You may have heard a bit of my story on I am Cait or even caught my speech last year at the HRC National Dinner, but, in case you haven’t, I am Blossom Brown. I am a Mississippian. I am a Christian. I am a public health student. I am an HRC volunteer. And I am a transgender woman of color.
When I was little, I knew there was something different about me, but it wasn’t until I was about 19 years old that I realized I might be transgender. When I moved out of the house I began to transition. I went off to a community college and then moved on the Mississippi University for Women. Finally, I was able to live my life as I want to in Mississippi.
This year, I will graduate from undergrad. I hope to move on to nursing school, though I say “hope” because I’ve applied to six programs. I was convinced I would get accepted. But after the first time, I didn’t get in. I thought maybe I needed to boost my GPA, so I did that and tried again. The next time, I tried for two different nursing programs and still didn’t get in. I kept applying and applying, up until about the sixth time and still nothing. My grades were as good or better than my peers getting in, I was doing everything I needed to do – and I kept getting rejected.
It kind of dawned on me that the most likely reason is because I’m trans. I started publicly transitioning the year I applied to nursing school and I think that negatively affected the school’s decision.
Nevertheless, I continue to push through and to fight for my dreams. I seek motivation and comfort in Ellen DeGeneres, who is my hero. I tell myself to live like her: Be kind and stay optimistic. I never gave up. I never will.
I could hardly believe it when, after meeting Caitlyn Jenner and telling her my story, she said she was going not only pay for my nursing school but to reach out to Ellen. And when I found out I was going to actually be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, I could still hardly believe it. Meeting Ellen and experiencing her generosity, it was all such a beautiful surprise. And now my dream of being a trans health advocate with an official nursing degree is one step closer. I have many blessings in my life – and I am beyond grateful for the generosity of both Ellen and Caitlyn and all the angels in my life who remind me of the power of living our truth.
The decision to live openly comes easily to no one. There is not one day when I don’t wake up, get dressed and think that I might be a target. The statistics bare this out. At least 19 transgender people – almost all of them women of color like me – have been murdered this year in the United States.
But I know change is coming. And I know that the power of sharing our truths is an enormous part of helping that change come. Even despite the real challenges I experience in being public, I have not one regret and am standing strong in my truth.
If you are trans and reading this, my message to you is this: we deserve to be here, just like everyone else. Never cheat yourself out of this world because people refuse to accept you. Continue to live your truth – however that feels right to you. Embrace yourself, and keep your head held high. We are in this together!