Stories of Transitioning Journeys

he Butterfly Project is a dedicated workforce development project at the Fairmount Heights Branch Library specifically for young Black and brown trans women, who are among the most at-risk people in our community. Inspired by the life and work of Karen Holmes, head of the Prince George’s Trans Coalition, the program seeks to ready young women for the job market and connect them with vital, affirming services. No matter your living, earning, or job skills situation, The Butterfly Project fosters a respectful, non-judgmental space to help young women blossom at their own pace in a safe environment. To attend a free networking luncheon or more information on The Butterfly Project please contact us by email at or call (301) 538-5328.
What is The Flame Award? To recognize valued advocates with a fire within and ignites the fire within others in support of the Transgender Community and Organizations, Karen Kendra Holmes introduces “The Flame Award”. The flame represents the fire within someone. Each year at the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event, this award will be presented to an Individual or Organization with the most nominations from their friends, family, and peers for their service. Organizations with workplace programs aimed at supporting transgender employees and concerns, and an advocate responsible for the largest donations from organizations in support of the transgender community. Make sure your friends, family and peers know of your efforts in support of the transgender community. Then ask them to an email to: to vote for you. On the subject line write: “The Flame Award Nomination”. In the email they should tell us why they nominated you or your organization. We will accept one vote per email address.
The day I transition I finally became Free to live my life as Karen. When I was Tony, I was happy, but never the way I am now. In this article I will be speaking about myself in the third person about Tony. I am doing so because I am no longer him and he is so different than I am today. He was highly active with friends, women, volunteering and going out and just enjoying what he thought was being happy. The problem, Tony was not truly happy due to a big secret and double life he was living. Tony, I felt was a wonderful man, but living a lie to who he really was inside, and it was tearing him up. June 2010 he was invited to attend the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference. After years of praying to God to show him why he was dressing like a woman, at the conference Tony found out the answer. To hear other Transgender people's story, he understood who he was deep inside. For three months Tony and his job worked on him coming out to his family, friends, and co-workers on October 1, 2010. Understanding back in June of 2010, I realize my truth and knew I wanted to be free. So, on October 1, 2010, the chains feel off and what I will say in the jail doors were now open wide for me. Once I walked out that door that kept me captive for 40 years, I became 150% happier. No more hiding who I was and living the dream of what I had been thinking about for years. I was free to be open with my family, friends, co-workers, and most of all with all of my volunteer groups as myself. Later I was asked to join the Maryland Defense Force, which I was happy to join. One year later I started speaking at small events about my transition and how good things were happening to me ever since I became Karen. Ever since I have been making a lot of appearances with the police and fire departments, county and federal governments, military, schools, colleges, universities, religious organizations, and community organizations, etc. In my speaking engagements, it is not changing people's beliefs, it is about gaining respect and getting people to understand who I am, who my community is. At a lot of my speaking, I have changed minds on how people view the Transgender Community. Soon when the Federal Government lifts travel for the program and agency I am volunteering with the Department of Justice / Community Relation Service, I will be speaking around the country to bridging the gap between Law Enforcement and the Transgender Community. I hope by me speaking out about my life and the transgender community, law enforcement officers will have a better understanding and respect towards us when they stop or detain the Transgender Community. How to treat our community when our identification and how we present ourselves does not match. How to act when making an arrest as well as doing a frisk. Understanding how an officer approaches a Transgender person, will make a big difference in a health response from us. In our minds we have no idea what the officer is thinking about during a traffic stop. I remember one night when I was stopped by DC Police 10 years ago before my transition. The officer after looking at me dressed and my driver's license did not match, asked me how I would like to be addressed. In my head I am thinking, "I don't care, I just don't want to be arrested". He explained why he stopped me and let me go with a verbal warning. As I drove off, I felt so good inside of how that officer handled the traffic stop. You can find my TEDx Talk when you Google my name. If you need to talk you can email me at or visit my personal website at In my next article I'll talk about "My Family and Friends Transition Too". What I want to leave with you all is to get out and Vote come November 2020. Do Early voting and if you go to the polling center, wear your mask and Be Safe. Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
I met a girl I thought I knew before She was standing, waiting at my door I heard her breathe I heard her knock but only once I ignored her, hoping she would go away She wasn't what I wanted Or what I needed No not nearly enough to satisfy I met a girl I thought I knew before She was standing, waiting at my door I heard her breathe I heard her knock but only once I went about my business as if she didn't exist Another day in life surrounded by mist After years of searching wishing and hoping Imagining myself in the body of another I discovered the girl still waiting but older The person I always was and always will be Longing and yearning, pining and sobbing I opened the door and walked into my life I embraced myself and the healing began It finally came, it was there all the time My life finally makes sense Let living commence If only I knew, if only I knew I would not have wasted all that time.
A lifetime gone right......In 1966 I was eight years old. I had no idea that what I was feeling would take me where I am today. Like most, it was confusing and left me feeling lost. A lot has changed since 1966 and not just for me. I've changed everything around me and those who thought they knew me. Lost a friend or two but that's okay. I'm sure I'll get by.
  • Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA)