Thursday 2 January 2014

Interview with Tracee McDaniel

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Tracee McDaniel, an American transgender activist, and advocate, the CEO and Founder of Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia, the author of “Transitions: Memoirs of a Transsexual Woman”. Hello Tracee!
Tracee: Greetings Monika, thank you for your interest in my story.
Monika: Could you say a few words about your career so far?
Tracee: I believe that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing as far as my career is concerned. I enjoy helping others.
Monika: What are the objectives and current agenda of Juxtaposed Center?
Tracee: Our current objective is to continue fighting for human rights, equality, and justice for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Our current community initiative includes membership on the Working Group on Prostitution, which was formed by Mayor Kasim Reed to address and make recommendations on how to address street prostitution in our city.

Monika: What inspired you to write your autobiography?
Tracee: I was inspired by ex-pro basketball player John Amaechi. I also wanted to tell my story in my own words to possibly inspire a young person identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming.
Monika: Which aspects of your biography could be used by other transgender women planning their transitions?
Tracee: Quite frankly, the entire boon could be used by those planning to transition. The fact that I was born and raised in South Carolina with no positive role models to emulate, yet I’ve managed to excel and thrive against all odds to persevere over the numerous societal roadblocks and adversities.
Monika: At the time of your transition did you have any transgender role models that you could follow?
Tracee: Although I was familiar with other trans people during my early transition, I never wanted to emulate them because they weren’t the most positive people to model myself after.

Her autobiography.

Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Tracee: I don’t know if I’d really come out, because I was always effeminate and disinterested in being intimate with females. Anything beyond friendship and sisterhood with females wasn’t happening as far as I was and am concerned.
Monika: What is your view on transgender stories or characters which have been featured in films, newspapers, or books so far?
Tracee: Unfortunately, I am discouraged by the negative images and harmful Jerry Springer destructive stereotypes that are currently being used and seen in television, films, newspapers, and books. I am encouraged that these negative portrayals will eventually run their course.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Tracee: I am hopeful that ENDA passes both legislative houses so that transgender people will receive legal protection from employment discrimination.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Tracee: Although I’d previously traveled to Washington, DC, and personally lobbied Congress to support a fully inclusive ENDA and increased HIV/AIDS funding Juxtaposed Center for Transformation isn’t a political organization. However, I strongly encourage other transgender people to register and vote in addition to getting involved in politics. If we’re not involved in the process our needs and concerns will not be met.
Monika: Is there anyone in the US transgender society whose actions could be compared to what Harvey Milk was doing in the 60s and 70s for gay activism?
Tracee: No one that I am aware of whom I’d compare to Harvey Milk.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Tracee: Love is very important. I am very blessed to have the love, unconditional support, and understanding of my family. I am also fortunate to have been in a monogamous relationship with my spouse going on eighteen years this coming April.

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Tracee: I like fashion and I wear what I’m comfortable with. I also enjoy jeans and a ‘T-shirt without make-up when possible.
Monika: What do you think about transgender beauty pageants?
Tracee: They’re not for me to personally participate in, however, I see the value and interest others may find in participation. Don’t get me wrong, my alter-ego Destiny Your Mistress of Illusions is a semi-retired performance artist who appeared as a backup singer for Diana Ross in her music video “I Will Survive”, “The Jackson’s”—An American Dream and “Primary Colors” starring John Travolta. I strongly believe that there is a difference between a Performance Artist and a Pageant Queen with nothing being wrong with neither preference.
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Tracee: I will soon be starting to write and publish my next book.
Monika: Tracee, thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Tracee McDaniel.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

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