Stories of Transitioning Journeys

In 2021 I partnered up with the Community Relationship Service department under the DOJ as a Subject Matter Expert, speaking to law enforcement officers all over the country. The program is to “Build A Bridge Between Law Enforcement and The Transgender Community”. I have been speaking to Law Enforcement Agencies around the country and helped create videos that law enforcement can use for training. The appearances I have attended with them, having them learn to use proper pronouns when they make a traffic stops or an arrest. How to start filling out reports and capture data that is important on the Transgender and Non-binary community. The officers now have a different view towards the Transgender Community, when they are giving me hugs for what they have learned and knowing me. After two Transgender women were murdered in Maryland, I was asked if I wanted to help by the Prince George’s County Police Department doing ride-a-longs to stop and talk with the Trans Sex-Workers, to see what it will take to get them off the streets and help them get jobs. Based on what I wanted to do the Butterfly Project has been formed to help them do resume building, role play job interview, dress for success, GED, operate a computer and much more.
Welcome back to Trans Lives. It’s been a while since I have written to you all and I miss you. COVID really put a damper on life for us all. In December 2021, after having all my shots including my booster, I still tested positive with COVID. My time with COVID was very mild and I tested negative after a week. The question I ask myself lately is whose path will I follow, mine or God’s? Well, that question has been answered, and I know whose path I will follow. I feel life’s journey and sometimes is never the way you plan. That was the case for me and I am glad I listen and followed God’s plan. I just wanted to live a normal life being happy for who I am. As Tony, I did a lot of volunteer work with the Red Cross, particularly their community emergency response team, and retired senior volunteer program. After going from Tony to Karen I never thought about doing any kind of volunteer work with the transgender community. Well, that is when God spoke to my heart and said to me, “It is not about you anymore.” I needed to help and serve my own people. Since my transition in 2012 I started speaking to other trans folks, non-binary, and non-trans people, and helping trans people to understand what life could be when and if they transition. With non-transgender people I want to educate them on who transgender people are and that we are not what you see on the Jerry Springer show. In 2021 I partnered up with the community relationship service department under the Department of Justice as a subject-matter expert, speaking to law enforcement officers all over the country. The program aims to “Build a bridge between law enforcement and the transgender community.” I have done podcasts, cable TV shows, and spoken at conferences, training events, and for videos that law enforcement can use for training. I’ve seen first-hand how these efforts change minds. After two trans women were murdered in Maryland, the Prince George’s county police sought me out for help. Working with the Greenbelt public library, we came up with the Butterfly Project, aiming to help transgender sex workers and other trans people with resume building, roll-playing for a job interview, operating a computer, GED, dress for success, and more. People from all walks of life are now helping out. I now host my own TV show called “The Karen Kendra Holmes Show.” On the show I will be talking about trans issues, politics, fashion, hair, etc., and will welcome guests. The show is now airing in Richmond, Virginia, on Verizon and Comcast. It will be airing on local TV stations in the future in New York, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. For now see some of the shows on my Facebook Live feed every Friday between 2 and 2:30 pm. Some of my trans friends have asked me why I keep doing what I do for the trans community when I am now a full woman. I tell them, my saying and always has been, “Never forget where you come from,” and do it because it is in your heart, not because you want something in return. Most of all, my life inspiration is not to have more, but to be more. t You can find my TED talk when you Google my name. You can email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at KKHolmes.com In my next article I’ll talk about training law enforcement. Until then, “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars!”
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 butterflyproject@pgcmls.info 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: kkholmes@kkholmes.com 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.
Respecting Each Other Treat Others As You Wish to Be Treated is Not Just “Cliché” it is “The Golden Rule” In Life! I Have Feelings, A Mind and A Heart Who Serves and Cares For Others. I Am A Human Being and Wish To Be Treated as One, Like You Would Treat Your Mother, Father, Children, Siblings, and Friends. Just Like You Treat Them With Respect, I Too Want To Be Treated With Respect. The Only Difference Between Them and Me, I Am A Transgender Woman, One Who Works For The Federal Government Now For 20 Years. A Military Veteran Who Was Given The Honor As Soldier Of The Year by The State Guard Association Of The United States in 2013. So Please Treat Me As You Would Like To Be Treated, “It’s The Golden Rule” And The Right Thing To Do!
This is a letter that my mother wrote to her best friend’s husband about their friendship over my transition back in 2010. Later their friendship was reunited after they understood who I am. Here is that letter. Well David under the circumstance right now I think it’s better Kate and I just distance ourselves for a while because whenever I talk with her it only make me feel worse. I know she is having a hard time trying to understand what my son is going through and she is not interested in reading up on children born this way therefore she cannot be supportive of me accepting things the way I have. To her it is a choice, but for me it is not a choice whether I accept this or not. He is my son and I Love him unconditionally and always will and I will stand by him until I die. At this time in my life, I cannot take anyone upsetting me especially if they cannot have an open mind and be willing to check things out before being so judgmental. Hopefully one day she might be able to come to grips with this and at less try to understand how I feel and realize what pain and suffering my son has been going through all his life. He has as much right as we have to live his life the way he wants to and be happy instead of living his life the way other people feel he should just so they can feel comfortable. Their lack of understanding is due to their lack of information which is available concerning transgender children. I have learned a lot in the past 4 weeks. Going to the support group and talking to the pastor has really helped me to better understand and adjust to the way things are. Like they said it is not about me, it is about him and his happiness and it is not his problem it is our problem because we make it about us and what feel and want. That is why I thank God for helping me see beyond the outside appearance and to look into the heart and soul of the individual. For no matter what, inside he is the same person that I loved before. It is like if you took a love story book and changed the cover to something totally different. Once you open the book it would still be a love store, only the cover was changed. What we all look for in life is not approval but love and I have loved Kate all these years, not because of, but in spite of. I am watching my son drifting away right before my eyes and turning into Karen “a beautiful woman”. It is like watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly. You can find my TEDx or TED Talk “40 Years and Wandering No More”, when you Google my name. If you need to talk about anything, please email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at https://www.KKHolmes.com Until next time Shoot for the Moon and Even if You Miss, You’ll Be Among the STARS!
Respecting Each Other

Treat Others As You Wish to Be Treated is Not Just

"Cliché" it is "The Golden Rule" In Life! I Have

Feelings, A Mind and A Heart Who Serves and Cares

For Others. I Am A Human Being and Wish To Be

Treated as One, Like You Would Treat Your Mother,

Father, Children, Siblings, and Friends. Just Like You

Treat Them With Respect, I Too Want To Be Treated

With Respect. The Only Difference Between Them

and Me, I Am A Transgender Woman, One Who

Works For The Federal Government Now For 20

Years. A Military Veteran Who Was Given The

Honor As Soldier Of The Year by The State Guard

Association Of The United States in 2013. So Please

Treat Me As You Would Like To Be Treated, "It's The

Golden Rule" And The Right Thing To Do!

Wow in the past 10 years of my life it has been awesome for me since my transition. I know that with some Transgender people their lives have not been all that great. I just want to give you some Hope, Faith, and Love to say, "I Will Be In Your Corner Fighting For You"! I have been asked since my Genital Reconstructive Surgery (GRS) in 2016, why I am still so supportive and hanging out with the girls who are Crossdressers? My one answer to them all is, and I will always believe and say is, "I Will Never Forget Where I Came From".

Every time now when I speak at events, on the radio, and write my articles here, I am thinking of you the Transgender Community. What I can do to help and serve you in anyway. After I transition back on October 1, 2010 I was still volunteering with the Red Cross, CERT, Medical Reserve Corps, and RSVP and not for the Transgender Community. I started thinking to myself after a year later, what was wrong with that picture? So, I changed that and started serving the Transgender Community in anyway I could. After a year of my transition and knowing who I am, I felt like I could start speaking to others about my journey to other transgender people. Telling my story about my transition and the success on how things were going, I wanted to encourage my listeners that they too can have a wonderful and successful transition too. When speaking, I try to help Transgender people understand if they are seriously thinking about transitioning, they need to have a great plan and a platform which would help people to understands who they are in life, when they tell others they are Transgender, and people will not care.

In late 2019 I started volunteering as a ride-a-long with Prince George's County Police due to the two Transgender women Zoe Spears and Shanti Carmon who were murdered in the Fairmount Heights, MD area on Eastern Ave. When talking with the Trans sex workers the reason they were working the street is because they need home and food. Some of the girls really want to get off the streets. Now due to COVID-19, my rides have stopped so far.

January 2020, I was recommended by a couple of people to be on a program with the Department of Justice/Community Relations Services as a Subject Matter Expert on Transgender issues. I along with 15 other Transgender people and about 10 law enforcement officers from around the country were in the program and will be teamed up together. We all will be going to travel around the country to other law enforcement agencies to bridge the gap between Law Enforcement and the Transgender community. The nice thing during my training is that by lunch time I was asked by a couple of DOJ staff about doing a couple of trainings already. Here again due to COVID-19 the program is on stand-by and should be back up and going for 2021.

So right now, writing these articles for Baltimore OUTloud, speaking by Zoom for conferences and Hosting the radio show on Inside Out Collective on the web or in the DC area WPFW 89.3 FM. I am still on a mission to serve the Transgender community and to help those who are not part of the community to understand.

Just because I am a post-op transgender woman, I still want to be there for the community, never forgetting where I came from. You can find my TEDx or TED Talk "40 Years and Wandering No More", when you Google my name. If you need to talk about anything, please email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at https://www.KKHolmes.com Until next time Shoot for the Moon and Even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!

I never knew how my life would be as a woman, but it has its ups and downs. You are wondering what I am talking about, well let me take you back in time. To understand me completely I need to return to the age of 13. As a young teen boy, I started dressing up in girls' clothes. It was awesome and I got dressed up when ever I could. It started off putting my mom's dresses and shoes on. I would walk around the house until my parents came home and I was so happy. I am not sure how to measure being happy back then, comparing to my life today, but I am 200% happier than I have ever been. Keep one thing in mind when you read this article, I felt as a male before June 2010 I was happy. On October 1, 2010, my life changed forever for me and the journey began.

