Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Lawrence Tanner Richardson

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Lawrence Tanner Richardson identifies as a queer black trans man who was assigned female at birth. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and had a difficult childhood. He’s the oldest with two sisters. His mother, who struggled with mental illness, was disappointed Richardson wasn’t a boy when he was born. As a result, Richardson believed he was a boy until his mom told him he wasn’t. Because Richardson looked like his father who was abusive, his mom had a difficult time with it and threw Richardson out when he was 9. He lived with his grandmother until 17 where he was able to overcome some of the abuse that he endured and found an identity of value and worth instead of an identity of burden. He was able to live as a boy with his grandmother, running around shirtless in the summer in shorts, playing with other neighborhood boys, climbing trees until puberty hit. At 10 he began to menstruate and was told by his grandmother that he was a woman now. He worked hard to be a woman by taking modeling and etiquette classes, encouraged by his grandmother who enjoyed Richardson’s femininity. He grew up in a religious Southern Baptist household and rose to positions of leadership quickly within the church, traveling and speaking to others. He realized he was attracted to both women and men in high school and was kicked out by his grandmother when she discovered him holding hands with and androgynous person. Having to rebuild his life from nothing without family, he put himself through college without much support, leading to loneliness, depression, and a suicide attempt at 20, overdosing on pills. After surviving the attempt, a voice emanating from within him told him that he was loved. He went into deep prayer for a while and came up with a 7-year plan for himself to recover. He started studying psychology, relationships, communication, spirituality, religion, Theology, philosophy, etc. to reach and understand love and God. He finished undergrad and began creating his own life, graduating with a couple of masters. At 28 in 2009 after his mother passed away and after he married a woman, his friend told him about trans identity, and, finally, he had a word that described himself. Knowing Richardson wanted to medically and socially transition, his partner realized she wanted something different and left the relationship. Richardson, left again to rebuild his life, moved in with his friend who told him about trans identity. Since then he had top surgery, a hysterectomy, an oophorectomy, hormone replacement therapy, metoidioplasty, and has gone through the first stages of phalloplasty. He is a United Church of Christ pastor at Linden Hills UCC and a digital media strategist, creating a position for himself called digital evangelism. As a black trans man, he’s terrified of the police, living with the reality that they will shoot him down as a suspicious threat. He volunteers for the Minnesota Trans Health Coalition and did some work with OutFront Minnesota.

Item Information:

Identifier
g732d918x
Collection
Oral Histories with People of Color
Institution
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Creator(s)
Richardson, Lawrence Tanner
Contributor(s)
Jenkins, Andrea
Publisher
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Jun. 10, 2016
Genre
Oral Histories
Transcriptions
Subject(s)
Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition
OutFront Minnesota
Places
Minnesota > Ramsey County > City of Saint Paul > Saint Paul
Minnesota > Stearns > City of Saint Joseph > Saint Joseph
Topic(s)
African American transgender people
Androgyny
Assigned gender
Bisexuality
Child abuse
Christianity
Depression
Drug abuse
Families
Femininity
FtMs
Gender realignment surgery
Gender role
Homeless people
Identity
Language
Loneliness
Marriage
Menstruation
Mental disorders
Police
Puberty
Role behaviour
Self-acceptance
Separation
Sexual orientation
Suicide
Transgender people
Resource Type
Moving image
Text
Language
English
Related URL
https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/
Rights
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