Stand and Deliver: A conversation with Trans Human Rights Advocate Tracee McDaniel

We continue our series of conversations with the ILTA Literary Café Event participating panelists. Up next is Tracee McDaniel. Tracee is a Trans Human Rights Advocate motivated by a strong desire to ensure that all Trans and Gender Nonconforming people receive equity, justice, civil and human rights protections.

In 2007, she participated in the march to Washington, DC, and lobbied the United States Congress to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and increased HIV/AIDS funding. Later that year, she founded the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc., an agency designed to empower the Trans and Gender non-conforming community. She has served on the Atlanta Police Department’s TLGBQI Advisory Board and Working Group on Prostitution after a local firm tried to ban Trans people from Midtown. Tracee received a RESOLUTION from the Georgia House of Representatives, commending her for receiving the Yellow Rose Nikki T. Randall Servant Leadership Award.

In 2013 she published Transitions-Memoirs of a Transsexual Woman, which follows her unordinary life growing up Trans in the South and eventually in 1990 escaping to Los Angeles, CA, to save her life from a domestically violent intimate partner relationship.

Currently, she serves on the Trans Housing Atlanta Program Board of Directors, Center for Civil and Human Rights TLGB Advisory Board, and Atlanta’s TLGBQI Advisory Council. She shared with PrideIndex what it means to “show up and participate for equality.”

PrideIndex (PI): Tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to becoming a writer.

Tracee McDaniel (TM):  My journey to becoming a writer has been incredible. Writing is a cathartic way to address the challenges, ups, and downs, highs and lows, of life. Most currently, writing helps me to release my frustrations about this pandemic. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, I’m really disappointed that had to postpone a trip home to visit my mother, due to the increased Delta Variant.

Writing my first project, a memoir on transition or memorization of a trans woman, is where I put all of my frustrations and joys.

PI: Walk me through your writing process. How do you nurture ideas, put them down on paper, and make them come to life?

TM: I brush my teeth first, because I believe that fresh breath creates fresh ideas. Since I’m currently writing about ancient Egypt and a month in 1987, I’m listening to Egyptian and Eighties music on rotation while I’m writing. I also prepare my writing labs by burning white sage or Frankincense and Myrrh to clear away negative energy, depending upon if I’m writing and sipping tea in my home office or outside in my screened comfort zone sanctuary.

PI: Name three people who have had the most influence over your writing style.

TM: My spouse, of course, inspires me. My family and my mother are definitely at the top of the list. Episodes of POSE inspire me. I can relate to the storylines of the show and the way they tell our stories. The writers of that show, the actors, Janet Mock, and other out people inspire me. The creativity of the new generation keeps me youthful.

PI: Let’s talk about your book. Describe the exact moment of epiphany when you knew without a doubt you needed to write this book?

TM: I saw our true history being erased and twisted, beginning with the EUNUCHS in the Bible and our contributions to the 1969 Stonewall riots.

PI: Who do your books speak to? What message would you like for that reader to retain?

TM: My book speaks to everyone, particularly the transgender, non-conforming, non-binary people, and parents of Trans people. People need to understand that we’re human beings too. That’s what I want readers to get from the book. We hope for a better future for ourselves in the pursuit of happiness, just like everyone else. We have these labels put on us by society, for whatever reason. We deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and have protection against the violence our community has faced for such a long time.

PI: Talk about your personal motto, “Show Up and Participate for Equality.”

TM: Absolutely. My personal motto is to show up and participate for equality, equity, and fairness for all because when we’re not willing to do that, no one else will do it for us. I understand some people want to live their lives and not march or protest and speak out to elected officials about who we are. That’s okay. I’m going to show up. No one else can speak for me and represent me better than I can. We must show up regardless of who we are, where we are in life, or economic status. If we’re not, our voices won’t be heard, especially when policies are being made that could negatively affect our lives; we will have no one else to blame if that happens. We have to demand a seat at the table whenever necessary.

PI: What is the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, Inc.?

TM: The Juxtaposed Center for Transformation was established in 2007. Before the agency was founded, I had an epiphany. I wasn’t out, and I lived as a heterosexual woman in my relationship, minding my business. I started hearing stories about our people, transgender, non-conforming, non-binary people, being denied access to shelters in their time of need. Most of them were kicked out by their families for being gay. That’s what made me want to stand up publicly and do whatever I could to raise awareness of what was going on. People not being allowed in homeless shelters? It didn’t make any sense to me. I proposed adding Juxtaposed Center for Transformation was also established to bring credibility to my service to community, in addition to educating others and illuminating our humanity. In addition to The Juxtaposed Center, there’s the Trans Housing Atlanta Program Inc., an organization we’ve established to address homelessness. Trans Housing Atlanta Program provides stipends and money grants; we help people with their daily needs, gas for their cars, paying a utility bill, and paying rent or mortgage.

Along with my co-founder, Jamie Roberts, a group of us came together to raise funds and in-kind donations to help provide for our community. Our community has been denied access to employment, quality health care, and affordable housing. We want to be of assistance in any way that we can. We’re here to uplift and empower our community.

PI: I read that you once visited the Obama White House. Tell me more about that.

TM: On March 31, 2015, when Obama was in office, I was invited to the White House to participate in the “Trans Women of Color Women history Month Briefing” on the Employment and Economic Equity and how those inequities affect Trans People of Color, particularly trans women of color. It was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will always cherish.

PI: Have you been invited back to the Biden White House?

TM: No, I’m laying low right now due to the Covid pandemic. I’m still actively working on the next project. However, I’m not doing a lot of traveling. Hopefully, Biden will get another four years. We’ll have to see what the future holds.

PI: What are you working on next?

TM: Wow, thank you so much for asking. I’m so excited about my next project. I’ve been jotting down ideas for about 10 or 11 years now to prep for it. I decided to go ahead and write it.

PI: What is this book about, and when do you hope to have it published?

This timeless love story is about an Eighth Dynasty Pharaoh, whom was unlike any other leader before him and his unordinary enchantment with his enslaved Nubian Eunuch Paramour.

PI: What else would you like to share with us?

TM: Trans rights are human rights. We deserve justice and equality just as everyone else. I hope we can get everybody involved in the political process and exercise their right to vote. Don’t let someone else steal your vote. So get involved, get active.

Meet Trans Human Rights Advocate Tracee McDaniel 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. To purchase Tracee’s book on Amazon, click here.