So, that weekend before October 1, 2010, I got my nails done and brought a new wig. The night before my big day I picked out my outfit to wear. Not to draw to much attention to myself I decided to wear pants, a nice top and one-inch black heels. That morning I got up extra early to get dress, do my make-up and hair. The most important thing I wanted to do was put my make-up on to be nice and subtle, not to heavy. My first week back I drove in because my mind was not ready for Metro transportation. The following week I stated to ride the metro train and making sure I sat properly on the train and caring for my purse in a way that I was not a target to be taken. The one main thing is to remember to take my purse and not to lay it down on the floor or seat. Knowing how to walk over the street crakes and always being aware of my surroundings. Trying to remember to check my car before getting in for safety reason was a must.

I have had some challenges in my life since my transition. For starters, the zipper on pants are on the other side, buttons on women's blouses are on the other side. What use to take me 5 minutes to wash my hair, now takes me 45 minutes to an hour to wash and dry. If I go to the hairdresser, I am there four to five hours. If I go to a sporting, concert or movie event the lady's bathroom line is out the door and down the hall. The one main thing that I never thought about is the cattiness among women on your looks and what you may wear. My first 2 weeks back to work I heard from my old boss is that a couple of the women said that my outfit look like I was going to a night club, which I never wore anything like that. I did not even wear a dress until my second month, it was always pants. A good girlfriend of mine at work said, "Do not worry, "Welcome to the Catty World". I said to myself, "This is what I have to deal with now"! Learning now medical terms and questions I am asked as a woman. Stopping them after I have said no to i.e., being pregnant, had any children or when was my last period. The one thing I hate is my annual mammogram and having my boobs crushed. I had to learn which was genuinely nice, men opening doors for me, letting me go first through the door, and giving up their seat on Metro train. What I have not like is men thinking they know better than women and out speaking to us in meetings. When I was an active soldier as a Corporal, a Colonel tried to oversee what I was doing, but another Colonel advised him right away to say, "Corporal Holmes got this, and things are going great". Later that day the General gave me his Challenge Coin.

After all that I have gone through in the past 10 years, I would not change a thing and I Love My Life as A Woman. You can find my TEDx or TED Talk when you Google my name. If you need to talk about anything, email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com. Until next time Shoot for the Moon & Even if You Miss, You'll Be Among The STARS!

The day I transition and the fear that crossed my mind weather I would I be accepted with the public. The question I believe every Transgender person thinks about when they walk out the door is will, I be spotted, and the word we use is clocked. The public can be a cruel world for us if we do not pass, and it can also be rough once someone finds out who is Transphobia. I remembered my first time out in public and I feel I was incredibly lucky to have passed to most people I may have met. I feel being able to pass helped a lot in my favor, my voice, no Adam's apple, and my height worked in my favor. For some, they must go through so much to be themselves by having facial feminization, body sculpting, tracheal shave, breast augmentation, female to male top surgery, hair grafting, etc. To some Transgender people Gender Confirmation Surgery may or may come later, which is up to that person. No matter what a Transgender person want to live the life they are meant to be. Why should anyone take that away from us. We are not hurting anyone; we just want to be happy.

I feel that once you transition full-time you really need to be positive in who you are and to give yourself the time it takes to be you through hormone therapy. Some transgender people expect that they will look feminine or masculine in a month or two, but some maybe blessed to look the way they want.

Some Transgender people from male to female have lost respect from senior management on their job with the training they know. Not being asked to be at the table and taken seriously for what they know now being a woman. Some transwomen have been overlooked for jobs and or promotions. I feel as a Transgender woman that they add to a job description that you may not meet, only to keep you at a low-level position. Knowing how to lead people through your skills, they do not allow you much time to build on it. You have a specialty in a field you like and want to do. Managers I feel do not give you the time to be the best at your field, while giving you more other work to do. The thing is to accept us for our skills and not hold us back for living our authentic self. Just because we transition, we still have the skills that we did, and we did not lose them just because we transition. I guess some people fill that once we transition, everything we know and learned is gone.

Sometimes people learn of our past from male to female, and they think we still carry the same traits and strength of a male. I cannot answer for all transman, but I feel it is the same, that they are still weak physically and emotionally. The mission for each Transgender person is to let and show non-Transgender people know that we are not what you may see or have heard on the Jerry Springer show. Our mission is to change the minds about who we are, and to hopefully gain the respect of who we are being Transgender. We need your help to be our advocate, a strong advocate to help change people's mines, and to respect us and give us a chance in this world. We want to be happy and do things on our own without the help from government. Will you help us, and will you take up the fight with us? For me I am like this pebble that has been tossed in the water. I hope that my story will have a ripple effect in changing lives for the best.

You can find my TEDx Talk when you Google my name. If you need to talk you can email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "The Truth, Set Me Free". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!

