9 minute read

TRAN/S/   BY: Brittan Hardgers [He/ Him/ His]

This month I am honored to recognize Kegine from “Kegine’s Outreach for The Homeless” & Dom, an amazing man of transition who I am thankful to call a brother. As you all know each month we spotlight black and brown folx who demonstrate TRAN/S/ (True Resilience Against Negative Stereotypes). Don’t forget you can also email me people you want to see recognized.

Visibility is Power! We will be seen. We Will Be Heard.

I am excited and honored to have you here with me today to speak about TRAN/s/ (True Resilience Against Negative Stereotypes)

BH: Before we begin can you tell me a little about yourself? (anything you are comfortable with sharing)

K: Hi my name is Kegine, I'm a Black Woman of Trans experience.

BH: I am aware you run an organization; can you explain the nature of your organization and how it came to be?

K: I am the founder of Kegine's Outreach For The Homeless. I serve ALL genders and colors. I started this outreach years ago, but never gave it a name until recently. I provide the homeless community with essentials. I used to buy everything out of my pocket; but I quickly realized I can no longer afford to do this alone. So with the help of myself and donations from organizations I can now provide PPE kits, clothes, shoes, snacks,and toiletries for the homeless while they navigate the harsh streets. Oftentimes people walk right past and discard the homeless. They make the assumption that all homeless people can work and are lazy. 26

Can't be further from the truth. Many people on the street are suffering from mental illness and don't know how to seek assistance or where to start. Yes some have drug addictions due their homeless situation, or to cope with what they may have to do to survive out in the streets.

BH: What was the motivation behind starting your organization?

K: My motivation comes from personal experience. I was once homeless, feeling like a female but living in a men's shelter.. Awful. Living in a men’s shelter I remember the dirty looks and the discrimination and rejection from others when I went to look for work. I eventually got work bounced from job to job due to discrimination. My friend and I were told by a restaurant owner to wait outside for our food while it's being prepared. I had to hustle the streets for a little while back then; But I never gave up because I still felt I deserved to be treated equally. I deserved more for myself. I eventually went back to work & beauty school. I got my first job in a salon and transitioned on the job; I am also a CNA.

BH: Where do you see your organization in 5 years?

K: Today my goal is to eventually own a building where homeless people can come to get their needs met i.e. showers, food, clothes, and essentials to keep them clean and safe. I think if they have the bare essentials some can feel more comfortable and confident in looking for work or going to other places to get resources. I feel my service to the homeless community is vital

BH: What are some negative stereotypes have you had to face in your personal life that have positively impacted your drive and passion when running your organization?

K: I’ve grown stronger over the years so I don't allow others stereotypical opinions of me to get in my head. No matter what I've done or what I will achieve, people will always have their opinions. The key to peace is to be true to who you are however you identify. Also remember that what others think of you is none of your business. Negative comments only fuel my fire to work harder. It motivates me in a weird way. It encourages me to never give up on my dreams and goals. I've been told by someone that my outreach service is not as important as their job. After all I do in serving the homeless I've been told that what I do is a hobby. So you see people will always try to project their failures or their own disappointments on to you.

BH: What is your definition of “True Resilience Against Negative Stereotypes”? Can you give me an example?

K: I think we as LGBTQ+ people are resilient. We face adversity regularly because of who we are. We are the true

definition of resilience.

BH: What advice or support would you offer to someone who is struggling with negative stereotypes and self worth?

K: My advice is to continue to do your best and never believe those negative voices. Don't listen to inner K: I survived homelessness, physical attacks, loss of family because I chose to live for me i.e. transition. I survived rape repeatedly. I survived one of the deadliest storms in history; Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. So you see despite all the trauma I've experienced. I'm still here. My experiences only made me more compassionate & stronger. I do outreach because I love what I do; but most importantly I believe that what I do is making a difference! A positive impact in other lives. I've been through too much and come too far to give up now. In the past, I let fear of failure and fear of rejection hold me back. Not anymore.

BH: How may the readers contact you/your organization? FB/Email/IG/etc..

