Shawn Aaron – 2nd Yr. Anniversary Legacy

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone
through to achieve that beauty.” (Maya Angelou)

My name is Shawn Aaron. I identify as trans-masculine and was born in Oakland,
California but was raised in Richmond, California. I was raised by a single mother and
the eldest of three children. My first encounter with my identity happened when I was in
the second grade. From my ‘religious’ upbringing I was taught that there was only two
sides to a coin and my coin flipped on the side that said I was a ‘girl’. My mom was
always correcting my behavior in order for me to conform to the idea of how she
thought her ‘daughter’ should behave. Even as child, in my mind I wanted no part of
her one sided ideologies. I continued to walk the way I wanted, slouching in the pew in
church with my legs wide open. My mother was desperate to curve my unwanted
behavior. She decided that the elder women of the church would teach me feminine
etiquette. She enrolled me in an etiquette class at church that was designed to teach
the young girls of the church to become young women. We learned how to fold
clothes, how to cook certain foods, and was taught to be subservient to our husbands’
when they arrived home from work. I believe my mother had a inclination of my identity.
She just did not know how to love and embrace her child in an open and loving way.
From that point in my life I remember it being the pivotal moment that beget the
emotional and psychological damage I received from my mother.
I opened up to my mother when I was 17 that I was a lesbian. At least a lesbian is what
I thought I was at the time. My mom could not cope with the idea that her child was
going to live openly in that way. For weeks I would receive long letters from my mother
filled with quoted bible scriptures that insinuated that my behavior had granted me a
first class ticket to hell. She tried to convince me that my sexual behavior would grant
me a life time of misfortune. She would force me to stand at the alter on Sundays for
prayer that would somehow redeem me. A few weeks before my 18th birthday my
mother taped the final letter onto my bedroom door that was titled “Final Notice”. My
mother evicted me from her home. I had until the first of the next month to pack my
things and to leave her house. I was petrified. I was a child. How would I survive?
Where would I go? I had no idea of how to be an adult. I did not want to stay in her
house another minute. Staying would not have allowed me to be who I knew I wanted
to be. I left her house. I was homeless, sleeping and living out of my car for 2.5 years.
That was one of the hardest moments in my life. But looking back at it now I realize
that I was able to do a lot of growing in those moments alone in that car…
During the time I was homeless I dropped out of college and went on hiatus from
higher education until 2007. In May of 2013 I graduated with honors from Contra Costa
College located in San Pablo, California earning an Associate of Arts Degree in English,
an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts: Social and Behavioral Sciences, an
Associates Degree in Liberal Arts: Arts and Humanities, an Associate of Science
Degree in Administration of Justice, an Associate of Science Degree in Law
Enforcement, a Certificate of Achievement in Law Enforcement, a Certificate of
Achievement as an Investigative Specialist, and a Certificate of Achievement as a
Patrol Specialist.
I began to medically transition in 2013. I got to a point in my life that identifying as a
masculine woman was not something that I identified with anymore. Every transition
journey is different. I did not identify as trans until I was in my 30’s. In the same year I
started testosterone, I had top surgery, and I legally changed my name. Top surgery
was the best thing I have ever done. Ever since I started to grow breast, having them
on my body was a nightmare. I hated what I saw looking at myself in the mirror, so I
avoided mirrors. But now I walk around with confidence not only from what I see on the
outside but I have confidence from the inside out.
In 2016 I founded Dem Bois Inc. When I began my medical transition in February of
2013, I was fortunate to be employed full-time with good healthcare benefits that
covered transitional procedures such as hormone therapy and gender affirming
surgery. I was granted access to affordable and quality transitional surgeries at low
cost. One day when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed I came across a post
from an individual who identified himself as trans. This individual had posted a photo of
himself along with his bare chest. Under the photo he wrote, ‘he was posting a photo
of himself ‘pre-op’ and how he might as well get use to his ‘breast’ because he would
never be able to afford any surgery.’ I was extremely saddened by this predisposition of
accepting that he would never be able to afford surgery. At that moment I recognized
my ‘transitional privilege’ and vowed to find a way to give other transmen the same
opportunity I had. By creating an organization that would provide economical aid to
transmale identified people of color who do not have the financial resources to receive
the transitional care that they need. I recognized that having access to certain health
care is key to living a healthier life.

Dem Bois Inc. is a national non-profit organization with the mission to provide
charitable economical aid for female to male, FTM, trans-masculine identified person(s)
of color ages twenty-one years old and older for them to obtain chest reconstruction
surgery, and or genital reassignment surgery in order to help them on their journey to
live a more fulfilled physical, mental, and self-authentic life. Dem Bois Inc. exist in order
to prevent the overwhelming feelings of dysphoria among transmen of color who have
disproportionate access to quality healthcare and or the financial means to obtain
gender-affirming surgeries. Dem Bois Inc. is ran by trans identified folks and allies who
understand the importance of accessing medical transition related care.

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