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 kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com 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!
To start my story with this journey of Hope, Faith, and Love, I never thought my life would turn out the way it is today. For years before my transition date October 1, 2010 the thought never cross my mine to live my life as a woman, even though I was dressing like one for 40 years of my life. I use to always wish in my 30s and 40s I wish I had three wishes. My first wish would be to have all the wishes I could have, so that I could say this day I want to be a woman and later switch back when I had too. When I went to my first Philadelphia Trans Health Conference and hearing other Transgender people's story, I knew my life was about to change forever. Later that weekend on my drive back home, I knew I had to do whatever it took to transition from male to female, but I knew I could not do it all on my own. I turned to the only person I knew I could trust and put my hope into, and that was God. I started praying a lot for the next three weeks before I saw my friend and co-work Andrea at work. Not knowing how my talk would be with Andrea, I really put my hope in her that she would know how to handle my big decision on my life. Andrea, talked with the Director of Civil Rights and Inclusiveness, telling her my story without giving up my name. The response I received from that talk was that I would able to talk with the director. The director said she would talk with the CEO of the agency about my story. The CEO response back to her was to do whatever it took to make my transition go through. Now comes my Faith in the Director of Civil Rights and Inclusiveness and my Agency. So, the director advised me that they wanted me to break the news to the agency in three months. The plan was to tell everyone across the country on the same time and day. Putting my faith in her that she had my best interest at heart, I said ok. We met every week going through every phase of my transition, and I started calling the Director and the Assistance Director my "Transition Team". The first three weeks, we worked on the beginning phases of what we wanted to do and seeing who my trainer would be. On the third weekend, I was at home looking at my friends on Facebook and I came across my friend Donna Rose. In going through her bio, I said I wish we were going to have her do my training to the agency. On Monday when meeting with my Transition Team, they told me they were going to have Donna Rose do my training. Wow, putting my faith in my transition team, I knew I would be in good hands now with Donna. I message Donna later and told her that with her as my trainer, this was like being in the World Series seventh and final game. Picture this: It is the bottom of the ninth inning, and we are down by three runs and we have the bases loaded with two outs. Donna comes to the plate and hits a Grand Slam Homer. Donna's response to me was: "Yes, I will hit a Grand Slam." Well now comes the Love in my story, and that is telling my family two weeks before my transition day on October 1, 2010. In talking with my brother, it was ok with him, and he just told me to give him time to adjust. I then called my dad and my dad said who was he to judge and he understood my decision. The only question he asked me was, "Are you going to keep your last name." My response was yes, and he said, "OK". Then I told my mom and she was scared for me, but she told me she was behind me all the way and that she loved me unconditionally. After my transition date we told the rest of the family and friends who were close to me. Their response was also with love and care towards me. After all this all I can say, when or if you going to transition, you got to have Hope, Faith, and Love. You can find my talk when you Google my name. You can email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "Being Accepted with the Public". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
WOW, taking these words Making A Difference is My Mission, is my meaning of the word volunteer. This word volunteer is like a virus that runs through my body in a good way. The virus I have come to know, and love is incredible, and I Love it. I hope by sharing that I can give it to you today. Once you get this volunteer virus, there is no cure for it. For years I have been volunteering since 1975, when it started with Cystic Fibrosis. Over the years volunteering just grew and grew to other volunteer service work. In 2003 with my agency I received the Willis Greene Community Service Award. The award is given to someone in our agency, for doing outstanding service work outside of our agency. I have always had this saying, "Never Forget Where You Come From and also Help Those Who Need Help"!!! For some odd reason I tend to look for the opportunity to serve others. I have learned over the years that if I can help others and giving them joy, happiness, to see a smile on their faces, gives me so much joy. In 2004 I joined the Park Police Volunteer Association. With them I was the president for 5 out of the 7 years, 4 of them in a row as the president. In the 7 years I received the Commander's Award twice, and Volunteer of the Year Award twice. In 2008 at work I joined as a member of the Disaster Team. After a year because our department was so busy, I could never get a chance to help on any disasters. So later in 2008 I joined the Red Cross as a Disaster Response Member. Throughout the years with Red Cross I was a Trainer, Emergency Response Vehicle Driver, Shelter Trailer Driver, and Shelter Manager. I also sat on three boards. In 2010 because I like helping people, I started my own business teaching First Aid, CPR & AED. In 2012 I joined a group called NorthStar Global Response, and we were going to respond to disasters International. My team and I went to Haiti to teach the Haitians on how to do Search and Rescue, and Swift Water Recue for two weeks for 50 people. In 2012 also I started speaking at events to help the Transgender Community, to find peace and encouragement that they can have a happy life. I would speak to non-transgender people to get them to understand the community. In 2019 two Transgender sex worker women were murdered, and I was asked by Prince George's County Police if I would help try to get the women get off the streets, and I agreed to help. Right now, I do ride-a-longs with the police talking with the ladies. Now I will be volunteering with Department of Justice / Community Relation Service working with other police officers, going around the country talking with other police officers. We want to bridge the gap between the transgender community and the police. For some odd reason still, I cannot say no when asked if I will or would help. A month ago, I was asked by my church if I would sit on the church council over seeing Technology and Communication while still doing security. After I told them I wanted to pray about it, a few days later I said yes. I feel for me, "Making A Difference is My Mission," and this is just another way of helping. I hope by me telling you my story that I have now infected you with this virus into your blood system called Volunteer!!! You can find my talk when you Google my name. You can email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "Will She Find It". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
The question I ask myself and other Transgender people ask too is will our spouse ever find our clothes that we are dressing in clothes of the opposite sex. Crossdressers even ask themselves that same question: "Will my spouse or partner find my clothes. The last thing we want is that our partners to think we are cheating on them when we are not. Things I will tell you in this article only relates to me. I am sure that some of you who are Transgender, or a Crossdresser can and will relate to what I am about to write. Your spouse or partner will be wondering about whether you are Transgender or a Crossdresser if they are reading this, but please do not start questioning them. So, my story starts off like this, when I started dressing from the age of 13 util I finally understood who I was as a Transgender woman, 40 years later, I was hiding my clothes everywhere. My tag line and my TEDx Talk is and was "40 Years and Wandering No More". I am going to start off in 1989 when I got married for the second time to a wonderful and beautiful woman. I had stopped crossdressing almost a year before getting married to her, thinking I had kicked the habit. I really thought at that time getting married I was done with this lifestyle of crossdressing. A year into my marriage I could not stand it anymore and I started dressing again with my wife's clothes. Later as the weeks, months went by I started buying my own clothes again from the thrift shops. My big problem now was where in my apartment, and later in my home would I be hiding my clothes, which was a challenge. When we lived in the apartment at first, I could only hide my clothes in the trunk of my car. In my home later that we were renting I had a couple of places as well in the trunk of my car. I was able to tuck them in a gym bag and place the bag all the way in the back-placing things in front. I also hide clothes in the spare tire area in the trunk. In our new home I found a place in the basement in the furnace area. Later my stash of clothes got to be so much I had obtained a medium to a large box. Later, with certain clothes I would hide clothes inside of my dark shirts, and suits on my side in our shared closet. I would even hide my panties in the pockets of my suits or barely worn pants as well. I know that was a gutsy move hiding then in the closet, but when you are obsessed in something you will do anything. I would even switch out summer and winter clothes and placed in the attic knowing she would not go up there. So, when I hide my women's clothes, I always had to think and know where she would not go. There were a couple times my ex found my panties that I had washed and left them in the dryer. So, no matter what, I was always wondering and worried if she would find my clothes. My ex did question me about the panties, saying she felt I was still dressing. When she did question me, I always deny it. She knew I was not telling the truth, but I just kept saying I was not dressing anymore. The one thing she would always throw up in my face when she thought I was dressing was, "You would make an ugly woman". All I can say to her is, "Look at me now baby"! You can find my talk when you Google my name. You can email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "Making A Difference is My Mission". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
It all started one evening on November 2nd, 2017 while volunteering at the Gender Conference East in New Jersey. At our staff dinner, that evening I was sitting next to a gentleman named Jean. While talking with Jean he asked me if I have ever done a TEDx Talk before. He suggested I pursue one at Asbury Park, New Jersey, with the next theme on "Passion." He then texted a gentleman with TEDx Asbury Park. Later, I was in a session given by my surgeon Dr. Rachel Bluebond-Langner. I shared my surgical experience with the audience and expressed the gratitude I felt towards my surgeon. Afterwards, a man walked up to me and introduced himself as Eric Wiener and asked if I was Karen Holmes. I said yes, and he told me he was sitting behind me in the Dr. Bluebond-Langner session. He went on to say that I showed a lot of passion talking about my surgery and surgeon. He told me he was with TEDx Asbury Park and gave me his business card. He recommended I apply to TEDx for the next upcoming show on May 19th, 2018. For a couple of weeks, I wondered if I could do the talk, and so I sent in my application on January 29th, 2018. Three weeks later I received an email telling me that TEDx Asbury Park wanted me to either come in to do a live audition or send in a video. I started working on my speech and rehearsing every day. So, for the next couple of weeks I worked diligently on my speech. My talk would be "40 Years and Wandering No More". That evening like so many times before, when I got on stage, I changed my speech on the spot, and I felt like I knocked it out of the park. A month later I received an email from TEDx Asbury Park that read, "Congratulation we want you to be on the Live Show on May 19th, 2018." A week later, I got my first coach, and his name was Don. He loved my speech when I rehearsed it over Skype for him. Next, I rehearsed over Skype in front of eight coaches, two weeks before I was to go live on stage, I got a new coach named Joel. That night while rehearsing on Skype with Joel, he suggested I change my talk to speak about Tony (my birthname) first and then work in my talk about Karen. The next day Joel and I met on Skype again to rehearse and he told me that he was blown away with how well I changed my talk using his suggestions in just one day. After a couple of more rehearsals, Joel said he had me 95% ready and he wanted me to work with a woman name MK who would get me too 110% ready. She had a couple of suggestions about making Tony a little more personal. I took off work in a couple of days and headed to Asbury Park for the dress rehearsal. I went to the Paramount Theatre to find out my dress rehearsal was not until 3 pm. Before heading back over I wanted to say a prayer, asking God for His help. At 3 I went on stage to do my dress rehearsal talk and once again, I knocked it out of the park! My first coach Don came backstage in tears, and I asked him not to cry because I would start crying too. I just wanted to be able to repeat my talk with the same passion for the live show. Well the time finally came the next day, and it was my turn to do my talk. I walked out onto the red dot on stage, and not nervous at all – I was simply happy to get out there and get it over with. I spoke with such confidence and passion and I received several claps and laughs during my talk. My talk took ten minutes, and as I walked off the stage, there were tears and claps, with everyone standing. I gave a big sigh of relief and a long exhale as I went backstage. You can find my talk when you Google my name. You can email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at Kkholmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "Will She Find It." Until then, "Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll be among the stars!"
Taking you back prior to my transition in 2010, my love life was average. I did good at dating when I was not in a relationship. I was married twice before and engaged to be married again for the third time. My first marriage only lasted six months, because she said she really was not ready for marriage. The second lasted before it was all over 19 years. I felt like it was a good marriage, but with issues here and there. During my 19 years of marriage I was still crossdressing all through that time, denying to my wife I was not for all those years. She never found my clothes except for when I left a pair of panties a couple of times in the washing machine or dryer. No matter of my crossdressing I still loved my wife and her children from her previous marriage. Later I met a beautiful woman again who live in Seattle, Washington online, which later I propose to her. All during that time with her I was still crossdressing. Whenever I was going to Seattle or she was flying in I would grow my mustache back. After our first year she called off the engagement, which I had crashed and burned over the breakup. A month later she wanted to get back together, which I was still crossdressing, and still did not know I was. A year later she called off the engagement again, but this time for good. After the second time she called it off, I knew it was meant to be. At that time, I said to myself I was going to crossdress all the time, still not knowing I was Transgender. In June of 2010 at a conference in Philadelphia I realized who I really was, I was Transgender. I went back home ready to transition, to live full time as a woman. On October 1, 2010, I transition living as aa woman 24/7, being 150% happier than I had ever been. After my transition I decided not to date anyone for five to six years, because I knew I needed to concentrate on myself and my new life as a woman. During those five years I had men and women interested in me, but I still did not want to be in a relationship yet. After my first five years, I started thinking I was ready to start dating and wanted someone to be a part of my life. Well later I joined a dating site called Black People Meet, then Plenty of Fish, then Match.Com. None of them worked out for me on response, which was a bummer. I have to say on Black People Meet, I wanted to test the water to see how responses I would get with men. Oh, I forgot to say I am still interested in women, but I wanted to see how men would react. In three weeks, I had around 150 men respond. I narrowed it down to 100 men. Then I told those men I was Transgender, and 75 men told me they did not care. I never followed up going out with any of them. I later dropped off the internet and thought I would try the old fashion way at the LGBTQ bars or clubs. I came close a couple of times meeting someone, but they fell through. So, over the next few years, I have been looking, but no one has had interesting in me. In the last couple of days, I decided to get back on Black People Meet again to see if I will have better luck this time. So far again there are no catches. Maybe I should just give up on love or just give it some more time. You can find me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "My TEDx Talk Experience". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
