Friday, February 2, 2018

Lucy Hicks Anderson (1886-1954)

It's February and that means it's also Black History Month. There's so much I never learned growing up about my ancestors and I'm still playing catch up. However, being mom to Trinity, I realized not only did I want her and her brothers to know about the amazing figures in Black history, but Black Trans history as well. So I'm going to take this month to share some of the amazing figures of Black Trans history (past and present) that are the reasons my daughter thrives today as a beautiful black trans teen. 

First up, Lucy Hicks Anderson

Lucy Hicks Anderson lived as a woman in Oxnard, California, from 1920 until 1945, when it was discovered that she was biologically male. Today she might be described as a transgender person, but that term did not exist during her lifetime. Although she did not refer to herself as a transgendered person, she insisted publicly that a person could appear to be of one sex but actually belong to the other.

Tobias Lawson was born in Waddy, Kentucky. When Lawson entered school she insisted on wearing dresses and began calling herself Lucy. Her mother took her to a physician, and the doctor advised her mother to rear Lucy as a girl. Lucy left school at the age of fifteen to work as a domestic. When she was in her twenties, she moved west, settling in Pecos, Texas, where she worked in a hotel for a decade. In 1920 Lucy married Clarence Hicks in Silver City, New Mexico, and then moved to California. In Oxnard she continued to work as a domestic, but she also saved her money, purchased property near the center of town, and operated a brothel. Lucy divorced Hicks in 1929. In 1944 she married Reuben Anderson, a soldier stationed at Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York.

When it was discovered that Lucy was biologically male, the Ventura County district attorney decided to try her for perjury. According to the district attorney, she had committed perjury when she signed the application for a marriage license, swearing that there were “no legal objections to the marriage.” Lucy challenged the authority of physicians who insisted that she was male. “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman,” Anderson told reporters in the midst of her perjury trial. “I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman.” A jury convicted her, but the judge placed her on probation for ten years rather than send her to prison.

Lucy had received allotment checks as the wife of a member of the U.S. Army. The Federal government prosecuted both Reuben Anderson and Lucy Hicks Anderson for fraud in 1946. Both were found guilty and sentenced to prison. After her release from prison, Anderson tried to return to Oxnard, but the local police chief told her to leave town or risk prosecution. She lived the remainder of her life in Los Angeles.

Frank P. Barajas, “Work and Leisure in La Colonia: Class, Generation, and Interethnic Alliances among Mexicanos in Oxnard, California, 189-1945,” Ph.D. diss., Claremont Graduate University, 2001. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Dear 14-years-old me, you're going to be just right for her

DeShanna at 14

Dear 14 years-old me,

Right now, you don't know that you're going to be a mother one day. All that you know is that you are struggling to hold a smile because of deep seated depression. A depression you dare not express to anyone because there's no reason for it. Right now, you're questioning if living matters, if you'll get into college. If you'll succeed in life so that your future will be better than your past and present. What you're not thinking about is being a mother.

You are struggling with eating because staying thin is the only thing you control. You wonder why the friends you have even like you and you hide so many other feelings. You contemplate a future but it's often bleak and filled with unknowns. But what you never imagined was being a mother.

And how could you?

You didn't like kids. You never wanted them. You knew for certain you'd be the worst kind of mother.

My dearest 14 years-old self, I'm here to tell you, that in 8 years you will be given that child you didn't think you could mother.

And I have news for you, 14 years-old me. In four years, she'll change your world. She'll tell you she's a girl and not a boy. She'll be a transgender child.

That may feel like too much and you'll laugh incredulously at the concept that you, the depressed, faking, starving, kid hating, teenager could possibly handle such a journey.

But know this. You will. You'll fight battles and stand with her. You'll advocate and find a strength you didn't know you had. That you believe you never had. You will love her fiercely.

You will do it. Because you, the one who believes you couldn't be a mother. Any mother. You will be her mother and you are going to be just right for her.

Thanks for not giving into the darkness 14-years-old me. 36-years-old you is glad you didn't.

P.S. We have FOUR amazing children who are changing the world.

