65, Birmingham, AL, 2013

Jess T. Dugan
American, born 1986
Tasha, 65, Birmingham, AL, 2013
Pigment print
Promised gift L2019.158.2
I was born in Childersburg, Alabama. When I was growing up, I knew that something about me was different. I knew that I liked the guys. I pretty much today live as a gay man that lives just like a woman, because I see from Day One, from that day to this day, I’ve always felt like a woman born in a man’s body. And that’s the way I live. I live as a woman today. I didn’t get to the place of where I’m so all right with this until later in life—at a young age I would’ve had a sex change. But today, I’m so all right with me it doesn’t even cross my mind.

I have never been a case of being in the closet. I’ve always been wide open. And back in that time of the civil rights movement, I still didn’t have any problem. I was still wide open. I participated in the marches and stuff. I was arrested, wet up with the hoses, all that stuff.

Whether you say, “Yes, ma’am,” or “Yes, sir,” I’m all right. I don’t let nothing like that bother me. At times it was kinda rough growing up when you had to hear guys call you all kinda names, such as freaking fag and all this kinda stuff. It used to hurt me and make me angry. But as I got into the church and started letting the verse of John 3:16 register in me, a whole lot of stuff changed.

It said, “For God so loved the world that whosoever will, let them come.” And after that, I felt like I was one of the “whosoevers.” And knowing that I was gay and knowing what people were saying, I stopped getting mad. I stopped fighting and just be who I am—and just be me. Now, I am real respected in my neighborhood as Tasha because a lot of people don’t even know my real name. I’m Tasha to everybody. And most of the children say, “Miss Tasha.” But when I come upon situations where children are curious and ask, “Are you a man or a lady?” I don’t lie to them. I just tell them I’m a man that lives as a woman. And then I have no problems with them. If you don’t say anything to me, I’m not going to say anything to you, although I have some eyes that can talk to you where I won’t have to say anything. But, all in all, I feel that I done had a good life. I’m just happy with me today, real happy.