Finding Myself in Philly

Photo by Victoria Elizabeth

Being surrounded by your community is sometimes just what you need to find yourself.

A week ago, I attended the 2018 Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference. This was my first time going and I have to say it was an experience that everyone should have. There was so much for me to process. I was at the conference to work for Transgender Universe, as we shot some amazing interviews that will soon be up on the website if they are not up already. I met a ton of great people and came to some realizations about myself, who I am, and where I am going.

This is not the first time I have been in a place where I have been surrounded by my trans brothers and sisters, but this was the first time I was in a setting as large as this. And from the first day, I felt a presence of positivity that I have never been around before.

The first thing I noticed walking around the conference were my trans sisters and brothers of color, and the way we greeted each other both in the hallways and on the conference floor. As a group, we made it a point to acknowledge each other. Sometimes with a look or a wave, but most of the time with a “hello” or “you look amazing, I am glad you are here.” As I don’t have a lot of contact with my part of our community (something I would like to change as a woman of color), I need to have more people like myself in my life. Up until this point, I have shunned away from my sisters because of my past of having not been accepted by the African American community. Like so many other experiences I had at the conference, I know now that for me to move forward in life, I need to let go of the past and not be afraid of what happened before to take my life back.


Staying with that theme, I did meet some great people. Some in passing and some who I spent time with. People I feel I made a connection with. By connecting with them, I made an even more important connection with myself. I started to look at myself, into the parts of my mind where I was scared to look because I was afraid of what I may find. What I found is something I have danced around all my life, the person I am.

Photo by Victoria Elizabeth

What I found was the scared kid who always knew they were different, who had a breast reduction at 13 years old. Who did just enough to get by in the background, and by doing so never took a chance. The person who when they reached High School, convinced themselves that they were living when they were just taking up space on this mud ball we call earth. I said once before that finding yourself could be a violent experience. It could if you are fighting the person you really are and instead trying to be the person you think you are.


I remember the moment it happened, the moment I came to church, when the final wall came down in my mind of walls. We met a group of amazing trans men and women from North Carolina. I call them the “North Carolina Trans Mafia.” It was at dinner with them when over good food and more drinks than I care to remember, a feeling came to me. I had a feeling that I belong. That this is my community, they are my people, and that this was me at that moment in this place. For the first time in my life, I was not keeping any part of me hidden away. I knew right then that my life needs to change, that it’s now or never. I realized I have to take the leap I have been battling myself over. The only thing holding me back from living is myself holding onto a lie. I have been too scared to let go. So just like a simple light switch, the war I have been fighting for 44 years in my mind had ended. Not in a violent blaze of emotion, but in a fade to black moment like the end of a Star Trek episode.

So what now for me? I don’t know where the road ahead will lead, but I do know some of the stops I will make on the way. Transitioning: I don’t know what that looks like for me. The only thing I know I want to change right now is my chest, and that is just putting back what was supposed to be there in the first place. I know for some, the next step is hormones; something that I don’t want to do. Other than a few things, I am happy with who I am. For I am Victoria Elizabeth, a smart, creative, powerful trans person of color who is about to be unleashed upon the world.