In 5th grade, my teacher read us an article about the first transgender man to give birth. Hearing his perspective and experience, I thought, “Oh, I’m like him.” It was in the back of my head since then, but I didn’t come out until my freshman year of high school. I was tired of being deadnamed – people using the name I was assigned at birth, not the name I identify with.
I am a single mom and love spending time with my kids. They always come first. I was in an abusive and violent situation at home. My ex-husband told me that without immigration papers I had no rights and would lose my children if I complained. I’ve been here for 20 years, but I was scared and didn’t realize this wasn’t true. He thought I would leave him if I gained citizenship.
Three years ago, I came up from Oregon to get my life together. I remodeled casinos for 15 years until I lost my hand in a work-related accident. I lost my job and during my time in the hospital, I lost a lung and became addicted to opioids. They told me I had 3-4 years to live...I was basically living to die.
I was a fully active person who loved working with kids until I contracted H1N1 during the 2009 pandemic. I had severe complications, including amputations to parts of my hands and feet. Suddenly, I was someone who was always tired and in pain. The illness gobbled up my insurance and ran up our debts.
I think people would be shocked to know that I’m a senior citizen living in a housing control building and I was almost made homeless because my cat was seen outside without a leash. NJP wrote a letter to the housing authority telling them that what they were doing was illegal. Without that legal knowledge, I wouldn’t have known that housing was breaking the law and wouldn’t have been able to fight the eviction.
Growing up in an abusive home, drugs were part of the life I always knew. As I got older, I made a bad choice and turned to drugs myself. I met my husband at a dealer’s house. Things were fine until we started using more and he became violent.