In 2010 I went to my first Keystone Conference, as Karen before I transition full time. When I was invited by a friend to go to this conference, I was so excited to be able to meet old friends and make new ones for life. After seeing a few friends, I checked in with the hotel's registration desk, and to my surprise I was welcomed with smiles by a wonderful staff. I then checked in with the conference registration table for my name tag and program book. A book full of information on workshops schedules, from life stories to Gender Confirmation Surgery. As I walked through the vendor's room, I picked up a lot of information of programs on support groups, upcoming events, clothing, jewelry, photos, makeup artist, doctors, name change, etc. Later I went to change into my bathing suit to get in the jacuzzi. While in the jacuzzi I met up with some friends to talk about what workshops we might attend. Having great conversations with old friends and new ones, about where they were in their journey. One of the nicest things at the conference is meeting up with my sorority sisters with the Vanity Club. We all get together for drinks and diner as a group, and then we have an induction and pinning new ladies to the group. I do not know why, but some people think that the Vanity Club are snobs. Maybe it is because there is a cap on how women we will have in our group. You also need to be recommended by someone in the group and later be voted in. The cap to the group is 500 ladies and it is only Transgender ladies can be in the group. There is a restaurant called the Dog & Pony, that serves good drinks, breakfast, lunch, and diner. Here is a chance to meet new ladies coming out for the first time, and making them feel comfortable with encouragement in who they are. Introducing them to my friends and vendors that may be able to help them with fashion, make up and clothes. No one will make you feel out of place, only to encourage the woman inside of you. One lady who is awesome with makeup is Elizabeth Taylor with Makeovers with Elizabeth Taylor. Her make up on you will make you look so beautiful and you will not even recognize yourself. Workshops are about Coming Out to Family and Work, Law, Safety, and Surgery for Transwomen and Transmen. You hear Transgender speakers about their struggles or positive uplifting stories. What made their transition go well or the mistakes that were made. You get to hear and see how to walk and talk like a woman. They have keynote speakers who come in and speak to the group for lunch and dinner to motivate us. The greatest thing about the Keystone Conference is the Dinner Dance Gala, where you will see awesome gowns being worn. Before we all go into dinner, there is cocktails, and photos taken by Cassandra Storm Photography, Inc. Cassandra takes the most beautiful photos, that bringing out the true beauty in you. During dinner, the food is awesome and filling with wonderful conversation. After dinner we hear from a keynote speaker and then a fantastic all-girl band to dance too called Wicked Jezabel, playing all kinds of music. The greatest thing I want to say about being at Keystone is being treated by the staff at the Sheraton Hotel Harrisburg PA., with total respect. Their staff over the years love us to death. A lot of the staff have told me that a lot of the staff looks for us each year, and they request to sign up to work. A lot of the staff even remember who we are from past years. I just love the Keystone Conference for a lifetime experience! You can find me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "Love Before and After Transition". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
It started two weeks before "D Day", when I told my family I was going to transition on October 1, 2010, as a woman. I had no idea the response I was going to get from them, with their full support. I told my mother that my name would be Karen. Something she never told me before, that when she was pregnant with me if I were a girl, she would have name me Karen. She never told me that and I totally lost it with tears. What was good my family was accepting me for who I was deep inside. Within the two weeks my mom told my aunts, uncles, and cousins that I would be transitioning full time as a woman. What really surprised me is that all of them understood it was a lifesaving moment, except for a couple of uncles. I really did not understand how much it bothered me losing my favorite uncles. Leading up to my first day as a woman, my mother studied and learned what my transition was all about. She read every information I gave her, getting a bird's eye view what my life would be all about in the future. I even gave her a book to read and that I would give her another one afterwards. When she finished the first book, she loaned it to a neighbor friend. I asked her why she loan it out because I had not read it yet. Her response was, "I thought you had read it already because everything you are doing was inside the book". When ever my brother would come over for a visit and he heard my mother use the wrong gender, he would nicely slap her hand as a reminder to call me with the correct gender. Later I had to go easy on my mom because of her age, which was hard for me to understand. My dad and sister were good at supporting me in every way. Now my mom has not only been supportive of me, but she has been immensely proud of me going to a lot of my talking events, like my TEDx Talk in Ashbury Park and awards. Telling me how much she loves me, sending me birthday and holiday cards that say, my daughter on them. My brother would call me and hang out with me when he comes to visit. When we talked on the phone, he would tell me afterwards, saying, "I love you" each time. He also gives me cards that say to my sister on them. My sister is such a wonderful sweetheart towards me and the love between us is great. Sometimes we would hang out at home, going shopping, or going to get something to eat. With my dad, he calls me often to see how things are going with me and what I have been up too. Due to his age I go up to see him when I can, but he understands how busy I have become. No matter how busy I am when we talk on the phone, he always tells me, "I love you". His cards to me also have to my daughter on them. All my cousin loves me to death for who I am and the things I do to help the transgender community. We hang out, go with me to dinner, clubs, movies, picnics, and a lot more. Their support and love have been awesome and so real. All my aunts love me and accept me for who I am, except for one due to how her husband, my uncle, being Transgender. My uncle has written me off, not speaking to me and talking to my cousins to turn their backs on me, which none of them have. My mother and cousins do know how I feel about my uncle now, even after I try to build the bridge between him and I. For what he has done to me trying to turn my cousins against me, that bridge now has been burned. My family is awesome. You can find me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "My Keystone Experience". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
WOW, I am so excited to say that coming up on April 8, 2020 will be my fourth year Anniversary from having Gender Conformation. I can honestly say without a doubt I would never turn back, and I am 200% Happier than I've ever been in my life. On October 1, 2010, I went full time with my transition living as a woman 24/7, but there was still something missing in my life that needed to be done. Having Gender Conformation at the time was very important for me to have. Normally a Transgender person must wait a year after they transition living as the opposite sex. After my transition God placed it in my heart to wait five years to have the surgery, which I am glad I did. My plan was to take a loan out of my TSP in five years to cover my surgery. In waiting the five years to have my surgery what would have cost $45K, it was only $450.00 for my co-payment. WOW, "Let's Roll", my Gender Conformation for surgery was scheduled for April 8, 2016. After my surgery, on April 25, 2016 I was interviewed by ABC2 News out of Baltimore, MD about my life. I was very happy about having my surgery, so if I had other surgeries later no one would know I was Transgender. In the past whenever I was under anesthesia, I was always wonder before I had my gender conformation is what the operating team was thinking when they saw I had male genitalia. Now when go to drill and staying overnight, going to the fitness center, or the pool, etc., I don't worry about someone seeing me. Although women are very self-conscious of their bodies, this is still one stress I didn't have to worry about anymore. Some of my coolest things to wear now is a bathing suit without the skirt, tights, yoga pants etc. My happiest in life right now, is I feel great about my body. There are some challenges I have face now since my gender conformation, and that is using the lady's bathroom at concert, sporting events, and movies with long lines that go out the bathroom door and down the hall. Before I sit on the toilet to take a pee, I have to wonder is the toilet seat wet or is there toilet paper. I used to wonder when I was married why my ex-wife would go through so much toilet paper, and now I know why. My life is not like it used to be when I had male genitalia, I could just shake it and go. Now I must wipe and if I do both, it is having to use more toilet paper. For those who don't understand, for women or post-op Transwomen we must use more if we do both number one and two. We must wipe forward for number one and wipe back for number two. The challenge for me now after 45 years in learning something one way when I was male and having to learning a new way to wipe as a woman. The worst for me now is if I must take a pee bad is having to just un-zip and pee, rather than un-zip and pulling down my pants. Oh, and the really bad thing as a woman having to pee and you are in the car traveling on a trip, you can't just pee behind a tree or in the car with a jar, LOL. In all this change in my life, I wouldn't change a thing. Sometimes now, coming up on my fourth-year celebration of Gender Conformation I still have these "Aha Moments", that I had the surgery, and I am a full woman being my true self. My life now is a dream that has come true. You can find me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "Being Loved By The Church". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
WOW, where do I start with this story other than saying: "God has Me here for a reason". There has been so many times I would be dead or killed right now due to work or just by helping someone in need. So, to start this story off I need to go back before I transition, back in the mid 70's when I worked for an alarm company. I worked the midnight shift until 8:00 am responding to some of the alarms or trouble shooting depending on their status or if we had keys to the establishment. There had been times in the three years working with this one alarm +company when responding to alarms I would have walked in on a burglar or that they had just left the scene. There was even a time after responding to a business to reset the alarm that the next day a report was made that the safe was taken. The burglar(s) came through the wall next door and either were still there or came back after I left. The last and really close call was when I took off to be with my ex-wife, whose mother had died on a Tuesday. On that Friday a co-worker who covered for me and a police officer were shot and killed responding to an alarm. Going to my co-worker's funeral the following week, felt like I was going to my own. While carrying the casket with his body was like carrying my body. Now looking back at that time, God allowed me to get married to my ex-wife, so that I would not go to work that week. My ex-mother in law's death was a reason for me to live. My ex and I were only married for six months, and I now believe that is why she was a part of my life for a short time. Years later in October 1, 2010 I transition full time as a woman, because after 40 years and wandering no more I knew then who I am. Later November 17, 2012 I gave my first speech at the Transgender Day of Remembrance Event and have been speaking ever since to other Transgender people to encourage them in living a wonderful life-. I also speak to non-transgender people to help them understand who we are as Transgender people trying to live a happy life. In February of 2017 I stopped to help at an accident at 5:45 am, pitch dark on the beltway in Maryland. While trying to retrieve some emergency lights from the trunk of my car, I just happen to look back and moved off to the side of my car. A car came within seconds and a foot from the rear of my car and hitting me. I never thought I would be living a life today speaking and being an advocate to the Transgender community, but here I am. I feel that God has me on a path, to help others. When I transitioned, I really wanted to live a normal life as a woman just being happy. God knows my heart, when I have always said, "I never want to forget where I've come from and that is why I speak. I have been speaking with police, fire, military, medical, schools, universities, and at conferences. I did a TEDx Talk Asbury Park, NJ, Podcast, StoryCorps, Armed Forces Television Network, etc. Everyone I feel is here on this earth for a reason and I have changed lives. Have you tap into why you are here yet? I know with all my heart why I am here. You can find me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "My Forth Year Having Gender Conformation". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
In July of 2019, I received a phone call from a Major Waddy with Prince George's County Police 3rd District. She called me due to a second murder of a transwomen in her district. I was asked if I wanted to help in some way to get the Trans Sex workers off the street because she didn't want to see anymore ladies murdered in Fairmont Heights, MD. This part of Eastern Ave is the border line between Fairmont Heights, MD and Washington DC NE. The Major told me that she was tired of playing ping pong with the ladies with DC Police. She told me she didn't really want to arrest them, because they would just end up back on the street. I told the Major I would love to help in any way I could to help solve the problem. The Major and I met on June 24, 2019 for a good hour and a half on what I could do. A plan was set that I would do Ride-A-Longs with her special unit that just patrols up and down Eastern Ave. from midnight until 5:30 am. Once I saw any of the ladies out there, the officer would stop for me and I would get out of the police car to talk with them. On July 12, 2019 I met Chief Hawk Stawinski with Prince George's County Police whom Major Waddy introduce me too. She explained to the Chief our plan on me working with the police doing the ride-a-longs. The Chief advised me that he would be grateful and anything he could do to help, to let him know. On July 18, 2019, I took my first ride-a-long with the special unit of Prince George's County Police. On this night I was able to stop and talk with three Transwomen. I wasn't sure of how they would respond to me getting out of a marked police car. When I approached them, I would say, "Hi my name is Karen, can I talk with you"? I did advise them I was not a police officer and I wanted to know if there was any way I could help get them off the streets. To their surprise I told them I was also Transgender. I was letting them know that I was putting a coalition together in Prince George's County, MD with Heart to Hand, Inc. I told the girls to remember my face and that I would be out here once or twice a month checking on them. I also told them when they see Prince George's County Police riding up and down Eastern Ave., that they just wanted to make sure they were safe, and not to arrest them. Some of plans I want to do, is to help them with a resume, and to sit across the table from them and roll play a job interview. I also would like to team up with a thrift store(s), Good Will or Salvation Army, that might donate clothes to the ladies to go to work in. I believe, we citizens donate clothes to them to sell, how about they donate clothes to the ladies who has a letter from the coalition. Since my first ride-a-long, I have met and talked with 22 Transwomen and they all have told me the same thing, that they want to get off the street, get a job and a home. Some do have a place to stay, and some will couch surf. One lady I talked with said she is renting a room, and it's hard to live there because she pays $400.00 a month, which is all of her disability check. She told me she doesn't want to stay in a shelter because it would be unsafe having to live with men. I feel I am reaching them slowly, because one of the women has called me twice. This week she called again saying she really wants to get off the streets now, because the other night she was raped. Tonight, February 22, 2020, I will do a ride-a-long to see if I can find her. You can find me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at http://www.KKHolmes.com In my next article I'll talk about "God Has Me Here For A Reason". Until then Shoot for the Moon and even if You Miss, You'll Be Among the STARS!
