We continue our series of conversations with the ILTA Literary Café Event participating panelists. Up next is Dr. Elijah Nicholas. Assigned the female sex at birth, 10-time published author Dr. Elijah Nicholas spent over half of his life in the US Military, retiring as a Lt Col in 2012. Transitioning from female to male in 2018 manifested because Dr. Elijah could no longer live his core values: Authenticity, Integrity, and Transparency. After retiring from the military and then leading ministers and pastors around the globe, Dr. Elijah found it most befitting to resign his duties as a pastoral leader in 2018, just before he began his gender reassignment.
Dr. Elijah holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, Masters in Business Administration, Masters in Adult Education & Training, a Masters in Military Operational Art & Leadership, and Bachelors of Science in Administration of Justice. He currently resides in Atlanta, where he continues to be a Spiritual Advisor, Light Coach, and Mentor. He is a member of the Atlanta Veterans Administration (VA) Mental Health Advisory Committee and the OUT Georgia Business Alliance’s TGNC360 (Transgender, Non-Gender Conforming) Advisory Committee.
He is the founder of Dr. Elijah Nicholas Ministries, LLC, The Dr. Elijah Nicholas Foundation, and other ventures. Dr. Elijah provides keynote speaking, does trans advocacy work, and offers organizational training on gender identity and transgender and non-binary inclusion. Here’s what he shared with us.
PrideIndex (PI): Why did you become a writer?
Dr. Elijah Nicholas (DEN): I’ve been writing now for about 12 years. I’ve always had an aspiration to write a book but not become a writer or author. In 2010, I started to write my memoir Didn’t Ask, Didn’t Tell: The Life of A Gay Christian Soldier. Before I retired, I started writing to tell my story because I didn’t want someone to do it.
PI: You were in the military during the Clinton administration and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy? Why did you join?
DEN: Absolutely. I served from 1987 to 2012. I had 24 years, ten months, and eight days of service. I joined the military when I was 17 years old because I wanted to travel. My brother and I were raised by a single mom. We had three options; go to school, get a job, or get out. The minimum wage was $3.05 at the time. I could not afford to go to school, so I took advantage of the military when they offered me a student loan. I went to school on the military’s dime and earned my educational degrees in the process.
PI: Thank you for your service. Which branch of the military did you serve?
DEN: You’re very welcome. I started in the Army in 1987. However, I retired from the Air Force in 2012.
PI: You wear many hats, is there one particular hat you love wearing more than the others?
DEN: It depends on the day. Somedays, I feel that my creative juices are flowing, and I feel like writing; on other days, when the other side of my brain flows, it means it’s time for me to speak. I’ve been blessed to not only wear many hats but to exercise all of the gifts that God has given me. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that there were more hats I could wear. I don’t have a favorite; if you will, I would say that my goal in everything that I do is to illuminate light around the world. And whatever spirit calls on me in any given moment to make that happen is what I do on that day.
PI: You’re a motivational speaker as well. How did that come about?
DEN: That’s something that I fell into, literally. I’ve always been a leader since I was a child. I found myself encouraged, inspiring, and motivating people. When I started thinking about what I would do after I retired from the military, I realized that I had been doing a lot of free coaching, motivating, and inspiring. I said I’m going to take this thing, and I’m going to see how I can hone in on these natural gifts, utilize them, make some money off of it, and be a blessing in the process. So, honestly, it’s a natural gift to have. I fell into it. I was also a pastor, a form of what I consider motivational or inspirational speaking. And so that was something that I did, from 2014 to 2018. That also helps me venture into motivational speaking.
PI: So you’re also a pastor. What denomination would that be?
DEN: My ministry is called Dr. Elijah Nicholas Ministries. It used to be called Kingdom International Ministries when it was Christian-based. And now it is Spirit-led and spirits based, I say that it’s more spiritual. I have principles that I practice, from almost every faith, if you will. I don’t operate in a denomination or a particular religion. I do what the spirit guides me to do. I affectionately call myself an ex-pastor because I left the church back in 2018 when I was a little perplexed about what God would have me to do next.
PI: Let’s talk about your writing work for a little bit. Describe the day in the life of writing. What does that entail for you?
DEN: My latest work is the last couple of books that I’ve done arch books. A day in the life of Dr. Elijah Nicholas goes like this nowadays; I greet my characters in the morning when I woke up. I have the luxury of taping up papers all over my apartment. They are plastered on my wall. I talk to them and, they helped me build the story. When I’m inspired to write, I sit down and write random things that I get from my characters and family. It’s an ongoing story because the children’s book is a series. I have pieces on my phone and computer. My day consists of what the spirit would have me do for the day, and if that’s writing or doing an interview with Philip, that’s what I do.
