I had the opportunity to interview Blossom Brown, who is a transgender woman who has appeared in the national spotlight on the show “I Am Cait” with Caitlyn Jenner. I have to be honest… When I was younger growing up I knew no gay or transgender people and I was very ignorant of what people within this community go through, so I think it’s important to have these conversations. Whether you agree or not, the world has become more accepting of the LGBT community and I think it’s important to realize that regardless of what you believe, we are all humans at the end of the day.
Q: You have a lot of people out there who say that being gay is a choice. So I guess my first question is did you always know? And if not when did you know?
A: I think I’ve always kind of always known… My first memories are in kindergarten. I’d do little things like take a crayon and color my nails and my toes, but being so young and never having been exposed to anything like that, I didn’t know what was going on with me. The thing is… When you ask me are people more born or do they choose to be gay, I think you’re more born, and I think it’s more individual, how you feel and your attractions, and whether or not you decide to go on those attractions. In high school I came out as gay, but it still didn’t quite feel right. I was more bisexual because I still liked women, but had more of an attraction to men. Coming out in Jackson , Mississippi, I was pretty much ripped and torn to pieces because back then… 10 years ago being gay was still pretty much a kind of a taboo thing. Some of my female friends supported me though.
Q: When did you decide you identified more as a female?
A: I really started coming into my truth around the age of 20. I used to basically leave the house dressed as a woman and by the time I would come back home I’d be dressed as a guy. But even as a guy my style was more androgynous. It was really hard and I needed hormones. So I ended up ordering offline from a company in Europe because I didn’t know of any doctors that could prescribe them in Mississippi. So I came out as trans, and I also joined a gay family. That’s basically a group of gay friends that form a family. You have a dad, mom, brothers, sisters , cousins… Because what happens a lot of times when people come out, their family rejects them. So it’s good to have an inner circle of people that love and support you no matter what.
Q: There’s a lot going on right now in our state of Mississippi as far as laws being passed that many people feel are discriminatory against the LGBT community. If you had to explain to somebody what laws were passed, what would you tell them ?
A: Honestly, I would say it’s hate towards the LGBT community. I feel like the community was singled out… I also feel like you are telling people in interracial relationships the same thing. You’re putting one group of people on a pedestal and that’s not fair. I have no problem with anyone of the Christian faith. But there are people who want to use it for something else when it should be a faith of love.
Q: Well, let’s go a little further into the law because I think there’s a lot of people who don’t understand what it says. Does it say that because you’re a Christian you can turn someone away from any business you have?
A: Basically, what the law is saying is that if you are a Christian business owner, you don’t have to serve anyone of the LGBT community if it goes against your personal beliefs. Let’s say someone owns a bakery, and a gay couple wants a cake for their wedding. You can deny them service because the actual ceremony goes against your religious beliefs. And Phil Bryant’s way of thinking is “If they don’t serve you, you can go somewhere else.”
Q: What about if a preacher is forced to marry a gay couple? A lot of people would say that a preacher has deeply held beliefs and it’s unfair to force him or her to officiate a service between a couple of the same-sex.
A: Honestly, I feel that when you are called to serve the public, then you are called to serve the public. It’s not your place to judge their relationship. A lot of those same preachers that won’t marry a gay couple won’t marry an interracial couple. Love is love it has no sexual orientation or gender identity. Basically, all these businesses should just do the business transaction and then go on about their day.
Q: You said something that brings me to another issue that I hear all the time. You brought up interracial relationships in the same sentence as gay relationships. There are a lot of people who get very offended when the gay rights issue is compared to the black civil rights movement in this country. What’s your opinion on that?
A: Back in the 60s with everything our parents went through, discrimination was in the form of race. Now, discrimination is also in the form of gender identity. They are both about civil rights. As a transgender black woman, I’m in both minorities. I have to deal with white privilege on one hand and male privilege with my gender identity. Discrimination takes on many forms. Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer… all these people fought to make blacks feel equal and like everyone else. That’s all the LGBT community wants as well. Hell, I’m black but I mainly get bullied by other blacks. So we could get into a whole conversation about this, but the fight was a little harsher back then… Civil rights link the two.
Q: I’m glad to get your take on that. What are some of the main hardships that people wouldn’t know about in the transgender community?
A: Unemployment is super high in the black trans community. Also, another thing is homelessness. Honestly, we have to survive and sometimes the girls fall into sex work, prostitution… They have to make money and keep a roof over their head. And also get the adequate resources they need to be a trans woman.
Q: You came into national attention appearing on “I Am Cait ” with Caitlyn Jenner. How did you become a part of that ?
A: I used to do volunteer work for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Around the time that Caitlyn had just did the interview with Dianne Sawyer and let the world know she was transitioning, I was in D.C. at a conference. The president of The E! network heard me speak and asked me would I want to have a conversation with Caitlyn. So a week later, I ended up flying out to San Francisco and got a chance to talk to Caitlyn in person. I ended up telling her about my struggles getting into nursing school 6 or 7 times due to me being trans. Caitlyn ended up surprising me and bringing me on The Ellen (DeGeneres) Show, which was amazing and really a dream come true because I’ve been an Ellen fan since I was a kid. Ellen’s a great person and she’s exactly the same in person as she seems on tv.
Q: What kind of impact do you feel that Caitlyn Jenner has had on the transgender community?
A: I think it brought more attention to the transgender community for someone of her stature to transition. She was a great athlete… an Olympian. So it was a really big deal for someone with that kind of media spotlight to transition. It also opened more doors for discussion on trans issues.
Q: There were critics of Caitlyn Jenner who said she had access to all the best when it comes to transitioning, so she really doesn’t truly understand the struggle of being a transgender woman. What’s your thoughts on that?
A: Well, I think it’s very important to keep the conversation of white privilege and white supremacy open. Yes, Caitlyn is very privileged. Yes, it’s very true that she will never fully understand the trans struggle because she hasn’t necessarily experienced the trans struggle. She had her name changed very quickly. The typical trans person that wants their name changed has to wait 6 months to a year just to get a court date! But I do think Caitlyn understands her privilege more now because of the girls and I being on the show and explaining it to her. I made it very clear to her that her socioeconomic status makes a big difference. But she doesn’t want to be THE voice of the community she wants to be A voice of the community.
Q: Do you want to do anything else in entertainment?
A: Yes, I do. But my education is very important too. So I kind of have to juggle both. But I definitely want to do some directing and acting and other things, but I want to do it to give a platform to other trans people and basically give back. And I’m moving to Los Angeles. I’ll be 30 this year, so I figured… why not now?
Q: Okay. Let’s get into this bathroom issue because this is something I hear people talking about a whole lot. A lot of parents are saying they don’t want a man to be dressed as a woman and be able to go into a women’s bathroom. They’ve expressed concern for their children, especially their daughters. Many people have also expressed other concerns about it. Do you have any thoughts on this issue?
A: To me, when people say that, they are giving pedophiles ideas! People have probably used a restroom with a trans person already and didn’t even know it because that’s not bathroom conversation. I think it’s just crazy and unfair that trans people have been thrust into this issue when we were just minding our own business. Because we have a lot more major issues going on in our everyday lives than just the bathroom.
Q: Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me for this interview.
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