Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trans* Faces #3: Veri Unique; she came..she conquered...in her own unique way.

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

One of the new faces of the Transgender Advocacy scene in the Carolina's is Veri Unique. An accomplished woman to say the least, who is spearheading The Veri Unique Foundation; the Carolina's newest Trans Advocacy group that is designed to bring awareness to individuals of the Transgender Community and particularly the often neglected, Transgender minorities. One of the foundation's first main focuses is towards Transgender Youth of the Carolina's and is currently seeking input and assistance from the community. Along with guiding the often confused Trans-youth of small towns throughout the Carolina's, the foundation aims to be an asset to many Transgender people redefining themselves through education and job placement.

Veri Unigue is a Military hero, serving her country proudly before transitioning, an advocate for education, a Finance broker, small business owner and currently pursuing her Masters Degree. One of many, of her goals, is to bridge the gap between Transgender people of color and the greater LGBT community and to help minority LGBT persons to debunk long standing southern stereotypes. She is also much more; a bridge from the days when many TBGL people felt left out of Christianity to be a role model to those with in the community who continue to hold on to their faith and moral beliefs and a role model to minority Trans-youth.

I first met Veri Unique online. She is also a member of the TMP family as administrator of the Facebook community page . I wanted to have a moment to get to know her better and to introduce her to the Transmuseplanet blog readers, the community and to share her much needed message of unity and support for minority Trans-youth. What I found was an intelligent sister who is not only articulate and educated but who has a strong belief in helping her community and passing it forward to the youth of the future.

TMP: You’re a fellow South Carolinian sisters, but in different areas, one that is not always viewed as the most accepting in South Carolina. What is your opinion on the level of recognition in the state capital area concerning trans-women of color and the level of support from fellow LGB people?

Veri: Honestly, I feel the level of recognition of minority trans-women in the state capital area is extremely low and represented in a darker light than non-minorities. That is to no fault of the area, but more so to the high percentage of minority trans-women who fluctuate to the entertainment and prostitution lifestyles rather than self, entry-level, and higher education. There is no way around it, education, trades/skills, and normal lifestyles all tend to give the general public a better view of trans-women (especially minorities). I just see more Craigslist ads for minority trans-women than I do working regular jobs, in the library, grocery store, etc. Now I’m aware not every has a great support system in life or was nurtured around education, hard work, and professionalism. But we live in a country that education isn’t denied to anyone. Loans for college don’t deny because you’re transgender, or not every single employer in the world will shut its doors. If we live in a country where slaves and their descendants can arise, establish HBCUs, function in politics, and risk being killed for reading a book, then I won’t buy any long term excuses for anyone not taking advantage of all that’s out there.

TMP: You created The Veri Unique Foundation this year. What are the reasons you wanted to start this organization and some of the goals you hope to achieve through it?

Veri: a) The main reason was for the epidemic I mentioned before. I want to use my networking ability to create Awareness & Advocacy. Awareness that there are minority trans-women who are successful, professional, educated, and spiritual. This first angle will debunk many of the stereotypes the public has of minority trans-women.
  b)The second is Advocacy. The advocacy portion will include creating a network of trans-friendly employers and education institutions. It is my belief that through these two strong avenues. (Education and Employment), we can see a gradual decrease in the sex ads, pornography careers, etc. For instance, if a trans-women approaches me and has a desire to get a G.E.D., go to Cosmo school, or earn a bachelor’s, I want to have a binder full of numbers (lol Romney) to make a phone call and send that person to a contact who will assist them without any hassle.
  c) Lastly, I just want to build a network of young minority trans-women locally and eventually nationally. I just notice that most (not all) trans-women I’ve encountered are middle-aged and not a minority. They have lived as their birth gender for 35+ years at beginning their transition. Let’s take a few moments to do some math: Let’s say the average annual income of a non-minority male is only $20,000 per year. They started working somewhere between age 18-22. Now at the ripe age of 40 they decided, oh I’ve really been a girl my entire life. That male now transwoman has had the opportunity to enjoy non-minority male privileges in society (which comes with inalienable perks that a minority male may have to work 3 times as hard to even come close to) not to mentioned having possibly earned anywhere from $360,000 - $440,000 gross income, built a 401k, Health Savings Account, etc. VS. a 18 y/o minority trans-girl with no family support, kicked out, and haven’t had the mentality to pursue an education. Now I’m not saying all scenarios are like this but I’m willing to bet 80-90% are.