K: FB:Kegine’s outreach for the homeless Email:kegine49@gmail.com, IG:K.O.F.T.H

BH: Before we begin can you tell me a little about yourself? (anything you are comfortable with sharing)

D: Well my name is Dom. I identify as Queer/Trans. I like that acronym and it's funny because I can tell you about transitioning because I've been through many. I am someone who has transitioned through a lot early in life. We moved around alot, so from housing to different schools and friends, and even different jobs. I’ve transitioned through many relationships. This hormone replacement therapy (HRT) barely qualifies; it is simply the way I let the outside world see who was inside of me all along.

BH: I am aware you have been apart of the LGBTQ+ for over 10 years; what where some of the negative stereotypes you faced when 1st coming out? How did you handle them?

D: 10 years lol has it been that long? I think one of the big ones is the assumed heteronormativity. Before my current transition I came out as a lesbian and it was always a question of whose the man & whose the woman? Even now, people look at me like since you’re the man all these things must be true of your relationship. I generally combat them by always living my truth. If it better suits me or our situation to stay home, do laundry and cook then I do just that.

BH: How has being true to your authentic self changed your personal relationships with friends and family?

D: My family despite being on the homophobic side accepts me for who i am. However, my truth has had some unexpected effects. My brother who has spent a great deal of time in prison and has been very vocal about his negative feelings toward transitioning supported me one hundred percent. He has been my voice and backbone to other family members. He confessed to me that he heard stories from people he’d seen transitioning in prison but it did not resonate with him until it was me. His sibling; someone he loved. That now makes him think before bashing or disagreeing because he thinks about how he wants others to treat me. That feels really amazing. Another piece is, the strain brought upon my relationship with my mother. She has always been my best friend and confidant. I never thought anything could or would come between us; so when I say her reaction was shocking that is definitely an understatement.

BH: What are some negative stereotypes have you had to face in your personal life that have positively impacted your drive and passion?

D: One that I’ve had to deal with most often is Trans men are still

women. Once someone finds out I’m a man of transition they will revert back or try to feminize me in some way. I think that drives me more to walk into who I am. Even though I have nothing to prove to anyone when I wake up; I present to the world the full me as I see me! How I’ve always seen me. Now they do too! Even if it's hard to admit or grasp I can see it and feel it. The overall respect level has changed and that has positively impacted me personally, mentally and my life as a whole. D: Esteem equates to respect. Empowerment equates to motivation and motivators. Worth is value. So the operative and reoccurring word is self; how can I get myself to do these things? How can I get myself to understand that while I'm seeking these things from other people I deserve them from me too. How can I make that happen each day? Well I can tell you that honestly it doesn’t happen everyday. The days that it does I don’t only acknowledge, I celebrate because the more I see it on the inside the more my confidence on the outside commands. I am valuable. I am respectable. Each day and opportunity is motivation enough. In fact I’d like to thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

BH: What are some key skills and tips for overcoming negative stereotypes?

D: One key thing is that stereotypes don’t just come from out of thin air; the one way to beat something is to learn about it. Figure out the origins, the hows and the whys to its existence. Then debate from the other end of the spectrum, step out of your comfort zone. Only then can you rise above and really overcome and not be taken down.

What is your definition of “True Resilience Against Negative Stereotypes†? Can you give me an example?

Me /You, all of our peers. Look at where we came from and how we are all doing now. We have paved a new path. We own businesses and we are motivators and innovators. A generation they wrote off! We picked up a pen and re-wrote the story. That is true resilience against negative stereotypes.Â

What advice or support would you offer to someone who is struggling with negative stereotypes and self worth?

You are not your whole race, your whole family, your whole team. You do not have to answer for everyone, the only one thing you can control is you. Whatever life throws at you, it's your reaction you can control. It's okay to be slow to reaction and quick to analyze the situation. Make the best plan for you. Selfish is not always bad.

What is the best part about being true to yourself?Â

That there is only one me and everyday I am adequately depicting and projecting that person to the world.

How may the readers contact you/your organization? FB/ Email/IG/etc..

FB: FreeDom McCloud IG: iboostclotheshoe