Editor's Note: This guest post from Deen, is part of a week-long series to celebrate the visibility and heroism of transgender Americans as part of Transgender Awareness Week. The final day of Transgender Awareness Week is theTransgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.
I fought the idea that I was transgender for a long time. Perhaps I knew that it would test my most important – and precarious – relationships that those relationships wouldn't make it. I don't know. What I do know is that I came out as a “butch” bisexual in 1994, at the age of 19. I spent 10 years proving my masculinity everyday, defending myself to my family, and fighting the barely conscious thought that maybe this journey would take me farther, and being very afraid.
In 2004, I went to India of all places – my family's homeland – and I met another transgender man who changed my life. I suppose I saw myself reflected in his face, in his experience, and couldn't deny it anymore. It was a tough road, for both myself and my partner of 5 years (at that time).
This is what I learned: My parents loved me, but not unconditionally. They wanted to protect me and to protect the family from talk and gossip and misunderstanding, and so they were not able to be there for me during this difficult time. My partner loves me... unconditionally. Though it was hard for her, though she had to tell her parents that her partner was now a man, though her parents had to tell her grandparents, still I was always a welcome part of their family.
Other things I learned: My life is not just about gender. Sometimes it's about theater (my career) or music or cooking. It's always about friends and loved ones. It's always about the Beloved Friend (God). It's always about looking deeper and discovering the layers of truth.
I made this video about my journey, and I think it explains it better than these words, so I will end now and offer you this:
Latino USA on National Public Radio hosted by award winning journalist Maria Hinojosa has been airing stories about Latino LGBT people, including a full hour devoted to the queer community in February and, most recently, a profile of a queer Latina cumbia band. These stories are available in their archives and have been broadcast on NPR stations and on Radio Bilingue, the Latino public broadcast network with headquarters in Fresno and Oakland. Radio Bilingue is heard throughout the Central Valley in California and in the Southwest.