Always together,


Monday, July 3, 2017

Why Do They Keep Killing Us? #SayTheirNames

The question posed by Trinity. She's only 13 and yet she knows that her world is not as innocent as she once thought it to be. She wants to know. I want to know. Tell us. Why have 15 trans people, mostly transgender women of color, been killed this year? Why are we seeing this? Tell us. Tell them. Tell her.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ally is a verb

I never considered myself an ally. When Trinity said she was a girl and we listened to her, I didn't see that as anything other than being a parent loving their child regardless of who they were or loved. And to be honest, being new to the journey of raising a transgender child, my soul was far too sensitive to try and fight those against her and our family's choice.

But that was then....

And this is now and I've become what is known as an advocate. But more than that. I'm an ally. 

Ally is often referred to as a noun in our English dictionary, but for me, and many others that I look up to, it's a verb. 

Being an ally, means working hard to amplify and uplift the voices of marginalized groups without centering. This can be a difficult task and often gets lost. Being an ally, however, means getting lost often and learning from that moment. It means being uncomfortable. It means knowing there are going to be many who will say things that are so hurtful you want to hide in a hole and just protect you and yours. But then, you can't be an ally. You can be an advocate and if that's easiest, that's okay. No one saying it's wrong. 

Don't take that sentiment personal. It's how I feel. I'm simply saying, when you go from advocate to ally, you are usually going from you and yours to all. And yeah, sometimes that means you're going to tick off a few on the way down.

In the end, it does make a difference. For so many, including you and yours. 

Always ready
Leading a new way
Learning from mistakes
Yelling for inclusivity, diversity, and intersectionality


This Thursday evening at 7pm I'll be talking on a live stream for Black Lives Matter Boston. Would love to have many tune in for discussion about being a woman of color raising a transgender teen girl of color. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Updates and a special announcement!

Hi everyone!

It's been busy for me and the family. Trinity is bunkering down hard to get prepared for high school in the fall of 2018. It's a very accepting and affirming place and based primarily for STEM loving students.

Trinity has also been busy becoming bit of a local celebrity here in our little state of Delaware and I couldn't be prouder of seeing her reach so many. Changing hearts and minds is what she does best and it's always an honor to witness that first hand.

If you check out the blog, I have extra links at the top where you can find everything we've done and will be doing in the near future. It's a lot of exciting stuff, let me tell you!

One of the most amazing announcements to share is....*drum roll*

Trin and I are now being represented by Naomi Davis of Inkling Literary Agency for two picture books we wrote together titled, "Trinity's Truth & Trinity's Question". We are SUPER excited!

Trinity was also featured in a two part documentation of her life with our local news paper which was then picked up by USA Today (you can find the link on the Advocacy Work page).

Trin has also started estrogen and I've seen such an amazing change in her behavior. She's confident, stronger (she's always been strong but a pure sense of self), and simply the girl, well young woman, she's always known herself to be. 

On my end, I've been lobbying for LGBTQ  youth and their rights in DC and in my own state, gave testimony to ban conversion therapy. This past Sunday, my state held an Equality march to coincide with the Capitol Pride march in DC. I had the honor of being a guest speaker.

So that's some of everything for now. I'll update as more amazing news happens! Thanks everyone for standing in support for Trinity and our family.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

That Time She Quietly Made History #GenderRevolution #GirlOnFire #BlackGirlMagic #MakingHistory

Trinity is THIRTEEN now. I can't believe it. And this year, will be officially ten years she has lived as her authtentic self. So much has happened in one year that our heads are still spinning but we don't dare stop speaking out and representing a marginalized group within society. I can't possibly express the pride I have when I watch my daughter's presence inspire others.

Recently, she and I got to go to the White House and meet President and First Lady Obama. So amazing of an experience. The First Lady told Trinity that she was beautiful! 

In front of the White House

Also, Trinity was featured in the National Geographic issue on Gender Revolution where it states something not many outside of family and friends knew about. 

Showing her image found in National Geographic

You see, this image is Trinity waiting while her pediatric endocrinologist inputs information before her Lupron injection. This is a medication she receives every three months to suppress puberty. What many didn't know is that her getting to this point did not come easy. In fact, she had to fight for the very medication that would save her from depression, anxiety, and dysphoria. 

Our family is on Medicaid and we weren't sure how this would work in terms of getting the puberty blockers. Truth be told, I assumed it wouldn't be an issue. Yet it was. And we had to fight being denied. And we did. Because I'm a mama bear and my daughter's happiness is everything to me. 

