Renae Green loves to do her nails. She has eight pairs of heels-she admits they’re not the most comfortable things to wear, but they add a little pizzazz to her outfits. She also hopes to one day move to Japan and get married.
But if you knew Renae when she was younger then these decisions might surprise you.
Green is a transwoman and has identified as such for six years now. She told BUZZ that she always knew she was different.
“I’ve never been interested in anything that was masculine or related to men. I knew something was different, but I just assumed I was gay or queer, not really understanding what that meant,” she said.
When she was 21-years-old, she finally figured out that she was a trans woman. And thankfully, she had a very supportive mother who helped her to navigate her feelings, and accept who she was.
“My mother was the best mother in the world. I came out on national television. My entire family saw it. And I thought that would have been the end of it, but it was the opposite. She wanted to learn, she wasn’t willing to give me up. She was like,`If this is who you are, I want to get it right,'”
“We exist and we are part of the framework and we want to be able to exist and to live, survive and support our families,”— Green
But Green is aware that this is not usually the case for other members of her community who are often shunned because of their identities. And that’s why her work as Associate Director of Policy & Advocacy at Tranwave Ja is so important.
“Advocacy is slow, and it takes a long time. But if we’re talking about gender equality it also includes trans women. Because we exist and we are part of the framework and we want to be able to exist and to live, survive and support our families,” she said.
But she admits that this is hard, especially because of the many misconceptions surrounding transwomen.
“Women are so unique and so wonderful that I don’t think we can put all women in one box,”— Green
“We are still trying to figure out our space in society, where we fit in, and also where we don’t fit in. They feel that we should try to fit what society considers the ideal woman. But there are so many things that don’t fit this one idea of what women should be,” she said.
“For me, being a woman is just being who I am, just existing. Women are so unique and so wonderful that I don’t think we can put all women in one box,” she added.
Green believes trans women would gain a greater level of acceptance if they were given a seat at the table.
“I get it, cis women have been oppressed since birth; for transwomen, it’s normally at the point where they start identifying as cis women. But we all suffer from patriarchy and we all need to band together to support each other, and fight for equal opportunities and progress for everybody,” she said.
Her organization serves approximately 2000 trans people in Jamaica and is looking to widen its impact.
“We have a strong reach in Kingston, and in Montego Bay and working on doing more in rural Jamaica. While things are changing they’re still not where they’re supposed to be,” she said.
She hopes to see a day when legislation is amended to recognize the rights of trans people; currently, they are only able to change their names.
In the meantime, Green is changing what she can.
“I’m on hormones now, my body is changing, my facial features are changing. I am developing breasts. And eventually, I’ll have to make a decision if I want to go further in the process and do surgeries to affirm my gender,” she said.