Since November 2010, Lambda Legal has partnered with StoryCorps Atlanta to collect the stories of trans and gender non-conforming individuals, people who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. To date, 20 people have shared their stories through Lambda Legal’s Trans Tell Your Story Project.
Holiday Simmons, Lambda Legal’s national community educator, travels the country to inform people of LGBTQ issues. In his trainings for law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, and teachers, he uses audio from the Trans Tell Your Story Project to bring voices of trans and gender non-conforming individuals into each session.
Lambda Legal recently hosted an event to share some of the stories they’ve collected and to encourage others to share their own. After listening to excerpts from the conversations, A.J. Jones, the project’s coordinator, invited several participants to share their experiences of recording their stories.
The panel began with participants describing why they decided to record with StoryCorps and the Trans Tell Your Story Project. “Our community does not get the respect and acknowledgement deserved,” Cheryl Courtney-Evans answered. “It’s 2012, but most people haven’t been introduced to a transgender man or woman, that they know of. In order for there to be services, police, and legislation [for our community], there needs to be more representatives of the trans community. People need to get an idea of our numbers. I’ll be one voice, part of the number.”
Tracee McDaniel participated in StoryCorps to “debunk the over-the-top stereotypes from Jerry Springer.” She added, “I want others to know that isn’t who we are as a community.”
Others decided to participate because they also do not see images in the media that reflect who they are. “Growing up, I didn’t have anything relatable,” reflected Kendall Brown. “I don’t encounter a lot of images of gender queer communities of color,” said another member of the panel, who preferred to remain anonymous. “I want our narrative pushed to the front so people can see there’s not one way of expressing masculinity or femininity.”
Like the Trans Tell Your Story Project, StoryCorps Atlanta hopes to educate more people about the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming individuals by recording and sharing these stories. In return, people who identify as trans and gender non-conforming will begin to hear more stories that reflect their own life experiences.
Click here for the story of Lee Rushing, a transgender man who tells his partner of what it was like to “realize his physical body didn’t match who he knew himself to be on the inside.” This segment was edited by Atlanta’s WABE and was broadcast during Morning Edition and City Cafe.