My name is Joya (they/she) and I am a Non Binary, Trans Femme identifying writer, model, and activist. I was born and raised in Brockton, MA. While my childhood was incredibly special, there was a lot of confusion and instability that made navigating this world, and my existence as a trans child incredibly challenging.
During my early childhood, I grew up on the east side living with my mother, father, and two older brothers. My memories include very early morning soccer games on the weekends and sleepovers with my cousins. My parents separated when I was eight years old and soon after, my oldest brother moved away for college and the middle moved in with our father. My household quickly went from two parents and two siblings, to just my mom and I. For as long as I can remember, my natural feminine expression and seamless relationships with girls/other femmes was so concerning to my parents (more particularly my father). I was constantly being told to make friends with the “boys” at school and could never play with the toys, activities, or people that I desired as a young child. I couldn’t understand why I was being pulled away from the things that brought me such joy and affirmation. Just to be pressured into making friends with the people that were constantly harassing and bullying me at school. While this brought such pain and question to my life, I’ve always been very strong-willed and have known what is good for my spirit. I never gave in to my parents’ requests, so I was just forced to navigate this aspect of my life on my own. It wasn’t until my father left that my mom eased up. She would sneak around my father, buying the dolls I so badly craved and allowing me to have sleepovers with the girls. My mother never had the answers for me, but she allowed me the space to figure it out for myself.
I always had a longing to explore the world and discover life outside the city that raised me. Before I even knew what Los Angeles had to offer, I talked about wanting to move there once I graduated high school. To this day I couldn’t tell you if I was running from something or running towards it. After spending one semester at the University of Tampa, I transferred home to care for my mom’s mental well-being. I commuted locally and ended up graduating from Bridgewater State University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. My ceremony was held on a Friday, my party was that Saturday, and I moved to Miami that Sunday. I had always been putting others before myself but that intrinsic desire to see and feel the world never left me. I was always planning my escape. Since finishing college I’ve lived in Miami, DC, and LA. I began my journey on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) on May 8, 2020. The next stop on my journey is NYC. I have larger scale dreams of editorial and fashion modeling internationally, having a house/center where trans youth can find refuge and discover family, and writing a memoir to detail the most intimate life moments that lead me here today.
I’m currently unlearning and relearning, healing open wounds, forgiving myself and others, and finding my place in this world. "Queer people don't grow up as ourselves, we grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimize humiliation and prejudice. The massive task of our adult lives is to unpick which parts of ourselves are truly us, and which parts we've created to protect us." - Alexander Leon (@alexand_erleon).
I love my community and feel indebted to Black Trans women and femmes that lead the way, that lit the first match. The trans experience is very different for everyone; very personal and too often isolating. I wouldn’t have made it to this moment without the love and support from my chosen family, and from my ancestors who so relentlessly demanded our rights, who demanded our place in this world. Pride was never a party; it was a riot. The revolution was birthed by Black Trans women and femmes, and gender non-conforming folx that had enough. I feel guided by the spirits we lost during the AIDS epidemic during the 80’s and 90’s. When HIV/AIDS first came about in the US, it was disproportionately effecting the LGBTQ+ community, and more specifically gay men. And because of this, the administration was doing nothing to understand or fight the disease; they watched thousands of lives be taken. It wasn’t until our community took matters into their own hands and created organizations such as ACT UP to combat and bring awareness to the epidemic. An entire generation of my community that was very strategically wiped out by the United States government. Not only during Pride month, but everyday of my life I am constantly imagining the love, art, stories, and families of those who never stood a fair chance in this world. We owe them more than we could ever possibly give.
And to the Black and Brown trans women and femmes, and gender non-conforming lives that are being taken from us still to this day – this is all for you. The life expectancy for Black Trans women is just 35 years old. This year alone, we have already lost 28 lives to senseless acts of violence that plagues my community; and more specifically violence that disproportionately affects Black trans women. This number has already surpassed 2020 and is continuing to rise every day. We must continue to say their names.
Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentin, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, and Poe Black.
These are just the names of those who we know and were reported. They often go unreported and/or misgendered and dead-named in media outlets. Pride wouldn’t exist without the Black trans women and femmes that came before me. It is important we honor their legacy as the revolution continues and burn down cities in their name.
And through all of you, we will continue to burn.
Written by Joya Corr
- writer - model - activist -
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