Understanding what I needed to learn and staying safe as a woman since I transitioned full-time back on October 1st, 2010 has been quite a journey. I knew my life would change for the best, but I had no idea it would be to the level it is today. Being the type of person who I am, I always want to help people in need. As a woman, safety is very important. Before when I was a man, I would stop for people who were broken down on the road or in an accident – anytime anywhere. Now I don't stop anymore. If I do happen to stop for some odd reason, it must be in a well-known location and during daylight. Instead, I generally will call 911 instead. Granted, I've never been sexually assaulted or raped, but the thought of that – or God forbid getting murdered – scares me. It's hard to believe someone attacking me because I'm trans, because they didn't know and now they are embarrassed and their ego is bruised. A transwoman told me that some ladies don't disclose their status when wanting to date someone male or female. I asked why some of the ladies don't tell the males that they are trans. Their comment was, "They will find out eventually." I replied, "No you shouldn't do that!" I feel if you are going to be intimate with someone in a relationship you should be up-front with them, giving that person the respect and the choice about whether they still want to date you. For me, I tell them up-front, especially if it is a male, so that they don't get pissed off at me. I would hate to be assaulted or murdered when we go out to dinner and he spends $100 to $150 on me, and later he finds out. Try not to go into areas that may be bad. If you go down the wrong street by accident, make like you know where you are even if you don't. I feel when you give off vibes that you are lost, that makes you a target. Keep your car doors locked and your purse on the car floor up front or in the rear with your window up. The one thing you don't want to do is to have your purse on the seat and the window is down and someone reaches in and takes it off the seat. Another thing, when I'm on the escalator riding up at the train or metro station, I keep my purse on my right side so no one will snatch it. If I am on the metro, train, or bus and it is crowded, I keep my purse snapped or zipped up, keeping it in front of me. If you are meeting someone new, meet them at a well-known location and tell a good friend where you are going and who you are meeting. If you are having them pick you up and before you get into their car, take a photo of their license plate. Send the photo to your friend and if you can take and send a selfie of you both. One very important thing to do is to check out if your state allows you to carry mace and/or pepper spray. If you can carry a gun, please get the proper training on how and when to use it. I feel if you get a license to carry for protection, be ready to use it. In my next article I'll talk about "Working with the police and bridging the Gap". Until then, shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll be among the stars!
Living a double life for 40 years wasn't easy. I thought after all those years I was like Superman. Any chance I had, I was dressing like a female. To help you understand, I'll start from the beginning when I was 13 years old, when I first started dressing. I started exploring in my mother's closet looking at all the hot and wonderful clothes she wore, from medium-length dresses and skirts to mini dresses and skirts. My mom was smoking hot in her younger days. Okay, she still is at her young age of 83. Although my mother had some awesome clothes, I really liked the style and look of my Aunt Harriet. I would take the clothes my mother had and styled them up to what I believed my aunt would wear. So, around the house whenever I had the chance I would dress up. After school (and most of all when school was out), I would dress all day long until I thought my mom would be coming home. She never knew when I called and asked her when she was leaving that that it gave me that much time to stay dressed. Even if I didn't know when she was coming home, I had my male clothes ready to jump into like a fireman when I heard her coming in. Later when I got older and started to shop at the store, I had hiding places in my house that no one could find. I would hide my women's clothes in my bedroom in the drop ceiling, footlocker, and in even the trunk of my car. Sometimes, depending on the clothes, I could mix them in with my male clothes in the drawer or closet. I was good at hiding things. When I would go somewhere in my car, I would change somewhere nearby the house, such as in the car at the park or the gas station. Then when I got near to where I was going, I would park somewhere and change back into my male clothes. I got so good at changing, I could from male to female in about ten minutes, makeup and all. I would always carry a jug of water to wipe off my makeup. I believe the hardest thing for me to do when being out at a club was remembering which name I was at the time. When I had an email account, I had to remember in my writing who I was at the time and not to slip up, mostly when I was on my work email. There were many times that my mind was in the mode of Karen and I didn't know why. Sometimes I wish I could come to work dressed as Karen and work all day that way. I even would imagine myself taking the metro to work and walking down the street as Karen. All these times in the past I wondered what it would be like to go to work as Karen, never knowing why I felt that way so deep down inside. Years later I got married, and the hardest thing was for me to come to terms with living this way and being married to someone you loved and not hurting her. While I was married for 18 years, I knew it was wrong, but I didn't understand it myself. After my divorce and I realized that I was transgender I tried to call my ex to say, "I'm sorry." I tried multiple times to tell her I was sorry, but she never returned my calls. My stepkids knew I wanted to say those words, "I'm sorry," but she still didn't call, however I did apologize to the kids. Maybe one day she will see and read this article and know deep down inside of me, I am so sorry, and that I never meant to hurt her. Now, I can truly understand who I am, and that I am 200% happier than I have ever been. My next article will be titled "Staying Safe as A Woman Now." Visit my personal website at Kkholmes.com, or for comments write to me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com. Remember one thing … Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll be among the stars.
Since my transition I've faced some challenges and changes in my life. When I hear people say, I made a choice, they really don't understand that it was a "decision, not a choice." The way society treats us, we lose our spouse, children, family, home, work, and friends. People want to attack, even murder us. Knowing all this is possible, we still want to be our true selves. Sometimes the pain is so bad, we end up committing suicide. After many prayers, I felt from God a total peace that I was doing the right thing. One of my biggest challenges was telling my mother I was transgender. My mother tends to worry a lot about things and most of all about me. Getting my mother to start using my new name and using the proper pronoun was going to be a challenge. One of the most embarrassing times was at the store and she would say "he," which would drive me crazy. I had to get her to understand that when she uses the wrong gender in front of people, we don't know if they are transphobic, and that it could possibly put my life in danger. Now, my mother is much better, and occasionally she may slip, but is quick to correct herself. Another challenge I faced was transitioning on the job. With staff who knew you before, they either accept you or not, and you need to know how to deal with it. You need to understand that your transition is a process for people in your life. It will take them time to adjust. When you transition, they transition too. For new staff coming on, it is a matter of others not outing you to them, so that you can tell them when you are ready. One main thing to keep in mind is you may be fired from your job. I tell other transgender people to carry themselves in a positive way. Build yourself a "platform" for yourself, so when you tell others you are transgender, they won't care. You want people to know who you are on the inside, rather than focusing on your outward appearance. My mother wrote in a letter to a friend of hers, "Just because the cover of the book has changed, inside the story still remains the same." Some challenges I didn't totally anticipate. It used to take me five minutes to wash my hair, but now that's 45 minutes to an hour. At concerts or sporting events, the bathroom lines I face are out the door. Buttons on blouses and zippers on pants are on the other side. Sometimes I find myself changing outfits three or four times to match shoes and purses. I've had to learn medical terms of the other gender, which you are now. In my next article I will talk about "Living a Double Life."
Getting sworn into the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) as a state guard soldier one evening in November 2011 was something I'll never forget. This is Maryland's state defense force. The MDDF is organized as a volunteer military organization, parallel to the Maryland National Guard, which it is designed to augment during stateside emergencies. Before getting into my journey with MDDF let me take you back to August 2011. It was a summer day in August when I was with the Prince George's County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The CERT program trains citizens to prepare for emergency situations in their communities. When a disaster strikes, CERT members give critical support to first-responders, aid to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. So, on that sunny day, our group headed out to Baltimore County for a CERT Rodeo, with competing teams from other Maryland counties. When we arrived at the Baltimore County Fire Academy, I pulled together my own six-person team for the events. Throughout the day, my team was kicking butts, winning four awards. Later that day, three soldiers with the MDDF who were watching the events – a captain, staff sergeant, and a sergeant – talked with us. They told us about a special team they were putting together within MDDF's Honor Guard. The unit would be doing search and rescue (SAR) for the state of Maryland. Since one of the components to CERT is SAR, that caught my interest. Now back to the evening in November 2011 when I was sworn into the MDDF as a soldier, with the as a corporal with the honor guard team. Later that night I was given my welcome packet to the MDDF, with the guidelines, rules, and regulations, which followed Army customs. In reading the guidelines, I saw that it said female soldiers could not wear makeup, eye color, and nails that were painted. After I saw that I said to myself, "Let me out of here!" Well, that thought went out of my head real fast. No one knew that I was transgender, since all my paperwork had my new legal name. That included my passport (which I could use instead of my birth certificate) to join. I had to get a physical before next drill and the nice thing about doing that, I could see my own doctor. At the next drill my Honor Guard Team started our training with wilderness first-aid and SAR training, along with honor guard training. I also had to go through initial entry training (IET), at the end of which I received the leadership award. After my first year with the MDDF in December 2012, at the holiday ball, I was awarded the Non-Commission Officer (NCO) Soldier of the Year Award. In November 2013, I received Soldier of the Year Award, given by the State Guard Association of the United States (SGAUS). After receiving these prestigious awards, I knew my work wasn't done. I was now on a mission. My mission was that while receiving these awards both in 2012 and in 2013, a lot of the female soldiers were coming up to me saying, "Great job, you're doing it for us"! Little did any of them know I was transgender. The comments were true I thought, but I am saying to myself, I am also doing it for the transgender community, which I couldn't come out and say. During my time with the MDDF I served doing work in morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) as well as honor guard, and later was part of force protection (FP). I subsequently received my military emergency management specialist (MEMS) badge. I was then assigned to work in the Maryland Joint Operations Center (MJOC) at Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). When I had to stay at the barrack for the first time, I worried about the shower area. I came up with a game plan, which worked out well in case I wasn't the only person in the shower. This is one of the main issues I feel that any trans soldier must worry about while serving due to no curtains around each shower head. Over the next three years with the MDDF I have presented the flag at events and parades, while working FP. My team with FP received a commendation one drill for helping with an accident outside our gates in Baltimore. On April 8th, 2016, I had vaginoplasty surgery, otherwise know in the trans community as surgical reassignment surgery (SRS) or genital reassignment surgery (GRS). Shortly after that date, on April 25th, ABC News released the interview they did with me called "A Transgender Soldier's Personal Story". (Tinyurl.com/y3q52lbh) After the interview several of my fellow soldiers came up to me saying that they loved my interview and were in full support. Some of the soldiers were even saying, "You're not only a good soldier, but you're a good friend". During my time with the MDDF I receive two promotions, retiring with the rank of staff sergeant. Serving with the MDDF was awesome due to the men and women I served with – my battle buddies – and who were also my friends. Later in January 2016, I retired from MDDF. In the next article I will talk about the challenges and changes I have faced since my transition. Remember one thing … Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you'll be among the stars! t
