Confessions From An African-American Transgender Woman

Change is inevitable. Change is necessary.

This is a quote I recite to myself every morning I wake up. Ever since I began my transition in 2009, it has been the thought process that has fueled my passion for productivity, in a world that seeks to tell you who you should be. Although I was born in a small town called Seaford, Delaware my story doesn’t really begin until my mother moves me to St. Mary’s, Georgia at the age of 3. Here I discover something is very different with me than other children. I was raised in an African-American home with my single mother and a woman I would grow to love and know as my “other” mother.

I was fascinated by her. Everyone in my family were preachers. As I grew up, I kind of knew that at some point it would be the legacy that I left behind, or so I thought. To the naked eye, I was the poster child. I went to church every Sunday and several times during the week. When my “other” mother received the call of God to move our family to Albany, Georgia, I began to accept the fact that ministry was my purpose. I became well versed in scripture and I became well known as a psalmist, prophet, and preacher. But I harbored a secret.

My life and ministry have led me extensively across the East Coast, where I assisted several pastors with the development of their ministries. During this stage, I thought I was battling the feelings of a gay man, not being introduced to the word transgender or transsexual until I secretly looked at The Jerry Springer Show, hoping and wishing that one day I would be as beautiful as the prettiest ones.

A turning point in my life, was when I moved to Providence, Rhode Island at the age of 20, to pursue a ministerial endeavor with a ministry that had just begun. On my 21st birthday, I walked into a predominantly gay bar for the first time ever. I was terrified of drag queens but as I sat at the bar and talked to my bartender, who also happened to be a close friend and work colleague and the person who invited me; I encountered a woman. But I realized in the first few moments that although she was beautiful, she too harbored a secret. As I spoke to this woman for all of 10 minutes I was mesmerized by her strength to be who she was without apology. I was so fascinated by her that I spent every weekend at that bar so that I could watch her get up on the stage and sing live in front of at least 30 adoring and devoted fans. Her name was Jackie Collins. Today, she would probably not remember the small frame boy, (who at the time was battling housing and had only developed that small frame from anorexia) who she would encourage many years later to live in “her” truth.

It was in these stolen moments for once someone understood how I felt inside. I never knew the feeling of being an African-American boy or man growing up in society because for the most part ever since I could remember, I have viewed life through the eyes of a woman. I moved back to Delaware shortly afterward and got in touch with some people and began getting hormones off the street (how stupid that was?). In 2013, I married a man who happened to also be a preacher and we began an inclusive and progressive ministry for all people. He pushed me to be myself completely and totally. He was the driving force that prompted me to seek for help under a physician’s care, which I did eventually.

Even as a male preacher, I was very feminine and was known for my long hair. Most traditional churches started not to deal with me because they viewed me as a liability. It was in this state that I knew it was nothing wrong with the church but something very wrong with the people in it. Slowly but surely I began losing ministerial connections with long-time colleagues because of my marriage to my ex-husband and my transition. Through the years, I have endured a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, accompanied by death threats and promises of getting me delivered and cured. Being a spiritual individual, I have cried out to God many nights to change how I felt inside, if it was wrong in His eyes. Continuously he has always assured me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.

When we embrace our truth, we have embraced our spirituality and humanity. My truth is… I am an African-American transgender woman! I am educated. I am spiritual. I am an asset. I matter. My life matters and my presence is needed. "Change is necessary….Change is inevitable!”  

Kailani Abbott has been a spiritual leader and advisor for over the past 17 years. Her expertise in human and social affairs has afforded her the opportunity to advise private and public sectors from many diverse backgrounds, cultures, and communities. She is a life strategist, empowerment specialist, motivational speaker, and relationship/marriage consultant. She holds a Doctoral Degree in Ministry from Ko-Ach Bible College and Seminary and has had over 17 years of experience in spiritual matters and advanced mentorship. She is a healer of the soul and is marked as an extraordinary “Soul Doctor”, who specializes in deep rooted issues, generational curses and alternative healing methods for the mind, body, and soul. “Dr. K: The Influence Specialist”, as she is affectionately known as, works on the heart of humanity and speaks to the strength of the mind. As a master-communicator and influence specialist, she has assisted in the productivity, advancement and overall projection of new and thriving corporations. She and Kailani Abbott Ministries and Kailani Abbott Enterprises and Industries are solely dedicated to rebuilding the whole “YOU”, one half at a time. Through extensive knowledge of the “7 Spheres of Influence”, Dr. Abbott serves humanity with unlimited strategies to access the totality of life on any given level.