This holiday season I am looking for the final leg of support in my almost continuous fundraising effort for my top surgery here in the United States. I am $1,446 dollars short of my goal of $8,500 as of tonight.
Here is part of my evolving story of becoming Bryan…the political nerd, the bisexual/transgender activist and the emergency manager.
I have been really lucky in a way to be able to transition the way I have and to have some of the most influential people in New York City support and encourage me every step of the way during the past almost 2 years of my transition. I made the conscience decision that I would be as visible as possible during this process of transition and change in my life.
I started my transition in 2010, while I was an intern for the Speaker of the City Council Christine C Quinn and her Community Outreach Unit on the 30th Floor of 250 Broadway here in New York City. On December 9th 2010 that building was the first place the name Bryan was said out loud and herd by others. That was a moment for me that I can’t forget because for that place to see me as Bryan and use male pronouns in front of others made it seem possible for me to be able to transition and not have to go into hiding for a little.
I was the first transgender person visible to graduate from the College of Staten Island; the proper name was not on my degree. Much to the disappointment of some people, I decided not to attend my college graduation that year. This is only the nicest hardship in the struggle of being transgender in the City of New York even with protections they aren’t enforced.
For me transitioning isn’t something you should put your life on hold while you do it. After Hurricane Sandy I felt something that I can only associate with as being a family thing…to provide assistance to survivors of an emergency in the city of New York. The reason I say a family thing is my biological Dad work as a 9/11 first responder as an EMT. So yeah I take emergency response as a family thing and something I am proud of. When I applied for FEMA
I forgot that, I’m transgender. Why because it wasn’t about that because it wasn’t about me being transgender it was about helping my community and doing the only thing, that I’ve known to do is respond. Yeah the background check made me bring it up but I got nothing too hide.
The day I got sworn in too FEMA, I became aware of how much of a big deal it was to everyone else, people from all 50 states had come to New York City to assist with Hurricane Sandy relief as part of FEMA. I was the first known transgender person that they had ever hired, so they had some questions things that needed to be change and of course people who weren’t ready for ” a guy like me”
The first couple days at the JFO (Joint Field Office) I would cross Queens Blvd to use the bathroom in a Starbucks because I was that uncomfortable after a confrontation with someone how said “he don’t have people like you back home, so you can’t use the bathroom here”, “my response was well you’re in New York City now so you may need to get use to the idea” That’s part of an already physically and mentally draining day working 16 hrs.
Even in New York City with the laws we have here, I have been treated anything but equal many times while out and about…so I had to out myself to my co-workers as we spent all our days outside with the public assisting them with the filing process for FEMA. Staten Island was my borough of deployment; I would be stationed from December till the end of March.
The men got use to me being in the restroom and they never were rude to me, but they did witness what happens when you are discriminated against. I spent so much time with them; they become protective of me and left places where I was given dirty looks, and comments that were about me. They left a restaurant without paying because of the owner being disrespectful and asking me to leave during a training day in Yonkers Toward the end of my deployment I was given the option to sign on as a reservist in Region 2 (NY, NJ, DE, CT) to not be able to safely do my job in NY because of my gender identity and gender expression played a big part in my decision to stay as a reservist.
After I was relieved from my job for that disaster I traveled too DC where I experienced the worst transphobic experience of my life by a National Organization. As we continue the fight to be accepted and understood by the world around us, many of can’t deal with looking at ourselves in the mirror everyday. I will NEVER go anywhere without my binder, not even to support my best friend when he ran for City Council this year and won. Not even when I know I may have to be outside of my apartment 20+ hrs. a day…if I am out of my apartment the binder is ON.
I need your support so I can continue what I do and encourage other self-made men like myself to be open, honest and confident in the process of transition.