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Mother of Transgender Daughter Urges Opponents of Equality to Put Fear Aside and Help Children Flourish Jen Slipakoff ~ Kennesaw, Georgia
For Transgender Day of Visibility, Transgender Georgians Are Thriving, Surviving and Speaking Out Against Discrimination March 29, 2018

Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated annually on March 31, is an opportunity for transgender people around the world to share their stories and build community.

That’s exactly what two Georgians are doing this week, in the run-up to Saturday’s celebration. Both Feroza Syed and Max Nijssen decided this would be they year they’d speak out widely about what it means to be transgender, with the hope of spreading understanding to their fellow Georgians.

Max’s story was compiled in cooperation with Trans Student Educational Resources, a youth-led organization that works to improve the educational environment for transgender and gender nonconforming students.

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Max Nijssen | Morrow

Max is originally from the Netherlands, and currently works from home as a product moderator, translating information into English and Dutch. He’s also a full-time student at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, where he studies healthcare management.

When he’s not working or going to school, Max exercises, works on puzzles and other creative work, and volunteers at the Calvin Center in Hampton, which provides equestrian therapy to children and adults with physical, developmental and learning disabilities.

All of that is what Max wants his fellow Georgians to know about him, especially people who might have never met someone who is transgender. His identity as a transgender person is an important part of who he is—but it doesn’t define him. 

“This transition allows me to be me, and politicians should realize and acknowledge that we deserve to be protected by the law, as we are valuable members of society with a large variety of skills to offer.”

“I’m not just a transman; I’m a man that happens to be trans.”

And Transgender Day of Visibility gives transgender people, their families and allies the opportunity to show that to the world.

“It lets people know that, just because we are trans, we aren’t any less talented, driven, or deserving than anyone else,” he says. “We set out goals, we work hard for our goals, and being trans doesn’t stop us from reaching our goals.”

For those who would single transgender Georgians out for discrimination, Max has an additional message: Transgender people we didn’t choose to be this way, just like no one chooses the cards they are dealt in life.

“Why single us out because we stand up for ourselves and be who we were meant to be?”

He says his life would have been easier if he could just “flip a switch,” and not need to transition and live as the man he knows himself to be. But that just isn’t possible—being transgender is not a choice.  

“This transition allows me to be me, and politicians should realize and acknowledge that we deserve to be protected by the law, as we are valuable members of society with a large variety of skills to offer.”

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Feroza Syed | Atlanta

In late 2016, Feroza and her husband Stephen Croft started thinking about starting a family. They were going through the fostering process with the Division of Family and Children Services, but then DFCS lost their paperwork, meaning they’d have to start all over.

This year, they were ready to try again—but Georgia was threatening to put a new barrier in their way: SB 375, which would have allowed adoption agencies to refuse to work with Feroza because she is transgender.

“It is hateful. It makes me feel not valuable … what else do you want from us?”

Feroza seems like exactly the person you’d want to foster parent. She has years of experience caring for her six nieces and nephews, and family who would welcome the prospect of more children. And she’s more than financially stable, thanks in part to her career as a successful realtor.

“[SB 375] is hateful. It makes me feel not valuable … what else do you want from us?”

It’s this career that also leads her to worry about the economic ramifications of a License to Discriminate against LGBT Georgians. Feroza has had dozens of clients to her real estate business who are from the film industry, and she says they’re nervous.

“These RFRA bills could put an end to a $9.5 billion business in Georgia.”

And they could put an end to the dreams of Feroza and Stephen, and couples like them across the state of Georgia who want to start a family—but are held back by discrimination.  

Twitter Icon@GeorgiaUnites

#ICYMI: Congress could soon vote on an amendment that would enact a nationwide #LicenseToDiscriminate, encouraging adoption & foster care agencies to refuse to place children with #LGBT parents or lose federal funding: bit.ly/2mvxpEw #NoAdoptionDiscrimination

About 4 days ago

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