Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Sandy James

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Sandy James identifies as a black trans man only in circles of people who understand and was assigned female at birth. He describes his experiences being a black female where typically he fared better than being a black man, which seemed to James as a loss of status in certain ways. His parents are West Indian and are from the Caribbean. His dad is from Dominica which was recently ravaged by Hurricane Maria at the time of the interview. James grew up in South Harrow, England in the United Kingdom, which is a suburb north of London. His parents immigrated to the United States when he was 12, moving to Deltona, Florida. In the United Kingdom while in school he was taught about Indian culture and took Indian drumming tabla lessons since many students were Hindu and Sikh. He struggled in school while in Florida with other black kids since they didn’t accept him because of his heavy British accent. He spent the next few years scrubbing his accent to fit in. He grew up in the church going to youth group. He used to play soccer in the schoolyard with the boys in his skirt and school shoes, even though he wasn’t allowed to play as a girl. He had piano and violin lessons as well when he was young, but he always wanted to be a drummer and play guitar. He earned MVP (Most Valuable Player Award) and was the best all-around offensive player in soccer. He became a drummer in Florida and taught himself guitar in college. He went to undergrad in North Carolina, Georgetown Law School in Washington D.C., and has a background in law enforcement. James is the Principle Investigator and a survey project manager for the largest transgender survey ever conducted in the United States that was produced by the National Center for Transgender Equality. The survey found that in 2015 the unemployment rate for trans and gender non-conforming people in their sample was 15% compared to 5% for the general population, the poverty rate was over two times higher (20% versus 12%), and 39% were experiencing serious psychological distress compared to 5% in general, nearly 8 times higher.

Item Information:

Identifier
ff365544f
Collection
Oral Histories with People of Color
Institution
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Creator(s)
James, Sandy
Contributor(s)
Jenkins, Andrea
Publisher
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Sep. 29, 2017
Genre
Oral Histories
Transcriptions
Subject(s)
Forth Annual Trans Equity Summit
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
Places
Minnesota > Hennepin County > City of Minneapolis > Minneapolis
Minnesota
England > Greater London > Islington > North London
Topic(s)
African American transgender people
Census
Colonization
Discrimination
FtMs
Gender diversity
Immigrants
Linguistics
Police
Poor
Private schools
Privilege (Social psychology)
Racism
Role behaviour
Social advocacy
Sports
Statistics
Transgender people
Transphobia
Resource Type
Moving image
Text
Language
English
Related URL
https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/
Rights
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