Austin

Richmond, VA

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My name is Austin. I am an educator, a graduate student, a community advocate, and a trans-feminine, non-binary person. This means that although I was raised as a boy, I knew that I wasn’t a boy or a girl, but actually both and neither simultaneously. Even though I do not strictly identify as male or female, I am a feminine person and I’m proud that I’m finally in a place to be myself. I finished my undergraduate degree in business marketing at VCU, then went on to be a mortgage officer and do marketing jobs. I often felt like I couldn’t bring myself to work, and my passion was never sparked as a result. This dissatisfaction led me to education. I’m now in the last semester of my master’s degree in education leadership while also managing courses for nontraditional students at VCU.

 

Growing up as an impoverished biracial child, I am invested in education not just as my occupation, but as a way to advocate for those around me. I am grateful to be where I am today, and I hope to open the way behind and in front of me. I’m lucky because I have chosen and blood family that supports me. Additionally, my current job is the first place I felt welcome to bring my whole self, and it’s mostly because of the little things like having my pronouns and a headshot of me presenting femininely on my business card. It’s also the first place where I don’t have to worry that being myself might get me fired, demoted, or harassed while on the job. I haven’t faced official discrimination, but it’s still a concern I’ll carry with me.

 

Ultimately, discrimination hurts our whole community, not just transgender people. When transgender people are fired, face harassment at work, or can’t find housing, we can’t contribute to society. We all want the chance to give back to our families, communities, and country but we need to meet our basic needs first.  In order to make that happen, transgender people need to be protected from discrimination in housing and public employment. The time for action is now, because even one more person losing their livelihood or shelter is too many.