Iranian)³, I wanted to recruit as many other under-represented trans men as possible given that a lot of films about our community are directed by cisgender people. Right now, I have a videographer and editor named Aiden, who is half-Mexican and half-black. I also have an editor and production assistant who is a first-generation American trans man. Another team member, our Graphic Designer, is a trans man who hails from Malaysia. We also have a cisgender production advisor who helps us gain perspective so that we can portray FTM stories in a way that changes the way cisgender people view trans masculine stories. I think it’s very important to see more trans men of color in our community. Trans men of color aren’t being prioritized for representation projects, which is a disservice. I think increasing the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of trans male representation will inevitably lead our community forward. It’s powerful to see a trans man from an oppressed minority thriving. That sends a message of hope to trans youth of color.

TMP:  Tell our TMP readers if you will, what was your motivation behind creating this documentary? Why specifically did you choose to show a variation of cultures in this film?

T.Z.:  The motivation behind creating this documentary is rooted in my experience as a first-generation American trans man. Neither of my parents were born in the U.S.-my dad is from Iran and my mom is from Greece. When I began transitioning, it was even more difficult to find trans men from my specific cultural heritage. If we can show a variation of trans men from different cultures, it will send a powerful message: that the trans experience is universal. I think that creating a diversity of representations in the FTM community can only serve to reassure trans men from these backgrounds that they exist and that they are worthy of visibility.  

TMP: How many nations are represented in the complete series?

T.Z.:  There will be a total of ten countries represented. Because of time constraints, we will most likely create a two part documentary series. Each part will include five countries so that we can give each participant’s story adequate coverage.

TMP: Through this journey, what lessons have you learned about trans-society and the various cultures involved?

T.Z.:  I’ve learned more than I ever would have imagined. The first is that many cultures that we deem “discriminatory” against trans people are actually more complex. For example, I dug into my own background, found that the Iranian government is accepting of trans people and covers trans surgeries. On the other hand, someone who lives in a country that is seen as “very liberal” may not actually create an easy transition process for an individual person. For example, Isak (the participant we filmed in Norway)² hasn’t had the simplest time accessing hormones or finding social support. I’ve also realized that there are many shared experiences between trans men in different cultures, many of them relating to bodily experiences, such as binding, taking testosterone, and struggling with internalized dysphoria.
TMP: I see you are an avid hockey player. Do you still play?
T.Z.:   I had almost forgotten about hockey because of retirement, haha. I’ve been playing since I was eight, and I think having access to this sport helped me figure out my gender in some ways. It helped me escape the constraints of being assigned to the wrong gender by allowing me to partake in a sport that is seen as traditionally “masculine”. I played a year in college at Wesleyan University until I sustained a shoulder injury that ended my career. Occasionally, I still play in adult pick-up leagues.   TMP: Working with those with disabilities is a humbling experience, and during the time you lived in Massachusetts, you tutored those with disabilities. How has that shaped your view of your dysphoria?

T.Z.: This is another great question. I think that disability rights and trans rights are intersectional.

People who are disabled fight to have their bodies respected and are often the targets of physical violence, discrimination, and often have to prove that they are indeed human. That resonates with many trans stories, and one could even say that dysphoria is a debilitating emotional and physical disability. I think that just like the disability rights movement has changed the way we see the concept of ableism, the experience of dysphoria can be changed if we are given the unequivocal acceptance to become ourselves. 

TMP: Do you still feel that trans men are an outside voice and how can we as a society change that?

T.Z.:   I definitely think trans men are an outside voice. I think we do have to be aware of male privilege and not try to take up too much representational space; however, if we portray our stories in a way that challenges societal norms about masculinity, gender, and beauty, then I think we can really challenge the reasons behind transphobia. I think we as a society can improve that by changing the ways we see gender by accepting that one’s sex isn’t pre-determined by genitalia. I think we also need to shift away from the idea that gender determines personality, sexuality, social roles, and one’s life destiny.

TMP: I like to ask, if you could tell the world something about Tony Zosherafatain  and you knew everyone would listen, what would you like them to know about you?

T.Z.: That I have been through many struggles in my life, as a trans man, as a first-generation America, as a man of color, but, honestly I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m very proud of my backgrounds. My life experiences have made me mentally resilient and I can relate to people on a more human level. Though I’ve been the target of discrimination, I try not to judge humanity. I’m critical of systemic discrimination, but believe that people can change for the better. With “I am the T”, I want to show people life through a trans man’s eyes so that even conservative viewers no longer doubt that we are just as human as anyone else.

It has been a pleasure getting to know this man of many talents, a pioneer in film for trans voices, a nurse, and a champion for the disabled. It is our pleasure to announce that this interview is part one of a series TMP will cover about the director, and the film “I Am The T’.  Tony has also teamed up with TMP as a guest blogger, where he will be chronicling his experiences filming in Norway.