PI: I’m looking at your book on Amazon. It is a children’s book that talks about a ten-year-old girl whose uncle used to be her aunt. In a way, this is your transition story. Why did you decide to write your story as a children’s book?
DEN: When I started my transition, I identify as a Trans male, and I was born female transition to male in 2018. When I began my transition in 2017, with my mental health counseling, I was processing how to have a conversation with my nephews, nieces and baby cousins. I googled for online resources. There were no resources specifically with African American faces discussing gender identity, specifically the transgender experience. And so I said, I’m going to fill that gap. I’m going to write about it from a child’s perspective. It will be fueled with laughter and seriousness with the undertone of gravity. I would talk about pronoun usage in a joking way so that it’s understandable on the foundation level. Believe it or not, I’ve had many conversations with adults to have with children whose children get it. Because It is written from a family and children’s book perspective, I’m able to have conversations at the corporate-level, or in a University settings, and around boardroom tables with people who want to understand the Trans experience.
PI: How have your friends and family received your work?
DEN: It was tough for my mother; initially. Growing up in the church, particularly in the black church, Southern Baptist, it was challenging to come out. So I had two coming outs, right. And my second coming out with my mom was tough because she, in her mind, was losing a daughter in gaining a son. And so that was for her. I realized very early on this was not just my journey. It was the journey of my family, friends, and everyone I was connected to. It’s not as challenging as some of the stories I’ve heard from other people I have coached or counseled. I’m grateful for that. I have different friends than I had before I transition. I still have room for love and growth. I’ve had many ebbs and flows in the way I get through it by focusing on love; and creating positive experiences for others.
PI: What would you like for readers to retain from this book and your work?
DEN: When it comes to Madoodle and all of the writing that I do, I would like readers to retain the understanding, acceptance, and importance of love, or unconditional love and care is the most important thing. I believe there is a universal concept that we have if we can look at each other as humans if we can look at each other as spirits, having a human experience, and approach one another with love, and understand that we don’t have all the answers and an approach from a perspective of wanting to learn, wanting to learn in the spirit of love, that, I think is the answer that will move us forward in a peaceful world that we all I believe, aspire to live in
PI Who are some of your writing and creative mentors?
DEN: Wow. Wayne Dyer is my inspirational mentor. I love how he writes from a spiritual perspective. Marianne Williamson is my internet mentor because I like how she communicates the spirit’s message through her writing. A YouTube mentor of mine is the great Oprah Winfrey. I love how she can inspire people to do better and great things. Steve Harvey is also on the list; I love his concepts of faith, duality, and his unmatched grind.
PI: Where can I find The Elijah Nicholas show?
DEN: You can find my podcast ElijahNicholas.com or on my Facebook page. There are links for my past shows too. I’m on break now as I market my new book, Madoodle, The New Kid, which just came out in June. I am looking at bringing the show back in December or January, around the holiday season. I’m focused on getting my book out and getting an animated contract with a streaming company, prayerfully Disney, so that we can turn the Madoodle into an animated series.
PI: That is wonderful. It could fill that void or gap because there aren’t many resources from an African Americans’ perspective.
PI: Follow this and respond. The Armageddon is happening. Life on this planet will end as we know it. The aliens have come to rescue every person on Earth and to take them to Earth 2. You are given one hour to go and pack as much as you want, including works of only two authors. Which two author’s works would you choose to rescue?
DEN: I would take Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson because they’re Spirit-led. You made the point that life on Earth would never be the same; I believe that’s a thread in Dyer and Williamson’s writings. The fact is that life is new every single day. And we are born new every single day. As long as I can hold on to reading like that and know that whatever I’m experiencing today is not what I expect tomorrow, that will inspire me to keep going.
PI: What else would you like to share with us, our readers?
DEN: I’m a self-published author, so I would like folks to go to Amazon.com to purchase, read and review my new book. My goal is to normalize the trans experience. When I say normalize the trans experience, I look for the day where honestly, my work is no longer needed. And I’m off to a new journey exploring something new; it means that we have reached a new level of love and a new level of life, and trans experience, would be the human experience.
Meet Dr. Elijah Nicholas in person at the ILTA Literary Café Event on Saturday, September 4th at the Atlanta Marriott Suites Midtown, 35 14th St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 from 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm.