Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

San Diego is helping rewrite the way stories about transgender people are told, through an exhibit of more than 30 portraits of people in the local transgender community.

BY Advocate.com Editors

August 05 2013 6:00 AM ET

Tracie/Cassandra
Since surviving the mean streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District in the 1970s as a young transgender street kid, Tracie Jada O’Brien (left) has become one of the most respected and elegant role models of our community — a testament to beauty, survival and perseverance. O’Brien is a certified addictions treatment counselor and spent six years as a counselor and coordinator of extend services at Stepping Stone of San Diego, a nationally renowned alcohol and drug treatment facility specifically serving the GLBT community.

O’Brien is active with the San Francisco Transgender Law Center, the California Transgender Leadership Summit, The California Office of AIDS, Transgender HIV Equality, and Party Conferences, and the Center of Excellence for Transgender HIV Prevention. She was also the coordinator of the Family Health Center’s Project S.T.A.R., which provides services for the transgender community. It was through this program that the idea of an annual day to acknowledge the Transgender community was brought to fruition, she is now a HOPWA Housing Manager with Stepping Stone of San Diego.

Tracie Jada O’Brien, age 61 (left)
Assigned Sex: male
Gender Identity: woman
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Cassandra-Marie Stahl was born on November 3rd, 1966 on the beautiful island of Barbados. She knew at an early age that the way she felt inside didn’t match the physical body on the outside. She endured taunts from her family and bullying throughout her school years, but it only made her more determined to be the person she envisioned.

When she was of age, she used every penny she had saved and fled to find a place of solace where she could become herself and live her life. Eventually she settled in San Diego. For many years she withdrew from any contact with her family, for they still had a long way to go in their acceptance of her. When the time was right, she reached out to her family to reestablish contact and gain a sense of peace with them. Today, she has a great relationship with her mom and several of her cousins.

Extended family supports us and sometimes fills a part of our life we missed or were never granted. In this city, she has found her extended family in three outstanding Nubian goddesses, who she is proud to call sisters: Tracie Jada O’Brien, Jelecia King, and Jackie Davis.

She is a proud member of the LGBT community of San Diego, having served as a former Empress of the Imperial Court. She believes that we are all in the struggle together — no stone left unturned and no one left behind. Transgender women were at the beginning of this struggle for equal rights for the LGBT community and these women will continue to fight. As long as she has her health and her strength, her voice will be heard.

Cassandra-Marie Stahl (right)
Gender Identity: transgender woman
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Tags: Transgender

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