August 1st will be my 25th anniversary of positively living with HIV! It hasn't always been a positive experience but I can now say I am very happy with my positive status. I have always said that being HIV positive is only just a part of me because as Audre Lorde has brilliantly said, "There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives." This has resonated with me more and more as I have gotten older because I want people to know that I also go into this world living as a young black queer woman who happened to be diagnosed with perinatally-acquired HIV.
My story doesn't start there though. A little bit about my past is that I was born in Seattle, WA in 1990 to a very young mother who was diagnosed with HIV while pregnant with me. My father was also living with HIV. They raised a family of three while at the same time battling their substance abuse. I was an older sister of two boys and one of them was also born with HIV. My beautiful mother and closest sibling in age both died from AIDS related complications around 1994. I remember bits and pieces of my last day with my mother but it was mostly just feelings of abandonment and confusion. Everything felt like it just escalated as it tends to do when someone is in contact with a traumatic experience. I was displaced from my home and father with my brother to stay in a foster home. I stayed there until I was nine and I left to live in Port Townsend, WA. At this time I was adopted by my foster mother. My brother was removed earlier and adopted my other folks. I recovered a lot through all of my obstacles that occurred along the way, but being the person I am today wouldn't have happened without support. I found a lot of that support from the HIV community. They taught me to use my story to amplify my voice and experiences. I changed this sad tragedy into something stronger.
Why Tranisha wants to be part of A Girl Like Me: A lot of us are activists. We thrive to advocate for our sisters and to make a difference, but we connect mostly because we're women LIVING with HIV. It's important to me because I simply treasure spaces where women inspire other women. It's also vital that these spaces exist for our future women.
I am honored that I work as a Peer Advocate for BABES-Network YWCA where I get to support young girls and women every day. Without the women who lifted my spirits I wouldn't be doing this today.