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NCLR Philanthropy Coordinator Misa Ridgway receives some gender affirmations during Pride Month!

Happy Pride Month! This month, we not only celebrate the wins of the LGBTQ community as a whole, but we also want to highlight the wins achieved by queer individuals. Our very own Philanthropy Coordinator Misa Ridgway had a win of his own earlier this month in June 2022. 

Misa joined NCLR around the same time that I did in the late fall of 2021. He was drawn to work at NCLR because he loves the intersectional way that NCLR does our work and wanted to give back to the LGBTQ community through activism. 

One morning earlier this month, I got an email from him saying that he was going to be out of the office because he was going to court to submit his name and gender marker change. Whenever transgender people take steps to affirm their identities, I am in awe. I know that being openly trans in this society takes bravery and courage, but I also know how vitally important these steps can be for someone to feel comfortable in their own body.

Here is an interview I had with Misa earlier this month about the process of getting his name and gender marker changed: 

Q: You submitted your name and gender marker change during Pride month! What was that experience like?  

A: Since I’m in the beginning stage of this process, it is a waiting game. Once I receive my court order and change everything, I think I will feel more at peace. Taking this step during Pride reminds me that getting a name change shouldn’t have to be this hard or this long of a process; it’s essentially a form of oppression against trans people. Even though it is a privilege to have it easier in California, I know we still have a long way to go to make this process more accessible for folks. 

Q: To me, there’s a link between knowing yourself and feeling affirmed in your identity and the happiness that you feel in life. Do you feel this is true, especially in relation to this step you took?  

A: Showing identification has become a source of dysphoria in recent years – which I never anticipated because many conversations surrounding dysphoria in the trans-masc community often revolve around other issues. Issues such as physical dysphoria when first connecting the dots that you are trans, believing that you actually are trans, and then accepting that fact.  Having this privilege of being able to change my gender marker and name allows me to be seen. 

Q: What is the significance of the name and gender maker change to you personally? Why do you think it’s important for everyone to have this opportunity? 

A: There have been multiple instances where I’ve shown a  form of identification, and the person checking says “are you sure this is you?” Whenever this happens, I have to come out. I didn’t realize that this was part of the trans experience – but it is. It’s another layer of gender dysphoria that I wasn’t expecting. It’s also a safety issue, as the fear of interacting with someone who might have ill intentions towards trans people when I show my old forms of identification is always present.  

It’s important for people to have this opportunity because a name (whether chosen or given) is associated with your personhood. Having ways to see yourself for who you are is one of the greatest feelings in the world, especially if you were lost before. 

Q: Finally, what does Pride mean to you and why do you celebrate it?
A: Pride, first and foremost, is a protest against people who try to bar us from living our true authentic selves. Pride for me is about remembering the actions, hurt, and victories that LGBTQ people in the past experienced for me to live openly. Pride is working hard to dismantle systems of oppression against transgender people. I hope that the work I get to do at NCLR will create positive change within the LGBTQ movement as a whole.

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