Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Gradylee Shapiro

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Gradylee Shapiro identifies as a butch and was assigned female at birth. They did not specify preferred pronouns in their interview so the gender-neutral terms, they/them, are used throughout this abstract. They were born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up primarily in Missouri and moved around a lot. Their grandma raised them along with their brother who remains Shapiro’s best friend. Their family was homeless at some points during their childhood, living out of a car and spending some time at the Salvation Army. Shapiro stopped living with their parents at 14 when their parents got divorced. Their dad was a professional con artist, and their mom was profoundly mentally ill. Shapiro was picked on for being poor in school, and they would often tell people they were a boy when they started at a new school. They insisted on keeping their hair short and remembers praying to wake up being a boy. Despite all their parents’ faults, they were accepting of Shaprio’s gender and sexuality. Shapiro came out as bisexual and then as a lesbian during junior high school. Shapiro initially came out to a group of butch lesbians who raised them and taught them about integrity, kindness, and bravery. Shapiro then later came out as queer and then as a man. They were married to another trans-identified male for 11 years. After their marriage ended, Shapiro began dating women. They primarily identify as queer now. They now are perceived to be a straight white cis male by others and talk about their experiences with male privilege. They had an oophorectomy, a hysterectomy, and top surgery. They sometimes consider bottom surgery. They are on testosterone and lost all their hair on their head but have a full beard now. In Missouri they started a GLBT youth organization called Prism when they were 21. The group helped changed the policy of the city school board to have gender-inclusive language, and the group also hosted a city-wide GLBT prom. They worked with District 202 as the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator and then moved into the role of Program Manager.

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