After eight months and several letters AND an appeal hearing later, my daughter not only won, but she also became the first minor in the state of Delaware to be approved by Medicaid to cover her transition. 

History made by a minor. A trans kid of color at that and not many knew. But I knew. Her friends knew. Family knew. Her doctors knew. And she is our hero for sure because of it!

Like that wonderful song by Alicia Keys, Girl On Fire, Trinity, my beautiful girl, is just a girl and she's on fire. Making changes for all and remaining humble and authentic as always.

Credit: Artist Quinn Chen

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Her Mom, Her Champion, Hers Always

When I was a child, I never expected that one day I’d be a mother. Having children of my own was the furthest thing from my mind. I honestly couldn’t envision being responsible enough to raise children. So when the time came that my husband and I were ready to start a family, we vowed to be the best parents we could. We read all the parenting books we could, researched child development articles, and made mental notes of all the milestones we needed to look for. None of these books, however, explained what to do when our three and a half year old child began telling us she was a girl, not a boy. I was a young mother, and new to this world of parenting so my reaction was one part immerse myself in any research I could find, which was little help, and one part freak out and call the doctor.

Luckily my pediatrician was supportive. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to assist a child expressing a difference in gender identity than the one assigned at birth. Like us, she didn’t know how to handle a transgender child--what we eventually realized our child was--so she sent us to speak with a developmental psychologist. By then, around late 2006-early 2007, our almost four year old child adamantly identified as female, but there weren’t many medical professionals who agreed a young child could be transgender. The ones we did meet with told us our child’s “gender confusion” was a product of me being a stay-at-home mom and my husband not being masculine enough to model proper male behavior. These “experts” quoted studies that were either extremely outdated or bogus research conducted by anti-transgender organizations.

Constant Sadness (Age 3 1/2, 2006)

Being bombarded with less than accepting rhetoric, and as a young mother who constantly doubted myself, almost should have been enough to keep me from truly hearing my daughter. Indeed, I almost listened to this professional. Fear and lacking educational resources nearly had me shut down my child’s insistent, consistent, and persistent declarations. I was almost scared into submission by wild claims about my child’s mental well-being and future happiness I almost stopped her.
Fortunately, that’s not how this path ended. Now, almost ten years later, I am blessed to witness the happiness of my daughter Trinity, as she blossoms into a beautiful young woman.  Every scenario the psychologist laid out—of my child’s inevitable confusion and pain—didn’t happen. And yet, as a mother, who works hard at protecting her while giving her the wings to fly, never would I had realized just how vital my decision to choose her over the naysayers would be.

Finally HER! (age 4, 2007)
Recently, Trinity told me of a dream she had where she found herself lost in a large city. Scared she ran from shadow monsters spewing words of hate in regards to who she was. She explained how she cried and fled, unsure where to turn. She prayed someone would come to help her. It was then, the sky cleared and the monsters turned away, and suddenly dispersed. When she looked to see what frightened them, there I stood. I had my hand held out to her and told her to not worry. I smiled and asked her to be brave, and then led her home.
As my daughter relayed this vivid dream of hers, I experienced a multitude of emotions. I couldn’t form words. So, I did what I’ve always done for her: I listened. Smiling she told me, “My dream reminded me that no matter how many monsters are around me, I have you to show me how to be brave and to lead me home.”

Heading to NY and all smiles

Thinking of Trinity’s dream makes me reflect on my initial uncertainty as how to best support her. She has been my child for thirteen years, my daughter for almost a decade, and I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring. The beginning of my journey was filled with people who questioned her ability to speak with such clarity about who she was. Ones who used scare tactics meant to create fear, anxiety, and doubt. Methods that were meant to stop me, and stop her. But I wouldn’t fall.

So I ask new parents to this journey, to just breathe. Some articles will be filled with data that are against children socially transitioning. Some people will make comments that are meant to create doubt.  Don’t let that deter you. I’ve been there as well so do know how acceptance is so very important to trans children. Because for me doing just that, I have been gifted with an amazing kid. This girl of mine has taught me so much more than how to simply parent, but also how to listen with unconditional love. And she has taught me that when she has a world of so many great leaders, activists, and celebrities which she could have looked up to, it’s me she sees as her hero. She has shown me how to be a better parent, and a better person. The person who never gives up on her. The person who she has to turn to. Who see her. The one who will always choose her. My Trinity

My Trinity