Our Empowerment Programs Manager, Tres Brown, took some time out of their busy schedule to shed some light on our GenderBrave program and how it is to identify as non-binary in 2023.
Why are programs like GenderBrave so important for the community?
Programs like ours provide a space for people to be able to see themselves thrive. In the world that we’re in, our very existence is politicized. So many rights are being taken away from us, and people are just trying to live and exist. There’s already enough struggle in being marginalized. When it’s coming from you at all sides, it’s hard to feel like it’s okay to be you sometimes. We aim to create a space where people feel like they’re worthy of more than just existing, where they can see themselves as worthy of love, care, and attention. Worthy of all the rights anyone is afforded. We encourage people to seek that out and help them learn how to advocate for themselves. If we don’t do it, no one else will for us. When we think about fighting for our rights, so much comes to mind. Will I have a doctor that will treat me without bias? Am I going to be okay getting food? Is my job creating protections for me? Some of the things that we fight for are just the right to have fun and enjoy ourselves. Growing up Black, being able to gather around a table for a meal was so important. It allowed us to reset and check in with each other and allowed us to slow down. In those moments are where I learned some of life’s greatest lessons. As people, we’re always hustling, but when you come together with your people, you can recharge. That’s what we aim to do here at GenderBrave. To create an escape from the outside world and recalibrate yourself. It’s also a space to pour into others or be poured into.
How has coming into your own gender identity impacted your life?
I came out as non-binary later in life. I was just turning 31 at the time. It could be an age thing, but I discovered it because of the programs. It’s interesting because I didn’t have a lot of examples of what I was to be Black and gender expansive other than being a trans woman, and I knew I wasn’t a woman. It wasn’t until playing Dungeons and Dragons with our Fuse program that it hit me. When playing the game, one of the participants asked me the pronouns of the character I had created. At first, I assumed everyone was making male characters because Fuse is a program for gay and bi guys. I decided that my character would have neutral pronouns, which felt natural to me. That’s when I really got into the game because the character felt like me. My character was like if Lord of the Rings combined with Megan Thee Stallion. Being able to completely accept myself and toss out any ideas of what I was supposed to be forced me to check in with myself. Now as I walk through everyday life. I have much more conviction to deal with what I want and not bother with what I don’t. I’m now able to see through the veil of what people are trying to sell me on or convince me of. Coming out gave me that sense of grounding and foundation in my life.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Find your people. Find your tribe. Find people who love and accept you for no reason other than you being you. For some, that is the family you’re born into, which is wonderful and beautiful. I’m hoping we’re moving the world more toward that. But for a lot of us, that’s not the case. I think I had a false sense of security. I started college at 17 as a music major, which is a very queer space to be in. When the boys came in, it was easier to guess who was gay instead of who wasn’t. At least, that’s how it was in the voice department and choir. It was really nice to be able to have that for the first time. While I made long-lasting friends from that, I still feel like things would’ve turned out differently had I moved away from my small town earlier on and explored who I was. My journey would be much different, but I’m still interested to see who that person would become. I’ve found that whenever I’m with my people, I can accomplish anything in the world. I can soar above the cloud. The reason I got into this work is because I didn’t have this, so I made sure I could help create a space so that people like me could. If I could go back in time, I would take little Tres to Dallas, Atlanta, or D.C., where I could find more like-minded people.
GenderBrave enables transgender and gender-diverse young adults ages 18-35 to socialize and support each other in a safe space. Members raise awareness of HIV in the North Texas community and connect participants with appropriate and needed resources for their health and well-being. Activities include advocacy, community building, discussion and support groups, HIV prevention and support, outreach opportunities, social events, and workshops and forums.
Location: 5750 Cedar Springs Rd, Dallas, TX 75235
Contact Us: Call 214-540-4415 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org