Atlanta, GA

“There were two fights that my mother and I had constantly. One was about gender expression, and the second was her constantly yelling at me and telling me ‘You’re not 40 years old, stop acting like you’re 40 years old!’ You know most parents are yelling at their kids ‘stop acting like you’re 18, you’re not 18!’ because they were sneaking out of the house type of stuff. And me, like I remember at like 14 having a very serious conversation with my mother about that fact that I thought her supervisor was really taking advantage of her. And wasn't - was not, like, fully appreciating her work. And that she worked too hard for her supervisor who, I felt, did nothing. I was right. And she would get exasperated with me. Like, “Stop having these kinds of conversations with me, you are not 40!!”. It was just a constant dynamic. I think it relates to my work ethic now. I have always been very task-oriented, and I think that is my survival skill, so to speak. I was a very stubborn kid. Me wearing a dress was the other fight. It wasn’t gonna happen. I mean, from the time I was three and four years old, it was the first fights that my parents and I would have, and I was just so stubborn. And what I found would happen was that because there would always be some level of compromise that allowed me to look at least somewhat boyish in public. And I would hear like this constant apology, right, that would happen from my parents to other parents or whatever - you know they didn’t know any better. But this constant kind of apology for me even being present. So, what I think I learned pretty quickly was, ‘make yourself useful’. So, if I go into a space and can identify something - ‘this person over here needs help with something’ or ‘that thing over there is broken and someone should probably fix it’, or whatever the case may be, even you know, just the smallest of things, A, it helps and has always helped eliminate my anxiety of, just the social anxiety of being around people and being different. But then also it kind of, well, it made me feel like no one needed to apologize for me. Cause I'm there, I'm helping you, right? That’s what the fights all came out of, it came out of wanting to be able to occupy space without feeling like people needed to apologize for me. And to also kind of mitigate whatever my own social anxiety was over how I might be treated. So, it’s just always just been a thing. I like to work.”

Basil Soper