When I transition 10 years ago, I knew I might lose a couple of friends, but never the ones that were so close and family members to me in my life. This article will be among the ones that will be the hardest ones to write about, because I have lost a couple of wonderful family members and friends. The hardest thing is to have friendship that went to family, but then later lose them in your life. To them and I somewhat understand they have told me it was like I had died, and they lost a good friend. The one thing I tell them all you did not lose me who died, you still have me, just the better part of me who wanted to live.
The hardest thing for me and other Transgender people is to be ourselves and to live the life we were meant to be and to be happy. But because the way society treats us, we lose our spouse or partner, family, home, friends, and job and commit suicide.
To start things off after my mom told my family, all my aunts were ok with my transition, but a couple of uncles on my mom side of the family did not go so well. Now one out of the three is ok with me and another still has not and does not even look at me as part of the family. I was having a hard time with it when we were close before, but now I do not care anymore. The hardest issue I have with a family member treating me this way is that I have not brought any shame to the family in anyway.
Then there are my friends whom I worked with, played softball with, and volunteered with. One of my friends who was like a brother to me whom I worked with and being around his family for years are not that close now. When I told him over the phone, I was Transgender and I was going to transition he said, “I’ll be right over”, and hung up. When he got there and I open the door the first thing out of his mouth was, “Are You “F”ing Crazy”. I will never forget those words from him. I tried to explain how and why I was going to transition. He was honest with me that he did not think things would be same between us anymore. It did change right away, and it hurt. Then there was another friend whom I played softball with from church. I played Short Stop and he was my 2nd Baseman, and we were awesome together up the middle. Not much got passed us and turning double plays were out of site. We were two peas in a pot sticking together on the field and in church. He has not returned my phone call yet in the 10 years after my transition. Finally, was a dear friend who I volunteered with the Park Police Volunteer Association (PPVA). Every two weeks on my Friday off we would meet up for lunch and just go over ideas for PPVA and where we wanted it to go. He would email me after my transition every so often to see how I was doing and the struggles he was going through losing a good friend in Tony and getting use to my transition. In his emails he would apologize that he felt he was not much of a supportive friend, but I told him that keeping in touch, and I understood. Finally, 4 ½ years later I was going to Dallas, TX to speak and I was looking for donations to go. We finally met up for lunch and it was great and later he told me how easy I made him feel meeting for the first time since my transition. I did not ask him, but he wanted to donate money for my trip. Things got so much better between us that he was even willing to take me for my Surgical Reconstruction Surgery (SRS) back on April 8, 2016, and yes, my five-year anniversary is coming up. Now every so often get together for Chinese food and watch a movie.
Earlier I said since my transition, has never brought shame to my family and friends. I have done a TEDx Talk which is now on the main TED website. I speak around the country as a leader and advocate for the Transgender community. Provide Transgender training to the police and fire departments and the military. Meeting with politicians and speak with them on Transgender issues. Most of all doing TV, radio, podcast interviews and most of hosting a radio show and writing these articles.
Keep one thing in mind as I close is when we transition our family and friends transition too. They have this sense of lost in their lives. But for you, understand this and that when we transition, we are doing it so we can live.
You can find my TEDx or TED Talk “40 Years and Wandering No More”, when you Google my name. If you need to talk about anything, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my personal website at https://www.KKHolmes.com Until next time Shoot for the Moon and Even if You Miss, You’ll Be Among the STARS!
Karen Kendra Holmes works for the Federal Government as a Safety Officer. Besides her full- time job with the Federal Government she is a part-time radio host on WPFW 89.3 FM on the “Inside Out LGBTQ Show” on WPFW 89.3 FM. She also writes a column for Baltimore OUTloud under the column called “Trans Lives”. Karen received the Engendered Spirit Award from Capital Pride on June 7, 2018. She also was a TEDx Speaker with TEDx Asbury Park, NJ on May 19, 2018. In April 2017 she received the “2017 Monica Roberts Advocacy Award”. She was selected in January 2017 by LGBTQ Nation as one of the “Top 50 Successful Transgender Americans You Need to Know”. In May of 2015, she was honored in a special edition among 41 other women from around the world in The Platform Magazine, for up and inspiring females who have made a difference with their platform and inspired others with their positive values towards others. In April 2014 she received the “Willis Greene Community Service Award” and the “Unsung Hero Award-Team” by the Corporation for National & Community Service. In October 2013 she received “Soldier of the Year”, out of the country, by the State Guard Association of the United States out of 24 states and 23 thousand soldiers. In December 2012 she received “NCO Soldier of the Year” by the Maryland State Guard Association and The Maryland Defense Force. She was selected in August 2012 by The International Women’s Leadership Association, "A Woman of Outstanding Leadership in the Business Owner Division".
With the Maryland Defense Force under the Maryland National Guards she was a Staff Sergeant with Force Protection, the Chaplain’s Unit as a Chaplain’s Assistance, Honor Guard, and MWR. She has been doing volunteer work with the American Red Cross for the National Capital Region since 2009 on the Disaster Action Team. For several years, she has been volunteering with Community Emergency Response Team (CERTs) in Prince George's County, MD, and also with the Medical Reserve Corps. She sits on the board for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in Prince George's County, MD. Karen also use to sit on the board for DC Metro PFLAG working with the Transgender Community. She is now the chapter president of the Transgender Veterans Support Group (TVSG) for Maryland. Before Karen’s transitioned, she previously volunteered with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission Park Police Prince George's County Division for 7 years, 5 of them as their President, and received several awards for her service, such as two Commander’s Awards and two Volunteer of the Year Awards. In December 2005 she received the Governor’s Crime Prevention Award for her outstanding work and leadership with Park Police Volunteer Association. She has her own side business called SafetyFirst DMV and is certified as an instructor through the National Safety Council (NSC). Karen believes whole heartedly in the importance of and Giving Back to her Community.