Freedom to be yourself is not as free as people make it seem. It’s an act of bravery, a gesture of determination. My bestfriend Dee is truly free. Her beautiful, fearless spirit is something we can all learn from. “What’s the point in living a life where you can’t be yourself?” As a trans woman of color, the backlash you face for simply wanting to be yourself is severe. Imagine being killed for simply being yourself. It’s scary. The average life expectancy for transwomen of color is 35 years old. With multiple levels of discrimination, being black and being transgender, it can be hard to navigate life.
Dee has been one of my best friends since our senior year of high school. We were low-key theatre geeks. I remember I thought, she thought she was better than everyone when she did the makeup for Hair Spray. But it turns out that we were actually one in the same wave length. Constantly screaming at amazing singers on YouTube and giggling about the Soprano section in show choir. We’ve always tirelessly encouraged each other. I remember our senior year we played major roles in our school’s run of “The Wiz.” I played an over -the-top version of “Evillene” and she played the “Lion”. Honestly, she is the best actress that I know. She is someone who use to go to state competitions and clean the whole house of trophies. A TRUE SUPERSTAR. We have so many beautiful memories that I can look back on. But I think my proudest memory of Dee is her transition to womanhood.
It has truly been one of the most lionhearted things that I’ve been able to witness. To be yourself in a world that wants you to disappear, is the single most brave thing that I’ve seen. And recently she went to her grandmother’s funeral in Chicago. After not seeing family in years, they embraced every piece of her with open arms. That made my heart smile because that is not the norm. Dee’s nature is pure and genuine. I know that life is going to continue to shine light for trailblazers like her.
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