Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Deja Nicole Greenlaw, an inspirational American transgender activist and advocate. Hello Deja!
I deal with many people from several departments in a manufacturing environment and with hundreds of manufacturing plants all over the globe. Anyone who interacts with me can say that they know a transgender person and working with one is not an issue. If someone they know say something negative about transgender people they can refute it because they have first hand experience with working with me.
For the majority of the people I work with, I am the first transgender person that they have ever met. A few of them may have had issues with me in the beginning but now they are all very accepting of me.
The same goes for the community that I live in, the stores that I patronize, the doctors and staffs that I interact with. They all know a transgender person. By being open and out and about I am helping to change people’s thoughts about transgender people. I believe that is my greatest contribution to activism.
One of my thoughts when I was 50 years old was that I was not going to go to my grave without ever even trying to experience my life as female. I turned 50 in October 2001, just one month after the September 11 attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. It was then that I realized that at any time I could be killed by terrorists. I knew that I had to finally move on finding out who I truly was before it was too late.
I dabbled in crossdressing for 6 years until in 2007 when I began taking hormones and went full time. It is such a wonderful peace to be able to live my life as female. Yes, even beginning to find myself at the late age of 50 was well worth it. Twelve years later I am so glad that I finally made my move.
I just accepted that I had to be male and that I really wanted to be female but I had to keep it quiet. I just accepted that was the way it was. I didn't think that it was possible to change genders back then so I kept it to myself.
When I came out to live full time in late 2007 the hardest thing for me was to deal with family members who would not accept me. Everything else, including work was relatively easy.
Yes, there are still plenty of issues facing us and more work definitely needs to be done but there is legislation in the works and things are looking up.
|At Boston Pride in 2010 just before the Pride March.|
As far as the famous “You must come out...” phrase of Mr Milk no one can seem to get this point across to the majority of transpeople.
I myself have tried to encourage transfolk to come out and live openly but so many are just not interested in doing so. Like Harvey, I wish that every person would come out.
I've always preferred working within the LGBT groups because their political structure is already in place and there are already many movers and shakers within these organizations. Some folks want to break away from the LGBT structure and separate from the LGB people but I don't agree with their thinking. I much prefer a larger, stronger united front.
|Playing her guitar at work in her cubicle.|
Yes, I believe that transgender women can make a difference in politics. Many already have. Laws have been passed, things are changing, yes, transwomen have and will continue to make a difference in politics.
|Playing at “The Rainbow Riverfest” with Keri Stebbins.|
I love to entertain and many folks after hearing me perform ask me where/when they can hear me again. Then there's my book that I could work on but again, that would be just for me and maybe a few friends.
Try as best you can to accept yourself. You need to understand that you are female.
Go to support groups, talk to others in your local community. Learn your local resources.
Accept that not everyone will accept you. You may very well lose the support of some family members and friends. It will hurt.
Understand that the whole point of transition is to figure out who you are, to take the steps to become who you are, and ultimately to find your gift and contribute to society.
Don't lock yourself away. This is your life so live it and enjoy it!
Listen to what others have to say about you, do not immediately dismiss what they say because you don't like it. Think about their words. There might be something that you need to hear.
Try to get along with people. Don't dismiss others because your thoughts are different from theirs. Agree to disagree and to respect others opinions.
Lastly, learn how to smile and use it. It will ease you through many tough situations. Plus your pics are always better when you smile. :)