Like everyone in our community, my first day back to work after I transitioned full-time is a day I will never forget. For me, the day was October 12th, 2010. Let me take you back four months earlier – to June 2010 – when I attended the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference (now called the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference). While attending this conference I saw five, six, seven-year-old kids enjoying themselves and having fun, only to find out they were transgender kids. I attended the workshops only to hear stories of lives just like mine. The more I heard, the more I was beginning to understand that I was transgender too. I left that conference fired up and like a runaway freight train back to Maryland and to work the next day. I wanted to talk with a friend at work to see what I needed to do to transition full time as a woman at work. That Monday I went looking for my friend, who is also one of our agency's attorneys, who just happened to be traveling and then afterwards on vacation. It was the longest two weeks of my life. When she returned to work, I was so happy to see her and tell her I had something to tell her. I shut her door to tell her I was transgender. She said that she was so honored that I trusted her enough to come to her and she would talk with the firm's director of civil rights and inclusiveness (CRI) without giving my name. The next day my friend told me the reaction and response that was displayed to her, and so I said I would meet and talk with her. While talking with the director I was getting the same positive, welcoming response. She said she wanted to talk with our CEO to advise him the plan. The CEO gave his blessings and told her do whatever it takes to make it happen and that it goes smoothly for me. Later I was advised that I was to keep my transition a secret between director and myself. At that point we set up meetings once a week to go over plans to tell the agency around the country on the same day and time without it leaking out to anyone. I said, "Not a problem. On Facebook I'm under a different name – going by Karen Kendra Harris", and I knew no one from our agency would find me. On October 1st, 2010 after work I went home and threw away all my male clothes except for one shirt, pants, and sneakers. On Monday, October 4th I went into the agency one last time as Tony to tell the head of my department about my transition. We had feared the news might leak out from her. After I told her she said she didn't care, and she still loved me and that I was a good worker and that's all that mattered to her. She gave me a big hug and off I went, returning home and to return to work on October 12th, 2010. I was also told during that time by the director of civil rights not to call anyone at work or look at work emails until I return. At a mandatory meeting with all our state offices and headquarters at the same time I told staff the story about my transition and I would be coming back as Karen. After being told the news about me a lot of the staff jumped on Facebook looking for me. Little did they know all they were going to find out were all the good things I had been doing in and around the community and country. I heard that because of this mandatory meeting, they all thought they were going to be fired. Little did they know it was about me. The only issue that really came up from that hour-long training was the bathroom. My agency had that all taken care of by making the small bathrooms on each floor into single use bathrooms with locks on the doors. During that time off I spent the time getting myself together to return to work. I called up my friend to put a weave in my hair and go to the nail salon to get a pedicure and manicure, getting tips added and painted with a very nice burgundy color. Sunday, October 11th, 2010 – the night before going back to work – I pulled out the outfit I wanted to wear for my first day back. It was a nice pair of slacks and top with about one-and-a-half-inch heels. I didn't want to go back to work throwing a dress right away into their faces. That night I slept like a baby without a care in the world, and I was in total peace for what I was about to do and knowing my life wouldn't be the same starting the next day. Monday, October 12th was "D-Day." I woke up at 5:30 am and was anxious to be at work by 8 am, but the director of civil rights told me to relax and come in around 10 am. I received a phone call from one of my co-workers and she said she would meet me at the McDonald's, a couple doors down from the building, so that we could go together. After we finish eating, another co-worker from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) stopped by McDonald's too and he said he would walk back with us for support. As I entered the building, the guard greeted me at the front desk who welcomed me back to work. Up to the 8th floor I went to my cubicle and to my surprise there were flowers, cards, and a couple of gifts. There were emails on my new email account from co-workers who were welcoming me back to work. First stop after I got settled was to go to the security office to get my new ID badge. As the security employee was about to take my photo he said, "Are you ready to take your photo or would you rather use this photo", which was one of my model pictures taken in the park. This photo was shown at the mandatory meeting and I said, "Oh yeah, this picture!" As the safety officer for my agency I couldn't just hide at my desk all day – I had to walk around to check on things and I said to myself, "I must do my job." I felt like I was in a parade, walking around the agency that day for staff to see me. Along the way, some of the women who had offices would stop me to say, "You look awesome and if you need to hide and be yourself, feel free to use my office". I told them thank you, but I would be okay. The rest of the day was a charm, even going to lunch with a few people. I have to say that I had a couple of co-workers who were friends and were mad at me because, they had no idea and I didn't tell them. I told them that director told me not to tell anyone in fear that it would leak out, so they forgave me. A couple of comments were, "Why didn't I make it easy for them by staying with the name Tony, but with an 'i'?" I told them, "Make it easy for you? I'm the one who must answer now all the time and to start writing and answer emails as Karen". I told them it is harder for me than you, and I told them this is who I've been deep down in my soul all my life. I then told them the story of when I told my mom that my name was going to be Karen. This is something my mother never told me before, that if she had a girl, she was going to name her Karen. At that moment I lost it and knew I was who I was meant to be. Now my friends and co-workers understood why I went with the name Karen. That day I was told it was okay to leave work early due to my big day back to work. As I left I started saying to myself, "Wow! What an awesome day. I did it!" In the next article I will tell you about joining the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF), supporting the Maryland National Guards. MDDF is the defense force for the state of Maryland. So remember, shoot for the moon and even if you miss you'll be among the stars! See you all in the next article and be safe out there!
Hello Everyone, my name is Karen Kendra Holmes and I am so excited to have my column and I welcome you all to "Trans Lives". Within my column I will be talking about various topics that I want to share and yours if you care to share with other readers. I want to shed lots of faith, hope, and love that we give respect and earn the respect that we so deserve. From each article written I want you all to know that I have you each in my heart and you have a close friend in me. I just want you to know "I am the Voice" who cares about you all and I will do whatever I can to express and show my feelings. If you care to send me something for advice, please do and let me know if you want me to use you name or not. Keep one thing in mind, if you send me something to post, it just might help the next reader. I have always said that our journeys and transitions are like DNA – very close to each other, but different. The opening about me by Baltimore OUTloud on my journey was just a start of who I am, where I came from, and where I am going too in the future. In 2015 I was honored in Platform magazine. I was among 31 other women from around the world honored. Before I transitioned full-time on October 1st, 2010, I told all my volunteer groups I had something to tell them. All of them gave me this funny look and said, "What do you have to tell me"? When I told them I was transgender, they all said the same thing, "I thought you were going to tell me you were leaving the organization". That told me that they all valued what I brought to their organization. So, because of my platform to them, I want you my readers to build yourself a platform so that you will hear the same thing one day. Ever since I transitioned, I have been so happy about who I am and who I've become. I live my life the way I want to, not letting anyone take that away from me. We transition to be happy and because of the way society treats us we become unhappy to the point with some of us committing suicide. If you ever feel that way, please reach out to someone. We care, I care, and I am here for you, and you are not alone. The title for this column this time is "My Journey Rolls On". I'm learning things from my past and keeping my eye open to learn new things for my future. Only you can control and change your stars. Take the steps and the chance that will make the difference in your life. When I did my TEDx Asbury Park talk, I wasn't sure I could do it, because I've seen so many good speakers during my five-minute audition. Even though I have done public speaking since 2012, I knew this was the big one. I took a chance to tell my story, and with the help of some fantastic TEDx coaches and a book that they sent me, I made a dream come true. To tell your personal story to hundreds and then thousands of people around the world, you wonder if you can do it. The way I got though it was being open to people helping me to succeed and praying to God. You see everyone is not after you, and there are lots of good people out there who want to help you succeed and they believe in you. With their help and love that I felt from them my journey just keeps rolling on. I want to thank all cisgender family, friends, co-workers, and professional experts who want to help educate people on who we are. Please keep one thing in mind and that is to have us at the table, at meetings, at conferences. We are not what you see on the "Jerry Springer Show"; we are police officers, firefighters, medics, doctors, nurses, lawyers, politicians, teachers, models, actors, and most of all military soldiers, and the list goes on. This is our lives and we live this journey 24/7, and we can tell our own story better than you can. For more about me go to my personal website Kkholmes.com. Please check out my TEDx Asbury Park on YouTube or just YouTube my name Karen Kendra Holmes to see or hear other talks of mine. My next article will be "My First Day Back to Work". See you next time and remember one thing: Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you'll be among the stars!
It all started on the evening of November 2, 2017 while volunteering at the Gender Conference East in New Jersey. At our staff dinner meeting that evening I was sitting next to a gentleman named Jean. While having dinner beside Jean I was telling him of my story as a transwoman. In talking to Jean, he asked me if I have done a TEDx Talk before. He suggested I pursue it at Asbury Park and base my story on their current theme of Passion. He then texted a gentleman by the name of Eric Wiener, whom he knew who worked with TEDx Asbury Park. Later, I was in the talk session given by my surgeon Dr. Rachel Bluebond-Langner. I spoke up to share my surgical experience with the audience and express the gratitude I felt towards the doctor for her wonderful bedside manner and the success of my surgery. Soon after, a man walked up to me and introduced himself saying he was Eric Wiener and asking if I was Karen Holmes. Of course, I said yes. He told me he was sitting behind me in the Dr. Bluebond-Langner session. He went on to say that I showed a lot of passion when talking about my surgeon and that he was with TEDx Asbury Park, NJ. He gave me his business card and recommended I apply to be on the upcoming show on May 19, 2018, which is based on Passion. It took me almost a month to finally send my application in because I was nervous with thoughts of "Wow, TEDX, this is big and I wonder if I can do it!" On January 29, 2018, I received an email telling me that TEDx Asbury Park wanted me to either come in to do a Live Audition or send them a Video Audition. After careful thought, I decided that doing a Live Audition would be the best thing for me. So, I started working on my speech and rehearsing. It was quite difficult because I only had a five-minute audition. So, for the next couple of weeks I worked diligently on my five-minute speech. It was so hard to fit 47 ½ years into my speech. My talk would be "40 Years and Wandering No More". OMG, I jumped for joy knowing if I do well, this was going to be a Life Changing Event! Well the day came and on January 19th I drove to Asbury Park, NJ to the Paramount Theater. When I was 30 miles away from the theater, my heart became very heavy. Later that evening I got on the stage to give my "well-prepared speech" but for some reason, I changed most of it on the spot. I was one of 18 people that auditioned live that night and when I gave my talk, I felt like I "knocked it out of the park". The other 17 people were really good so I said to myself, "Wow, I hope I get a crack at the Live Show on May 19th". A few weeks later I had a total knee replacement and while recovering at home, I received an email from TEDx Asbury Park that read, "Congratulation we want you to be on the Live Show on May 19, 2018 for which the theme is Passion". OMG, my heart was racing a million miles and I couldn't believe I had made it to the Live Show. Now it was time to go to work! I needed to come up with a bigger talk which would be different and have much more content than the live audition I was allotted 5 minutes for. They sent me a book to read and I was assigned a coach a few weeks later. I finished my book quickly realizing I already knew a lot of the things, but it really helped me when I saw it in print. A week later, I got my first coach; his name was Don. He loved my speech and I rehearsed over Skype with him getting better and better each time. Next, I rehearsed over Skype in front of 8 coaches. I felt I did a good job and they had only a couple of suggestions for my speech. Two weeks before I was to go live on stage, I got a new coach named Joel. That night when rehearsing on Skype with Joel, he suggested I change my talk to speak about the boy named Tony (my birthname) first and then switch and speak about Karen, who I am now, later in the speech. I told him I would give it a shot and that I trusted him as my coach. When I got off the phone my heart dropped; since I have given my speech one way for the past couple of years, I wondered if I could pull off the sudden switch. The next day Joel and I met on Skype again to rehearse and he told me that he was blow away with how well I changed my talk using his suggestions in just one day. He said no one that he has ever coached has been able to make changes so quickly before. After a couple of more rehearsals, Joel said he had me 95% ready and he wanted me to now work with MK who would make me 110% ready. I'm like, "Wow, this is so draining!", but I was ready and excited to carry on. A couple of days later I rehearsed on Skype with MK and said she loved it! She had a couple of suggestions about making Tony a little more personal. I knew speaking in a 3rd person about Tony was going to be hard for me. Soon after, MK and I met on Skype again and she told me that I did it and it was awesome! Later that week, I took off work and headed to the hotel in Asbury Park, NJ that was set up for me by Marcia. She had arranged a large oceanfront room for me. I rested after the drive because the next day was going to be dress rehearsal. Early the next morning, I went to the Paramount Theater to find out my dress rehearsal wasn't until 3:00 p.m., so I stuck around to listen to a couple of the other speakers. Later, I went back to the hotel to rest and to rehearse my talk a couple more times. Before heading back over I said a prayer asking God for His help with His spirit giving me the words for my talk, much like I have done when giving speeches in the past. Now it was time to go on stage to do my dress rehearsal talk and once again, I knocked it out of the park! My first coach, Don, came back stage in tears; I asked him not to cry because I would start crying too. I just wanted to be able to repeat my talk with the same passion for the Live Show. Afterwards, I went to dinner and then back to the hotel to go to bed. I was up early and out the next day knowing there was a breakfast for the speakers. As I headed over to the breakfast, I was greeted by one of my church members, Melissa, who came to surprise me. After we hugged, I told her she was going to make me cry; she drove all night just to be with me. After talking to Melissa, I went to the speaker's lounge to eat something, take photos, and relax. An hour later, my mom, brother, and a close friend showed up. I checked them in so they could get passes for the show and get T-shirts, etc. The show started 30 minutes later and together we watched some of the speakers who went before me. I wasn't to go on until the 3rd group, which was after lunch. Later we all had lunch together, including Melissa, at a table that they had reserved for me and my guests. During lunch we took some photos of all of us together. After lunch we were able to watch a couple of more speakers before I had to go to get my makeup done and get my mic on so I was ready to give my talk. Well the time finally came and it was my turn to do my talk so I walked out to the red dot. I wasn't nervous at all, I was now just happy to get out there and get this over with. I spoke with so much confidence, I received several claps and laughs during my talk, and they happened just at the right time when I needed them the most. My speech was to be between 8 and 10 minutes; they wanted closer to 8 but I took 9 minutes and 55 seconds. As I walked off the stage, there were tear and claps with people standing. Yes, it was all over and I gave a sigh of relief and a long exhale as I went back stage. Later that night I went to dinner to celebrate and then back to the hotel to go to bed around 10:00 p.m. I was so exhausted after weeks of rehearsals preparing for this talk. The next day TEDx Asbury Park had a breakfast brunch for the speakers and their guests. Breakfast was awesome and more photos with my newly found family, whom I will miss. In closing, I am a TEDx Asbury Park Alumni. The theme for next year is talking on "Chaos" and I will be looking for the next TEDx Asbury Park Speaker to recommend. As I leave you now I will say as I always do… "Remember one thing… shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll be among the STARS!!!"

