Growing up transgender in the 1970s for Tracee McDaniel was hard.
McDaniel, who lives as a woman, describes growing up in South Carolina as a boy who liked to wear his mother’s clothes and pretend to be a girl.
“I knew I wasn’t gay and I didn’t identify as homosexual. I was biologically born male, but I didn’t identify as a male,” says McDaniel. “There was a point in my life where the challenges became stressful because I identified as female.”
After working in entertainment for 20 years and appearing as a featured back-up singer for the legendary Diana Ross in her music video, “I Will Survive,” and the television miniseries, The Jacksons: An American Dream, McDaniel established Juxtaposed Center for Transformation Inc in 2006, with a mission to provide basic, necessary, and fundamental services to the transgender community.
These days, McDaniel is the founding executive committee member for Trans Housing Atlanta Program and a Transgender Health Education Alliance Board of Director. McDaniel is also the author of Transitions.
“My desire to become more active in the Trans community was after witnessing and hearing stories about Trans people not being allowed in homeless shelters,” says McDaniel who began immersing herself in advocating for her community in 2003. “I wanted to add my voice to a community that has been discriminated against for a long time. I want to make sure that our community receives equality.”
McDaniel’s activism likely came as a result of her challenging life as a young adult coming into her own. Over a period of time running away became a routine for her as a way to deal with her family. “I didn’t fit in my family. I felt misplaced. At seven years old I knew there was something different about me. I didn’t fit the social norm.”
McDaniel admits to taking hormone shots to help with her transition, and says she’s avoided surgery because she’s happy with who she is.
Being transgender is as normal as being alive says McDaniel, who also talked about her personal experience living in Atlanta, and “passing”, a term that means that they are “read” as a cisgender man or woman, and some don’t.
“I’ve never had an issue walking out in public and someone calling me names,” says McDaniel. “I can say that I’m so blessed that no one has ever stopped to look at me.”