Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Raquel Willis

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Raquel Willis is a black southern transgender queer woman from Augusta, Georgia who was raised Catholic. Her mom was an educator for almost 30 years at Augusta Technical College while her dad worked for the government as an inspector. She had a strained relationship with her older brother who would tease her as a kid, but she’s now closer to her brother and is very close to her sister as well. People around her, including her family, sensed Willis was different in some way as a kid but couldn’t put their finger on it, including Willis herself. Her father thought her mother was too soft and forgiving with Willis as a child. He was constantly attempting to involve Willis in sports and to butch Willis up telling her to “Dry them eyes, boy.” She came out to her mom as gay at 14 leading to her mom placing her in religious counseling. The counselor was pretty affirming for Willis, however. She came out to her dad a year later at 15 as gay. He wasn’t pleased. He told her it was just a phase, that she would get over it, and fought Willis to not come out at school. Later, her father died before she came out as trans. She thought she was gay because at the time she did not know anything about trans identity. She dated a trans man in college at 21 who was affirming of her identity and helped her realize she was, in fact, a trans woman. She started hormones and performed in drag as Roxy which helped her realize it was the only place to express herself as a woman and let go. Her mother now accepts Willis as trans, even while throwing Willis into a new script of womanhood that includes children and being straight. She identifies with the south, and she’s a writer, an activist, a public speaker, a media maven, and a podcast host for Black Girl Dangerous. She’s currently working on a manuscript with a collection of personal essays. She works at the Transgender Law Center, headquartered in Oakland, California, which is the largest trans advocacy organization in the United States.

Item Information:

Identifier
tm70mv419
Collection
Oral Histories with People of Color
Institution
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Creator(s)
Willis, Raquel
Contributor(s)
Jenkins, Andrea
Publisher
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Jun. 7, 2017
Genre
Oral Histories
Transcriptions
Subject(s)
Black Girl Dangerous
RuPaul
Trans Advocacy Organization
Transgender Law Center
Places
California > Alameda County > Oakland
Georgia > Richmond County > Augusta
Topic(s)
Activists
Assigned gender
Black people
Coming out
Counseling
Dating
Drag
Drag kings
Family members
Femininity
Feminism
FtMs
Gay identity
Gender dysphoria
Gender identity
Gender role
Homophobia
Hormone therapy
Masculinity
MtFs
Religions
Religious texts
Role behaviour
Sexism
Southern States
Sports
Transgender people
Transitioning (Transgender)
Transphobia
Writers
Resource Type
Moving image
Text
Language
English
Related URL
https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/
Rights
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