#SummerofTrans in Georgia: From ‘Jell-O Chicken’ to Creating the Trans Flag

This summer, the National Center for Transgender Equality is partnering with Transilient, a traveling photo, video, and interview-based project. The team is currently on a road trip to document the daily lives of transgender people all over the nation, with a particular focus on states where lawmakers are trying to push anti-LGBTQ legislation. Welcome to the #SummerofTrans.

After profiling Cameron, Leland, Tyler, Drew and others in Florida, the Transilient team continued their road trip into Georgia. The transgender people they met in Marietta and Atlanta shared their views on — among other things — the peace found in bird-watching and cooking.


Marietta: Monica and Darlene

Monica and Darlene live in Marietta, which — with 60,000 residents — is one of the largest cities in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Monica is perhaps best known as the creator of the transgender pride flag, which entered the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2014.

The newlyweds cited the outcome of the 2016 presidential election as a catalyst for their wedding. Darlene had reservations about getting married, but concerns about the fate of marriage equality eventually outweighed her worries about being “tied down.”

Monica expressed contentment with the state of their relationship, saying:

We pretty much have the same sense of humor, the same likes and dislikes when it comes to media and film and such. We are very compatible in a lot of ways.

Atlanta: Zahara and Erin

Zahara and Erin are the founders of TRANScending Barriers, a nonprofit organization that provides support to and builds the capacity of transgender people in the Atlanta metro area.

The discussion they had on their couch, however, had little to do with the logistics of running a nonprofit — instead, Zahara and Erin talked about Game of Thrones and poked fun at each others’ cooking practices:

Erin: She has this thing called Jell-O Chicken.
Zahara: It’s chicken wings in a pot. I boil it with seasoned salt and some other spices, too. I boil it until the water completely drains out. It’s really good!
Erin: And it’s one gelatinous form… Oh, God!
Zahara: She said she didn’t like it and thought it was weird. I think she likes it now, but I haven’t made it in a long time.
Erin: Okay, what’s really hilarious is what she thought was weird about me. Her mom even thought it was weird. Tell them, Zahara.
Zahara (laughing): We could not believe that she doesn’t rinse off her meat before cooking it!
Erin: If you rinse off your meat in Texas, you’ll get in trouble!

Atlanta: James

James describes himself as task-oriented and someone who likes to work — a trait he has had since he was young, when his mother would complain about him “acting like he was 40.”

Despite his love of being helpful and useful, James still finds time for leisure activities:

I love bird watching. I love that kind of quiet, of just being in the woods. Even if you don’t know anything about birds and you don’t know what you’re looking at, when you’re trying to actively find birds, you notice all this stuff you’ve never seen before. Bird watching makes you be really intentional about your surroundings and everything that is happening around you.

Atlanta: Rashad and Nick

Rashad is a barber and part-time truck driver, and Nick works in a government office handling health care.

The pair also described what they do in their spare time, which is perhaps the exact opposite of James’s preference for solitude:

Transilient: When you guys aren’t bickering, what do you all do for fun?
Rashad: We’re always bickering. That’s our fun.
Nick: Always.
Transilient: I love that.
Rashad: Everybody else does too. Everyone always says, “We love how you and your brother interact.”
Nick (laughing): It’s because he’s just so big, muscular, and so strong. I’m so short and fat and he is always beating me up.

Watch this space for updates from the #SummerofTrans here on our Medium page, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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