Red Cross Blog

Soldier of the Year

By Kelly Norton, Volunteer Contributor

Who: Karen Holmes

What: The State Guard Association of the United States (SGUAS) recently named Karen Holmes, a volunteer member of the Maryland State Defense Force and volunteer for the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region, as "Soldier of the Year." This impressive honor is given to a SGUAS member who has performed commendable service.

When: The award ceremony was held as part of the Defense Support of Civilian Authorities (DSCA) National Symposium & Expo on October 19th.

Where: Charleston, South Carolina

Why: Karen has been a volunteer member of the Maryland Defense Force since 2011, working in support of the Maryland National Guards within the Chaplain's Unit as well as with the Honor Guards and Morale Welfare and Recreation Department.

The Maryland Defense Force is a volunteer uniformed state military agency and one of the 24 State Defense Forces authorized by Congress and the state legislatures. It's primary mission is to provide professional, technical, and military support to the Maryland Army National Guard, the Maryland Air National Guard, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. Karen was also recently named as "Soldier of the Year" by the Maryland State Guard Association and the Maryland Defense Force in December 2012 and has been selected to go to the DSCA Symposium to represent the state of Maryland.

The award was nevertheless a complete surprise to Karen, who did not learn about it until the Symposium's black tie event. She was surprised and honored. "When you're going up against 23,000 other soldiers from 21 State Defense Force Units in the country, I really was just like 'Wow'... it took a few weeks to sink in," said Karen.

In addition to her work with the Maryland Defense Force, Karen has been a volunteer with the American Red cross in the National Capital Region since 2008 where she serves as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) lead and assists with mass care for Montgomery County. For several years, Karen has also volunteered with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Prince George's County, Maryland.

During this holiday season of giving, it's so wonderful to hear about people like Karen who give wholeheartedly back to their community. Thank you, Karen, for your outstanding service and congratulations on your well-deserved award!

Red Cross Blog Written by: Rosalind SE Carney, volunteer Karen Holmes works for the Federal Government as a Safety Officer and is a Cadre Member with the Disaster Team. Karen works in an agency that oversees organizations such as AmeriCorps, working to ensure safe and healthy environments by providing CPR and first aid training and certification. Her role requires her to be in DC so she is unable to deploy on missions associated with her job. However, she knew that her experiences would benefit the Red Cross, so Karen joined as a volunteer in 2008. On her own initiative, Karen pursued several training opportunities within the Red Cross to diversify the types of assistance she can provide locally and nationally. She is a certified Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver, shelter trailer driver and shelter manager, instructor for CPR/first aid and a Disaster Action Team (DAT) responder. On 23rd September 2017, Karen used two weeks of her vacation time to deploy to Dickinson County, TX, to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Each day, Karen and fellow volunteers loaded up an ERV with meals prepared by the Southern Baptist mobile kitchens. Karen drove the ERV and helped serve meals to those in need. Interacting with people is Karen's favorite Red Cross activity. She describes how people impacted by Hurricane Harvey initially had a look of devastation on their faces that turned to a beacon of hope at the sight of the ERV. Karen saw a community that was just starting to rebuild. The devastation was evident–furniture and clothing on the streets, children running out into the streets to obtain meals and people who had not eaten in a day or two because they had missed the prior visit(s). Many people did not have electricity or a working stove, and some were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, not wanting to leave their homes to go to a shelter. Whatever the individual circumstance, the residents were so thankful that the Red Cross was there. In four days, Karen and her fellow volunteers served 1,078 meals in one area and delivered 300 meals to a church another time. Karen enjoyed giving people the very special touch for which the Red Cross is known. Karen is grateful that her employers are so supportive, telling her that they are happy she deploys as they know how much this volunteer role with the Red Cross means to her.
Karen Holmes served for five years as a model soldier with a little known military agency called the Maryland Defense Force. (Photo by Elizabeth Anne Taylor) Since transitioning as a transgender woman in 2016, Silver Spring, Md., resident Karen Holmes served for five years as a model soldier with a little known military agency called the Maryland Defense Force. As a staff sergeant, Holmes took part in the Maryland Defense Force's stated mission of "providing competent and supplemental professional, technical, and military support to the Maryland Army National Guard, the Maryland Air National Guard, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency." Similar to members of the National Guard, Holmes and her fellow soldiers with the Maryland Defense Force carried out their duties mostly on weekends while holding a full-time civilian job. But unlike the National Guard, members of the Maryland Defense Force, which is known as the MDDF, serve as volunteers and receive no monetary compensation unless the state governor, who serves as commander, activates their units at times of a state or national emergency. Holmes has worked full-time during the past 16 years as a safety officer for a federal government agency in Washington. She was honorably discharged from the MDDF in December 2016. She told the Washington Blade in an interview on Tuesday that she hopes her record as a decorated soldier with the MDDF while out as transgender to many of her fellow soldiers and commanding officers would serve as a strong refutation to the Trump administration's pending plan to ban transgender people from serving in the military. In December of 2012, just one year after enlisting in the MDDF, Holmes was named Non-Commissioned Officer Soldier of the Year by the MDDF and the Maryland State Guard Association. In October 2013 she was named Soldier of the Year by the State Guard Association of the United States for an honor in which 23,000 soldiers in 24 states competed. "They knew I was transgender," Holmes said. "They talked to the National Guard people because we felt kind of a little different. They were OK with me being in the Maryland Defense Force." With all that as a backdrop, Holmes said she was "shocked" when she heard on the news last month that President Trump announced in a posting on Twitter that he had directed the U.S. military to reinstate the ban on transgender people from serving in the military. "I was really shocked and hurt because of the fact that we're doing great things out there," she said. "When I was with the Maryland Defense Force we were supplementing what the National Guard did. I did everything from parades for the Color Guard Detail. I was a chaplain's assistant." And, according to Holmes, other trans soldiers were involved with operations such as engineering and medical duties. Like other advocates for allowing transgender people to serve in the military, Holmes said it's widely known that transgender people currently serving in main branches of the U.S. military are performing well. "And the big thing the president was talking about was the cost as far as medical services," she said. "That's been a big issue," she noted, adding that she feels it's unfair to equate medical costs such as surgery with the desire of trans people to serve in the military. "To me I think it's pretty rough to say we're going to join just to get the surgery," Holmes said. "That's not why they join. They join because they want to serve the country and they believe in peoples' rights." Although Holmes said her co-workers and supervisors at the federal agency where she works were "great" when she transitioned in 2010, she remains reluctant to disclose the name of the agency, in part, because she doesn't want to be portrayed as officially representing the agency on transgender related matters. "And I just don't want to say much about it because who knows what Trump is going to do," she said. The president has said he has no plans to rescind President Obama's executive order banning discrimination in the federal civilian workforce based on gender identity and expression or to repeal previously adopted government policies banning sexual orientation discrimination against federal employees. But some LGBT rights advocates say they fear Trump might change his mind on those protections just as he did in seeking to rescind the Obama protections for transgender people the military.
Karen Kendra Holmes, a speaker at the Rally for Trans Students event and a safety officer for the federal government, should be on BlackPeopleMeet's Mount Rushmore of users. She received messages from 150 potential suitors but didn't go on a date. I was both stumped and amazed by this, since I recently left eHarmony because of my dusty mailbox. However, that was just my cisgender privilege popping up again. "I kind of did it basically as validation to myself to see if any guys would come on to me," Holmes said. Holmes weaned the 150 men down to 85 and then disclosed that she is transgender. "Out of the 85, 70 of them said they still wanted to go out." But Holmes didn't take the relationship further. "I kind of chickened out." I asked if this has to do with the frequent violence against transwomen. "That is definitely the key to it as well. But my whole big thing, my philosophy is totally different from a lot of the [trans]girls out there. Some girls figure ... before we get intimate, they'll find out for themselves. No, no, no, you don't want to do that," Holmes expressed. Disclosure is a delicate issue in the transgender community, and the moments after disclosure can be potentially dangerous. "My philosophy is if we're going to go on a date, I'd rather tell the person before because I don't want them to spend anywhere from 75 to 100 bucks for dinner and say so, oh by the way, and then he gets really pissed off and mad," Holmes explained. She's also used Plenty of Fish, but didn't receive much luck. Holmes identifies as a lesbian, and she was looking for a romantic relationship. "A couple of the girls who I thought might work out, when we went out, they just kind of wanted a [platonic] girlfriend. Great. You kind of like wasted my time basically." Holmes began fully living as a woman in 2010, and over the years, she's learned how to navigate romance while valuing herself. For the first three years of living as a woman, she put herself "on hold" to take care of herself emotionally and physically. Her dating advice for transgender women is rooted in authenticity. "Let that person know, if you can't [date a transgender woman], I totally understand. I'm not going to hold that against you. But I don't want you to think I'm a trial base for your sexuality or something like that. I feel too much empowered," Holmes said. By Imade Borha - Reporter with The Frederick News-Post
WOW after having a real bad day yesterday, I open my text message to see the Black Trans Advocacy Awards Official Nominee 2017. The award will be give at the Black Trans Advocacy Conference on Friday April 28, 2017 in Dallas, TX. Not sure yet which category award I was nominated for yet. Wish me luck !!! Congratulations on your award nomination. You have been nominated to receive a Black Trans Advocacy Award in recognition of your contribution to advancing black transgender equality! Final award selections will be announced at the 6th Annual Black Trans Advocacy Awards Gala, held in Dallas, Texas Friday, April 28, 2017 7PM at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria Hotel, Vista Ballroom.
Transgender people can accomplish great and admirable things as out and proud individuals. They should be role models not only for queer youth, but for anyone. Despite great personal hardship, many transgender people have done great things with their professional careers. Karen Kendra Holmes has worked for the Corporation for National & Community Service for 15 years as the agency's Safety Officer for the past six years. She serves as a Staff Sergeant with the Maryland Defense Force as a Chaplain's Assistant and Honor Guard. In 2012, Holmes was awarded NCO Soldier of the Year by the Maryland Defense Force. She was also named Soldier of the Year by the State Guard Association of the United States in 2013. In 2015, Holmes was honored in The Platform Magazine as one of 41 women around the world who inspire and make a difference in their community.

