The December/January issue of The Empty Closet is honoring a mother and her transgender daughter for their volunteer work with the Gay Alliance and efforts to make the world a better place. If you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s my mother and I. :)
From coming out to volunteering
On January 16, 2014, I came out to my mother as a trans woman. Earlier that day, I had just completed my second (or third?) public presentation about LGBTQ awareness and education. Mom took the news rather well, commenting: “I always wanted to have a daughter!”.
She had a lot of questions about what it means to be transgender. We talked for about 2 or 3 hours the day I came out. Eager to gain more insight about her trans daughter and learn as much as she could about the diversity within the LGBTQIA, Mom started volunteering at the Gay Alliance as an office worker.
On Saturday, October 18, 2014, I had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Laverne Cox at the University of Rochester. Prior to her talk, I was among a group of people to have a photo taken with her. My excitement level was through the roof and I was filled with gratitude!
Meeting Laverne Cox
When it was my turn to have my photo taken with Laverne, I entered the room where they were handling the pictures. Laverne was over to the right and I immediately went up to her and thanked her for all she’s done to raise positive awareness and educate people about transgender realities. “Your welcome.”, she replied.
On November 16, 2013, after returning home from a transgender support group in Syracuse, I revealed to my wife that need to transition. This came long after I had figured out it was the only way to save my own life. Explaining this to my wife was terrifying. It was the most difficult conversation I’ve ever had. There was a lot of crying – most of it mine. I think both our hearts broke that night. I know mine sure did. It wasn’t just my heart that broke… I broke, period.
Unlike when I came out to my wife as a “crossdresser” in 2008, coming out as a trans woman in 2013 didn’t go so well. She doesn’t consider herself a lesbian and doesn’t want to be in a romantic relationship with a woman (or trans woman).
The Empty Closet is New York State’s oldest “gay newspaper”. I prefer to think of it as an LGBTQ focused publication, which it very much is. It’s published monthly by the Gay Alliance in Rochester, NY. Don’t let the name “Gay Alliance” fool you, either. They’re tapped into the whole alphabet soup of the LGBTQIA… not just the “G”. In my opinion, it’s more about the “H” than anything. The H is for human being, which is what we ALL are, regardless of how many of the other letters apply (or don’t apply).
Editor and photographer Susan Jordan reached out and asked if I’d be interested in being featured in the “My Own Private Rochester” column for November, 2014. I was honored by the request and pushed the “let’s do this” button without hesitation.
Susan learned of me through my work with the Gay Alliance as an active member of their Speaker’s Bureau. To date (as of making this post), I’ve talked publicly about LGBTQ issues and realities on more than 30 occasions. This includes LGBTQ panels, SafeZone training, transgender-specific and general diversity presentations.
Rising to Your Greatness, Sharing Your Journey and Transforming the World
A Community Discussion with Gabrielle Hermosa on Saturday, September 20, 2014 @ 6:30 PM.
About the event
Life can seem hectic, stressful and unfair. Social inequalities, separatism and disparities have many of us feeling helpless, lost, alone and without options.
But we’re NOT alone. We’re all in this world together. By making changes in the way we think, feel and act, we can turn things around and super-charge our lives. Working together we can build strong, uplifting, supportive communities. By rising to our greatness, sharing our gifts, passions and journeys, we have the power to transform the world and make it a better place for everyone.
Image credit: unknown
Friday, July 18 through Sunday, July 20, I experienced my first (ever) Pride festival and parade. For three days, I was high on life, low on sleep, and filled with love, gratitude, and an emotional bliss I’m not sure how to describe. It was beautiful, just beautiful!
The photo above was taken on Saturday, July 19. That’s me in the top row, 4th from the left, flashing “I love you” in sign language. Not only did I attend my first Pride Parade, but I was also in it, riding on the first ever official transgender float to grace the RocPride Parade. Represented were several trans organizations, including: The Q Center (Syracuse, NY), Genesee Valley Gender Variants (Rochester, NY), Trans* Alliance of Greater Rochester (TAGR), and the Transgender Alliance of Central New York.
I’m trans and proud! So how is it that I attended my first Pride event at the age of 43? In a nutshell, I’m a late bloomer. It took quite some time to fully figure out who and what I Am. Better late than never. Let’s face it – many people never do truly figure themselves out, regardless of gender identity. I very much wanted to attend RocPride in 2013, but…
Passing without passing
The photo above shows me walking through a local mall carrying my bag of goods. That’s how I look to most people – just another random woman shopping in the mall. Until, that is, someone looks directly at me from 20 meters or closer. Contrary to the carefully chosen photos I post publicly, I don’t pass – not in person. Most people read me as trans without missing a beat. More importantly, most people treat me very well.
The right attitude goes a long way
Years ago, when venturing out into public I’d get laughed at every time. Getting laughed at, disparaged, and called names by homophobic/transphobic cowards made me self-conscious and fearful of going out. In retrospect, I understand the difficulties I used to experience.
Other trans women frequently told me, “It’s more about attitude than passing.” How can attitude affect how one is viewed by others? It took me a few years to figure out. Having the right attitude in public can be the difference between having an amazingly positive and enjoyable experience, or not. It’s a little like a magic trick, but it’s not magic. There’s something more powerful at work, and it’s not just attitude, either.