November 30 2015

trans-awareness-month-em-travis“I was born and raised in poverty, so poverty is all that I see. Poverty is all that I sense around me… Some moments I try, I try so hard to scrub myself clean. Although when I cleanse my soul, my inner true being, it feels as if I am using something metal to scrape the unfit parts that portray who I’m supposed to be. In which causes me to witness my own lively veins to bleed. Eventually over time, I let my wounds heal. Meanwhile, I stand stuck in the same frame of mind watching myself once more become covered in filth.”

Above is a poem I wrote at the age of 12 as a homework assignment for English class. We were studying the beginning of the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance, which is when I was introduced to one of the most influential people of color poets of all time James Mercer and Langston Hughes. My life growing up as a queer, pansexual, trans man of color is a story to tell itself; but then again, who hasn’t lived a host of novel experiences that push them to be resourceful? We all tell the same storybook of life that are just written by different authors. As humans, we all share the same vision of reality yet do not visualize the same actuality. Each exposing different angles of perceptions due to individual insights.

I didn’t come from a systematically easy or economically pleasant background. My family life was very dysfunctional; we’ve had our ups and downs as any typical family. Don’t get me wrong there was a lot of good memories from when I was young. I was adopted by my grandparents basically at birth because my mother was unstable, going in and out of prison due to her struggles with dangerous addictions and untreated mental illness and then my father, unfortunately, was never a part of the family picture. No matter how much trauma I encountered, I am and always will be thankful for what my grandparents provided for me.

One of the most devastating moments of my life was when I was detained at the age of sixteen, states away and far from home. I honestly felt fed up with my chaotic lifestyle but in this moment of truth I realized life was only turning into something more life altering than I would’ve ever imagined. I revisit the lessons from that heartache and tragedy because I truthfully know that time of my life was what led me to my current journey. Enclosed in such a petrifying institution, mainly in your own cell block all day every day for extended periods of time, one does not find relaxation or contentment. You face the unseen realities within yourself. From enduring this sporadic experience I must say to analyze your true inner-being without devaluing your time, it’s an awakening to the mind that seems exquisitely unexplainable.

Yet if it wasn’t for all the crying in bathroom stalls, the self-harm, panic attacks, the extraordinary amount of suicide attempts and those bullies knocking me down harder each time, I don’t think I would stand as proud as I do today or be able to say I have the resilience I’ve maintained. Sharing my individual story makes me feel like I am achieving my dream of enlightening people to expand their thinking of what’s traditionally known as “unnatural” or “taboo.” Topics of everyday discussions will inspire people to better understand difference, rather than despising what they don’t directly know or shaming the characteristics of it. Every human-being was born with a purpose to fulfill in life, and I believe that purpose is to achieve whatever you desire or dream the most. Personally, I hadn’t acknowledged this conceptual meaning of reality until I was at my lowest peak of self-recklessness and mindless state of misery. Attaining this profound happy-medium of all my surroundings conveys a crystal clarity to my own destined dreams. How could I participate within the society I envision while striving for tranquility around me?

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