  1. In Reference to the duality of being trans. Two spirited people. Consider throughout history as special connections to the divine, and a direct representation of God’s form.
  2. The film I Am the T, covers background from several countries; Malaysia, Norway and Canada to name a few.
  3. Iran actually performs far more SRS surgeries than most countries. It’s a doubled edge sword. While being trans has less stigma than being gay or lesbian, the tragic side is the forced sex reassignment of gay men and lesbian women, so that they will be heterosexual in the eyes of the community and Allah.

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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.

 

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  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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The Inspiring beginning of life as a Gay Trans-Man in Carolina

Guest Post by Chad Smith

 

Growing up as a kid, I was always that ‘tomboy’. I would rather play kickball, soccer, or baseball with the guys, rather than sit around doing each other’s hair and talking with some girls. This being said, I’m sure my parents had some speculations starting young. My mom would make sly comments saying, “I’m wondering who has longer shorts on: My husband (wearing booty shorts), or my daughter (baggy basketball shorts)?” It was comments like these that made me scared growing up to be anything but ‘different’.

Middle school was the hardest time. But I mean, it’s the most awkward stage of a human being, I’m sure it’s hard for everybody. I had to start wearing a sports bra. Even though my chest hadn’t really presented itself yet, we had to change for PE. When things did start to happen, I was glad I had the sports bra instead of a padded one. I could still try to hide my chest. Later on I started getting in trouble for doing drugs and such. It was the hardest time for me and I hadn’t even realized it yet. But this was the time I truly was trying to find myself.

Well high school came, and things were fine. I became a pretty decent popular girl, known for her athletics and musicality, bright personality and a sense of humor. But what nobody knew was that she never felt more dead in her life.

By junior year, I cut my hair and came out as bisexual. I started dating girls, and everybody assumed I was a lesbian. I guess I started to think that too. I had dated another popular musical athletic guy the previous year, and so this changed sparked a lot of talk. But ya know I was the same person really. My parents, Mom especially, were not accepting at all. That’s what made everything so hard, knowing that being me is wrong in my parent’s eyes.

Finally by senior year, I started putting ‘Chad’ on my instrument cases in band. That was the only place I truly felt safe in high school, even to the point where I skipped lunch and just went to the band room to practice. I knew that this was the only place I could really be me. By the end of the year, my band director asked if she should be referring to me as Chad. It was the end of the year, so I felt no need for the sudden change. I was not yet out to really anybody, I had wanted to wait for anything.

A week before graduation, my Mom confronted me about being a lesbian, or transgender. I told her, “I go by Chad. I am transgender, and I am your son.” She cried and yelled at me to inform my Dad. To my shock, when I stood there in tears telling him what I had said, he came up to hug me. He doesn’t agree, but he knows that this is me, and regardless of being gay or straight this is not a choice of mine. After graduation, I made a Face book page for the REAL me. I deleted that stupid girl page. I deleted the almost 1,000 friends I had on there, and started over. My first friends were the few friends I told, and then slowly throughout the years following, people from high school. It’s funny; I’m even friends with my old band director.

I went to college, and showed up living my life as the male I know myself to be. My classmates have no clue until I become close with them. The only people that do know are those that are in the band with me. People slowly found out about my transition. Some it took until our final band rehearsal, where I did underwear run in my bright purple sports bra and boxers, to know about my life. But once that happened, more questions sparked.

I had just been in a relationship with a guy in the band, a gay cis guy. People that didn’t know just assumed I was the same. But now that they knew, their thoughts became more askew. I’m a female to male transgender now dating a guy? Dating a GAY guy? It is so different and unique; it was scary for some to think about. But psh, they don’t even know how it feels to be that person. I went into college calling myself a straight male. I present myself as that, even now. I wear my hats backwards or tilted to the side, black or dark skater-type shirts, and nice fitting pants, my voice slightly high due to low testosterone levels, but it’s not that ‘gay tone’. People would never know that I’m transgender or gay! But once they get a sense of one or the other, things become different.

The scariest thing was coming back after that first year of college, and informing my friends that I had dated and slept with gay guys the past year. No words but, “Are you serious?” were muttered from their mouths. I never thought that my lifestyle could affect others so deeply. But it was in those moments that I realized this is real life. Yes others like me exist in this world, but it’s such a rarity. And to be honest, I hate that. I hate that my friends are scared for me, because they are afraid people are going to hurt me for being different. If this world just became more caring or understanding, we wouldn’t have to live in fear constantly.

But now, this being about my third year living as a straight up male, I can’t be any happier. I perform as a drag king, and met my lovely boyfriend on the same stage that I perform on, but he performs as a drag queen. It’s different, it’s unique, but it’s life.

A lot of people hear bits and pieces of my story, and say I’m so brave for being me. But nobody should be scared to be yourself. I lived in a house full of fear, but when I realized I was okay for being me, I let nothing stop me. The past few years and made me stronger and stronger, and I hope for anybody transiting or coming out as anything, they realize that it is okay. No matter what, be you. Because no matter what you are not alone.

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