Well David under the circumstance right now I think it's better Kate and me just distance ourselves for awhile because whenever I talk with her it only made me feel worse. I know she is having a hard time trying to understand what my son is going through and she is not interested in reading up on children born this way therefore she can't be supportive of me excepting things the way I have. To her it is a choice, but for me it is not a choice whether I accept this or not. He is my son and I Love him unconditionally and always will and I will stand by him until I die.

At this time in my life I can't take anyone upsetting me especially if they can't have an open mind and be willing to check things out before being so judgmental. Hopefully one day she might be able to come to gripes with this and at less try to understand how I feel and realize what pain and suffering my son has been going through all his life. He has as much right as we have to live his life the way he wants to and be happy instead of living his life the way other people feel he should just so they can feel comfortable. Their lack of understanding is due to their lack of information which is available concerning transgender children. I've learned a lot in the past 4 weeks. Going to the support group and talking to the pastor has really helped me to better understand and adjust to the way things are. Like they said it's not about me, it's about him and his happiness and it's not his problem it's our problem because we make it about us and what w feel and want. That's why I thank God for helping me see beyond the outside appearance and to look into the heart and soul of the individual. For no matter what, inside he is the same person that I loved before. It's like if you took a love story book and changed the cover to something totally different. Once you open the book it would still be a love store, only the cover was changed.

What we all look for in life is not approval, but love and I've loved Kate all these years, not because of, but in spite of.

I'm watching my son drifting away right before my eyes and turning into Karen "a beautiful woman". It's like watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly.

I recall as early as 13 years of age when I started dressing in clothes designed for women. I wasn't sure why or when I decided to do that, but I felt right within myself to wear women's clothing and I was more comfortable with myself when I did. For years I purchased women's clothes, shoes, and wigs to dress in. I kept the clothes for a year or so and then packed them up to throw them away, only to return to dressing as a woman a few months later. I felt awesome and at peace when I dressed in women's clothes.

I never talked about my feelings to anyone, not even my parents. Later my parents felt something may be wrong and sent me to see a psychiatrist who later said I had a chemical imbalance and put me on Lithium. After months of using this drug, I realized this was crap. I was able to get off that drug by faking everything was OK. But deep down inside I knew everything wasn't OK. I was afraid to talk to my parents about what was going on with my dressing because I didn't understand it myself and couldn't find the words to explain it. I was confused when I was a young boy and my confusion continued as I grew into a young man.

In my 20's I got married and my wife was OK with my dressing, but 6 months later she realized that it wasn't OK and divorced me. That was my first marriage. My second marriage lasted 18 years, and during that time I suppressed Karen and hid her from my wife and her kids. Between marriages I thought I would remove Karen from my life for good by throwing away her clothes yet again, but this time it was over a cliff. About 5 months later, Karen was back in my life. I couldn't shake Karen loose, it was a consistent battle and she would return with force each time I tried to remove her from my life. So I embraced the fact that I was a crossdresser, but my soul was still in turmoil. But at the age of 53 I made the decision to do what I needed to do to live for me. So on 10/1/2010 I transition Full Time to live as a woman. On 4/8/2016 I had my SRS.

When I transition 10 years ago, I knew I might lose a couple of friends, but never the ones that were so close and family members to me in my life. This article will be among the ones that will be the hardest ones to write about, because I have lost a couple of wonderful family members and friends. The hardest thing is to have friendship that went to family, but then later lose them in your life. To them and I somewhat understand they have told me it was like I had died, and they lost a good friend. The one thing I tell them all you did not lose me who died, you still have me, just the better part of me who wanted to live. The hardest thing for me and other Transgender people is to be ourselves and to live the life we were meant to be and to be happy. But because the way society treats us, we lose our spouse or partner, family, home, friends, and job and commit suicide. To start things off after my mom told my family, all my aunts were ok with my transition, but a couple of uncles on my mom side of the family did not go so well. Now one out of the three is ok with me and another still has not and does not even look at me as part of the family. I was having a hard time with it when we were close before, but now I do not care anymore. The hardest issue I have with a family member treating me this way is that I have not brought any shame to the family in anyway. Then there are my friends whom I worked with, played softball with, and volunteered with. One of my friends who was like a brother to me whom I worked with and being around his family for years are not that close now. When I told him over the phone, I was Transgender and I was going to transition he said, “I’ll be right over”, and hung up. When he got there and I open the door the first thing out of his mouth was, “Are You “F”ing Crazy”. I will never forget those words from him. I tried to explain how and why I was going to transition. He was honest with me that he did not think things would be same between us anymore. It did change right away, and it hurt. Then there was another friend whom I played softball with from church. I played Short Stop and he was my 2nd Baseman, and we were awesome together up the middle. Not much got passed us and turning double plays were out of site. We were two peas in a pot sticking together on the field and in church. He has not returned my phone call yet in the 10 years after my transition. Finally, was a dear friend who I volunteered with the Park Police Volunteer Association (PPVA). Every two weeks on my Friday off we would meet up for lunch and just go over ideas for PPVA and where we wanted it to go. He would email me after my transition every so often to see how I was doing and the struggles he was going through losing a good friend in Tony and getting use to my transition. In his emails he would apologize that he felt he was not much of a supportive friend, but I told him that keeping in touch, and I understood. Finally, 4 ½ years later I was going to Dallas, TX to speak and I was looking for donations to go. We finally met up for lunch and it was great and later he told me how easy I made him feel meeting for the first time since my transition. I did not ask him, but he wanted to donate money for my trip. Things got so much better between us that he was even willing to take me for my Surgical Reconstruction Surgery (SRS) back on April 8, 2016, and yes, my five-year anniversary is coming up. Now every so often get together for Chinese food and watch a movie. Earlier I said since my transition, has never brought shame to my family and friends. I have done a TEDx Talk which is now on the main TED website. I speak around the country as a leader and advocate for the Transgender community. Provide Transgender training to the police and fire departments and the military. Meeting with politicians and speak with them on Transgender issues. Most of all doing TV, radio, podcast interviews and most of hosting a radio show and writing these articles. Keep one thing in mind as I close is when we transition our family and friends transition too. They have this sense of lost in their lives. But for you, understand this and that when we transition, we are doing it so we can live. You can find my TEDx or TED Talk “40 Years and Wandering No More”, when you Google my name. If you need to talk about anything, please email me at kkholmes@kkholmes.com or visit my personal website at https://www.KKHolmes.com Until next time Shoot for the Moon and Even if You Miss, You’ll Be Among the STARS!
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