The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) works across the South to promote full LGBTQ equality – both legal and lived. In 2016, CSE’s Southern Equality Fund launched the Trans Leadership Initiative (TLI), which provides leadership coaching, funding, and technical assistance to grow LGBTQ leadership and help strengthen their vital work in local communities.
Britney Nesbit, 2016-2017 Tzedek Fellow at CSE, sat down with Fletcher Page, a member of CSE’s Trans Leadership Initiative, the Assistant Director of Gender Benders (GBs), and a consultant for CSE to learn about his leadership style and efforts towards lived equality.
BN: How do you show up in your various leadership roles?
FP: I think that one of my gifts as a leader is that I am able to connect with just about anyone on a really personal level. It’s one of the things I am most proud of, the way that I am able to empathize. I think it makes me very vulnerable as a leader and it allows folks to trust me a lot quicker than they may trust other folks in a position of power. I place a lot of value in humor, being genuine and being down to earth. I think it’s very important to keep it real and come at people with a big open heart. I try to do that always and just be really honest in who I am and what I am about. I love strong, hard, fierce and deep.
Could you share a little bit about your gender identity journey from childhood to now?
Since I was a kid, I had an intense desire for intimacy and connection with people because I did not have it at home. There was an immense amount of neglect and emotional abuse. I never had time to think about gender identity as a child because I was so worried about taking care of my younger sister and surviving. I had to make sure my little sister and I ate and that the lights didn’t get cut off. I was so consumed with taking care of my sister, Hannah, that I wasn’t [thinking about] my gender identity when I was younger.
I came out as trans when I was 17, right after I moved out of my parents’ house. At that point, I came out as gender fluid. At that same time, I felt an intense sense of loss because I didn’t know who I was. There was a very deep incongruence that I was all of a sudden aware of. Then, one day, I was able to realize what that thing was, it was like a key and lock. I felt myself come rushing back.
Tell me about your GoFundMe campaign.
I cannot continue to do this work if my body isn’t aligned with who I know I am. My binder causes me a lot of pain and discomfort, but I am finally to a point where I am being read as male in the world so I can’t NOT wear it. I am so desperate to not feel this big heart of mine being squeezed under this tight binder so I am raising money for top surgery and sculpting procedures to masculinize my body more.
I have always given so selflessly, not with the intention of getting anything in return, but now I am the one who needs help. I don’t have insurance, I don’t have any monetary support in any way. My family was dirt poor. I came from nothing, I have nothing.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Genuine, strong and gentle.
Britney continues her work with the Campaign for Southern Equality in their Greenville, South Carolina office working as the Program Coordinator for the Southern Equality Fund. You can read her full interview, Trans Leadership Initiative: Interview with Fletcher Page on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s website.