Domestic Violence Awareness Month happens in October, but every day of the year several thousands of people are experiencing harm in their relationships. Normally when people hear of domestic violence stories they think of a woman, scarred and bruised from being battered by a man. The image of a woman’s swollen face with a black eye and bloody lip is probably the first visual that forms in most minds when they imagine someone who has experienced domestic violence.
I’ve always known that I was different. Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, as an immigrant African woman, I have struggled with major depression all of my life. It’s a topic in my community, as in other communities of color, which is often swept under the rug. My depression was caused by numerous issues. After struggling with this issue since my early years, I decided that sharing my experience with depression is a way of empowering other women and girls to do the same, while removing the stigma surrounding depression and other mental health disorders in diverse racial and ethnic communities.
Being born male or female comes with specific gender roles and perceived responsibilities with those roles in both a family and in society. In the eyes of my family and society, I was not the typical male that that everyone expected me to be. Growing up as a transgender woman was very difficult. I was not accepted and was subjected to physical, emotional, and social abuse.