Virginia Beach, VA

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My name is J.C. I’m an artist, a husband, a community advocate, and a transgender man. This means that although the world perceived me as a woman because of my anatomy, I have long known myself to be a man.  I was not always outspoken about my identity as a transgender man of color, but now that I am part of an organization that helps vulnerable transgender people, I feel like I am in a position in to educate people about issues facing my community. Many folks don’t think they know a transgender person, so I make sure to let them know that not everything about me has to do with being transgender. At the end of the day, I’m just a regular guy who enjoys the outdoors, spending time with my wife, and going to the gym.


I am only able to be where I am because of an organization called the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (TAPVA), which helps homeless transgender Virginians connect with emergency housing, food, and transportation. I have experienced homelessness, and at one point, I was even rejected from a men’s homeless shelter in the Hampton Roads area because I was transgender.  Luckily, TAPVA helped me get back on my feet and empowered me to help other folks once I got the help I needed.


I have also faced discrimination after coming out as transgender. I have had jobs refuse to hire me once they found out I was transgender. Additionally, past coworkers have used an incorrect name and pronouns for me as well as asking me invasive questions about my body and the restroom I use.  It’s hard to be a productive with your team at work, when colleagues don’t treat you with the same respect they offer to everyone else. I’ve had problems with a variety of public accommodations as well, from medical professionals misgendering me to being accused of shop lifting just because I was wearing a binder. It’s exhausting having to vet places like stores, doctors’ offices, and gyms just to ensure I’ll be treated with respect. Protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations will help me keep a roof over my head and a job to support my family, as well as allow me to go out and be treated like any other customer. No one should face discrimination just because they chose to live as their true self. Even if you aren’t transgender yourself, you may find out later that you have a transgender friend, sibling, child, parent, or coworker. They deserve the same shot to thrive as everyone else.


*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.