Friends, it is with joy and pride that I announce that I am stepping down from my post as the Director of Heartland Trans Wellness Group. Seven years ago, I stumbled into the “real world” of community organizing with a dream to address a lack of trans resources. Soon, I was teaching a workshop outside of Cincinnati for the first time. Afterwards, a nervous young person approached me with tears in their eyes and said, “This is the first time I have ever been in the same room as someone like me.” Looking at this person, I could see myself. I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to building resources that empower trans people to help ourselves find each other, support each other, access health and wellness care, and obtain the rights and recognition we deserve.
In all honesty, I had no idea if I could do it; many days I still wonder at how the project has come so far. Looking back, specific things stick out in my memory: the first time I pressed “publish” for the website; hosting support group meetings in my shabby living room; the first time a stranger asked me for help; the first phone call the organization ever received; the first faces coming to meetings; the first moments I truly felt I could help someone. I remember the desperation I felt when there were so few options to provide. I remember the first time I could say, “Yes, I have a resource for that.” The first time I could say, “Yes, I have a place where you can go.” I remember being angry at things not changing fast enough; I remember unadulterated gratitude for the little victories of a smile or a thank you. I remember the first time someone said, “I want to work with you,” and that person was Jonah Yokoyama. It doesn’t feel like it’s only bee two years since I went from being a staff of one, to that of two. I still laugh at the strange, but delightful novelty of going to start a task only to find that Jonah had already done it. Jonah, thank you for helping me grow my dream into an full organization that serves our people. I always knew I would not want to be a non-profit director forever, but I can’t imagine being able to hand my ‘baby’ over to anyone but you. Thank you for taking Heartland into its next chapter in life. I am grateful. I am happy. I know with your leadership, it will continue to help people in ways I always dreamed it would.
The work I have done at Heartland has provided me with the most fulfilling moments of my life. Thank you to every person who has supported me; the ones who assured me I could do this; who listened to me vent and cry on the bad days and celebrated and hugged me on the good ones. Most of all, I am eternally grateful to every trans person who has ever trusted me to lend a hand; and to every partner, every parent, every friend. My life has been greatly defined by the gifts you have given me. For the last seven years, you have empowered me with purpose. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve you, and our people. I will still be helping out with CTCG in the coming months, and no matter what, I will always do my best to be there for you whenever you may need me. I am looking ahead to the many amazing activist adventures we will have together in the future. I am sure they will be just as amazing as the last seven years have been at Heartland Trans* Wellness Group. Yay *Little Flags*