Surviving the horrors of 2020

Where do I even begin? I have been writing this for months now, never seeming to get past this point. When I began this journey as Executive Director in July 2019, I didn’t think that I would struggle to say something with all my opinions, beliefs, and experiences; yet, here I am a year and five months in and I am struggling.

I am privileged in so many ways; my job is secure, I have a roof over my head that is safe, stable, and comfortable, I don’t have to worry about when I’m going to have my next meal, my masculine presentation allows me certain degrees of safety, I have health insurance and access to healthcare (it’s not always gender-affirming, but at least I have access). I’ve also survived many things in my life, bullying, homelessness, cancer, domestic violence, and a myriad of sexual assault. But never have I experienced such blatant hatred, fear-mongering, and calls for violence towards communities of color, trans communities, and immigrants from leadership as seen from the Trump administration and his supporters over the last four years. One only has to look at the staggering reports of police and carceral brutality, the terrifying increased anti-trans violence and killings, deaths of immigrants, and the separation of immigrant families to make the connection that leadership influences our culture and our safety.

Additionally, my family, like thousands of others, have not been left unscathed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, my cousin, just three years older than me, succumbed to the coronavirus as his wife watched him draw his very last breath. Unable to travel, bury him, and give him the proper goodbye he deserved left me numb. I am still in a state of shock. Anxiety and depression hit hard, digging their claws deep into my being. And…I can only do what I’ve always done, carry on because I made it through fully comprehending that not all of us has.

So, I look to 2021 with measured hope. Trust me, I am not ignorant of the long road ahead. Ushering in a new administration is not going to save us or magically make things better. But without hope and a vision for a better world, what is there? I have to have hope and belief in a world where kindness reigns. I believe in the power of transformation, OUR powerTRANS power! It is within each and every one of us, that we have to power to change, grow, and manifest. Let’s invest in each other because WE are the ONES we’ve been waiting for! (taken from Hopi Elders’ Prophecy)

With hope for our future,

Tre’Andre Valentine (Dec. 30, 2020)