TMP: What message would you give other Trans-people of color about getting involved more with organizing and raising awareness of the violence that has plague so many Trans-women of color?

Veri: That message would be simple. Understand the avenues that facilitate violence and move in an opposite direction. 9 out of 10 of the violent crimes we see committed deal with intimate encounters where the person was not upfront about their biological situation. We don’t owe an upfront explanation to the world, but we do to anyone we are considering being intimate with. Now there are scenarios like the recent one in N.Y. with Islan, but that was more of an isolated even. I focus more on the major issues to solve. May she rest in peace too.

TMP: How has transition been accepted within your immediate African-American community?

Veri: 5% supportive/understanding. 95% unsupported/not understanding. And I’m ok with those numbers. I don’t have time to spend with 95% of people who never really knew me to begin with. 99.9% percent of them all don’t pay my bills anyway.

TMP: What are ways you think we can, as Trans-women of color, raise the bar for our younger sisters and brothers in the state of South Carolina?

Veri: A great idea would be to start a focus of Minority Trans-Youth here in SC. They will need role models just like everyone else. All they would need is to just see someone like them and realize who they are. Most of them feel some kind of way but just don’t have a name for it. I spoke with one of my close sisters yesterday. She indicated she felt this way since childhood, but didn’t discover a name for it until almost 18. Imagine the mental anguish. Let’s you and I put a ball in motion.

TMP: Recent events in the media have focused attention to Transgender Military personnel. As a military veteran, what are your views as to why this ban should be lifted?

Veri: That a simple answer. If the job can get done, who should care who does it?

TMP: Many within the Trans community are divided between accepting Chelsea Manning as a legitimate transgender person and divided over whether or not she is a traitor or a hero. As an actual military hero what are your views on the Chelsea Manning media blitz?

Veri: I haven’t really followed the case much, I’ve read a few articles weeks ago. I can speak from personal and very recent experience, that sometime we can experience things that make us go forth with who were really are. Almost kinda like “I don’t give a darn” about hiding and people’s perception. That’s what led me to live full time after only being on HRT for 6 months. Now in her case, I don’t really know. I take 6 months to mind my own business and 6 months to stay out of everyone else’s. It keeps me pretty busy year-round.

TMP: You are currently pursuing your Masters Degree. You will be attending as your authentic self; how rewarding is that for you and how as a community can we encourage younger trans-people to stick it out and continue their education?

Veri: It is rewarding for me. First because I’m pursuing an expertise in a field that matches my personality, second because I’m quite quite sure I’m the first Minority Transwoman they have encountered. I consider it an honor to show society a young black woman who is pursuing what they are, talented, articulate, and beautiful inside and out. And hopefully when I’ve walked across that stage and handed my second degree, they will smile, nod, and acknowledge that this day a transwoman of color has seen, came, and conquered.

TMP: What words of advice would you give to young trans-women of color about achieving their goals and not seeing themselves as limited by their gender dysphoria?

Veri: Put your assurance in your personality, character, spirituality if you choose, and your education. Because once you are rooted in yourself, you are better equipped to handle the stares, remarks, and discrimination. That’s the main reason I decided to live now instead of later. I told myself, if I can live full time now without all the physical changes yet taken place and get comfy with who I am, then I can comfy once I’m stacked with hips, lips, and fingertips.
TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world and knew everyone would hear you at once, what would you like them to know about Veri Veri Unique?

Veri: I’ll be honest, I’ve always told God if He ever allowed me a public stage I could only give Him the glory. You may not like church but cha gotta love Jesus. There are many names for God, but Jesus Christ has proven Himself to me beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know for certain I would not be here without me loving me and Him loving me. You may be Atheist, and by all means you reserve that right. I respect you and your views, but as my favorite book says in Joshua 24:15. “As for me and my house…” you know the rest. Toodles.

I met and found a  sister who is both outspoken and a true born leader. I'd urge the community to stand behind her and with her to make the goal of helping our youth possible in the Carolinas.

To lend your support and be apart of the Veri Unique Foundation or to learn more about their mission, follow links below:

The Veri Unique Foundation Group

The LBA Group LLC ; Business by Veri Unique


                                       RELATED TOPICS ON TRANSMUSEPLANET

Trans* Faces #2: Ryan Cassata: One World...One Love...One Community 

 Trans* Faces #1: A chat with Lyle G. of Munich Germany

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