I'm one of eight kids from a single-parent home in the west side of Chicago. I had an evangelical Christian upbringing, so being gay or transgender is out of the question, and my mom kicked me out of the house at age 16.
There weren't very many options for me as a transgender woman -- or kid, really -- of color. Because I was homeless, the only thing I could find was the sex trade. I had no education, no jobs, no parents I could go to -- I had no one to turn to. And now from age 16 to 45, I've been homeless on the street on my own.
I've interviewed for over 100 jobs -- entry-level jobs like a server, cook, dishwasher, cashier -- no jobs that require a school background. I'm lucky to get to the interview, and once I get to the interview and my name doesn't match my ID and my body doesn't match what it says on my ID, I never hear back. And I believe it's because I'm a woman of color and a transgender woman of color.
I earn under $12,000 a year, and I get public food stamps of $200 a month. It's very difficult to live on that type of money. But I look forward to social changes in the future. Ideally, I would love to become a restaurant manager.
As millions struggle with unemployment, the transgender community is being hit especially hard.