Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Toni-Michelle Williams

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Toni-Michelle Williams is a 26-year-old heterosexual black woman of trans experience from Atlanta, Georgia where she was born. She’s attracted to black men, and she also identifies as a magical black unicorn. She’s the only child of her mother, and she has 4 step-siblings through her father who was murdered when she was 10. Williams’ mother also used to whoop, beat, and strangle her as a child. Her relationship with her mother was a struggle but it improved dramatically after she went through weight loss surgery that helped her understand her child’s need to change her body as she also did. In school at DeKalb School of the Arts, Williams was pretty effeminate, hung out with girls, often got in trouble for talking and cursing all the time, and struggled with a deep sense of shame surrounding her gender. She also struggled relating to gay men and men in general, preferring instead the company of women. She came out in high school and transitioned in Norfolk, Virginia while in college at Norfolk State University. In college she worked for an AIDS service organization for trans women, ACCESS AIDS Health Care, where she ran a support group called T Girls Empowerment. She also studied for seven months in Czech Republic, and she was president of Leading the Education of Gay and Straight Individuals. As a result, she was invited to the White House for Obama’s Emerging Leaders Initiative with the National Black Justice Coalition. She moved back home in 2015 to live with her mother but it wasn’t the right place for her since she felt trapped and drained there. She’s currently a community organizer and internship coordinator with Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative in Atlanta, a black trans-led abolitionist organization that wages campaigns to fight the criminal justice system. She’s been on hormone therapy for about three years now, and she aspires to proceed with gender-affirming surgeries. She attended the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle Fellowship dedicated to the self-care of black trans women. She dreams of having a house on the east side of Atlanta with two acres of land or more.

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