The Day I Crossed The Bay

I was hired to do some crawlspace work on a rental property owned by one of my local clients. The work was extensive, and to thicken the plot: very far away from home. I live in Orange County and the property in question is up near the Bay Area. The original plan was for me to go stay in town for the duration of the work, possibly a month or so. When we first planned this job, we intended to kick it off much earlier in the year, so I was looking forward to celebrating Pride in San Francisco. I had not yet come out as trans on social media, so I looked forward to celebrating Pride in San Francisco and sharing that as a milestone moment in my life and transition. Then, as is often the case with property work: we faced several delays. I didn't leave for the Bay Area until the start of November.


Most people in my personal life have been aware of my transition almost since I began hrt in 2020. My work colleagues started coming aboard in 2021 when the changes were becoming difficult to hide. I had been fortunate in the level of acceptance and respect I received– privileged even. It was still scary to bring myself the rest of the way out of the closet on social media. I grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota, and I was raised Mormon, so I worried about how my greater communities of family, friends, and acquaintances might respond to such surprising news. So it wasn't until late August of 2022 that I was ready to break that news.


It's true that I enjoyed the privilege of support and acceptance in my personal life, but that did shelter me in a way that amplified the shock of how strangers on the internet would respond to me– especially in the context of the heating political climate for trans people around that time. I've often made the comment that I feel like I came out of the closet into a war zone. My brand new social media presence started getting harassed, my comments on posts would sometimes receive vile responses about my gender identity regardless of the original topic, and I started encountering more and more extreme commentary condemning trans people. In my experience, people like me. They trust me, they respect me, and they show me love and support, so the rapidly increasing hostility really made my head spin. I'll remind you that I was out of town when this started getting bad. I already live hundreds of miles away from any family– a couple thousand away from my mom and dad. My friends and my boyfriend are all I have in California, and now I was hundreds of miles away from them too. It was just me and my dog staying in a vacant rental, in a town I had never even seen on a map until I was driving there. I think we all turn to social media when we feel lonely. Unfortunately, social media had become an unwelcome inlet for a lot of negativity.


The Transgender Day of Remembrance was coming. The hate I had been experiencing on the internet compounded the feeling of isolation I was living with in that cold vacant rental, so I felt strongly compelled to participate in an event that day. I wanted to be among members of my community and feel a better sense of connection to other people like me. Construction and skilled trade work has left me with fairly thick skin, and I've always been a bit of a loner, but anti trans sentiments had still left me feeling a little alienated from society. I wanted to be physically present with trans people for the Day of Remembrance. This was in the spirit of the occasion, and because I knew many of them would have to be feeling the same way– possibly worse. I chose to attend in San Francisco because I had already thought I would be celebrating Pride there. It seemed most appropriate since I had come so far already, to go just a little farther out of my way to be in such an iconic city for this important day.


I woke up that morning to the notification that Uber had approved my name change on my user profile. These little moments as a trans person feel like sweet victory, especially when other things feel like such a struggle. I was feeling anxious as I picked out an outfit and put on my makeup, pondering the political climate I had been witnessing. I was also nervous for the fact that I had not yet participated in any events related to the transgender or LGBTQ+ communities. And of course I was nervous when the driver came to pick me up because my name was changed on Uber, but my photo was the same bearded man smirking confidently out the window of an SUV. I worried for nothing. The driver was incredibly respectful, and even asked engaging questions about my trip into the city and the significance of the day. The pleasant and respectful conversation was a breath of fresh air from the internet nightmare I had been living in for the previous weeks. We made it across the bay to city hall where I stood reverently with a small crowd listening to powerful messages of hope and courage, against the dark backdrop of the tragic events that had unfolded at Club Q only the night before. It was a stark and sobering context for an already solemn occasion meant to honor lives that had been lost.


It was a new feeling of connection and purpose for me, marching from city hall together with trans people and allies alike to attend a beautiful memorial program. The speeches at the steps of City Hall and the march were moving, but it was the coming evening that carried the deepest impact on how I would live my life from there. The program was held at La Cocina Municipal Market. By the time I got in the door the building seemed almost completely full. I came into a warm and slightly crowded hall, greeted by complements and warm smiles– another breath of fresh air from the vulgar exchanges of Instagram comment threads.  We heard from empowering speakers, enjoyed uplifting music, and viewed the short film "Garza" by Priscilla Murray in honor of María José Garza, who had recently passed away. Her life and work changed the city of San Francisco and her legacy has made positive impacts on many lives. I was honored to be in her home town celebrating her legacy. Garza was and still is a true icon and inspiration of strength and resilience for trans women, and her words are permanently etched on my heart: "I'm not moving, I did, I crossed the borders. I'm here now, so this is my home town. This is where I live, where I am, and I'm not going back." 

I've shared those words a few times on social media hoping that her sentiment will continue to echo in the hearts of other trans women. The event theme was "Their Legacy Lives On" and I took that upon myself as a promise that I hope to continue living by.


After the film we shared a solemn moment of remembrance together in honor of the lives we know of that were extinguished by intolerance and hate. The names of those who had been lost were read aloud and their faces were shown on a projector screen. We prayed for peace for their loved ones, and for all who are struggling against hatred toward transgender people. I watched the big screen at the front of the room as the faces came and went, and felt hot tears pooling heavy against my eyes with a sharp sting. Each deep swirling tear dropped from my chin as I clenched my jaw. My chest tightened under the weight of immense sorrow.. and rage. I was reminded of the friends I had made, other trans women who shared their journeys with me. I couldn't push away the fear that one day the face on the screen could be one of theirs, that the name being read aloud before a candle light vigil could be a name that no longer pops up on my phone. These faces and names were my own people who had been taken from a community I belong to, in a world I live in. This feeling has never fully faded away for me, especially as I've witnessed the political climate turn from hostility to atrocity.


After the program I shared hugs and good company in love and solidarity with people who were beautifully diverse in every way– except in one of the most personal aspects of my human journey. In that way they are.. just like me. The spirit of pride filled the entire venue and filled my heart with love and compassion for others. When I got back to that cold vacant rental unit I felt like the time had come to begin speaking out publicly, to call attention to transphobia and discrimination. I was surprised when the video I posted that night got a little bit of attention. I never expected anybody to actually listen to what I had to say, but some people did. So I've continued to say more. I will continue to say more. My entire life has become centrally focused on the pursuit of acceptance and equality for transgender people. I will never let go of the feelings of that day. I will never forget the purpose of my mission that I carried away from that transformative day in my life: I will make the world better for transgender people. We will be free and equal members of society, just the way we are– because we belong. 

"We shouldn't even have to fight Transgender rights ARE HUMAN RIGHTS"


A short film by Priscilla Murray.

Please take a little time to watch this film and hear her story. I hope her words can strike the same part of your heart that they did for me. 

"I'm not moving"


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