I’m Black, I’m Trans, I’m HIV-Positive and I’m OK

My Thing Is: The black community is often accused of being closed-minded, but my experience has been the opposite. Thanks to the overwhelming support of friends, family and mentors, I’m happily working on being the best me I can be.

The author and her fiance, Shawn Lopez Courtesy of Octavia Lewis

I bought a one-way Amtrak ticket on May 23, 2011, with five suitcases in tow, destined for a fresh start on life in New York City.

I’ve since become a trans advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS, a career and passion that has taken me all the way to Washington, D.C., for the National AIDS Conference. I was the keynote speaker for the second annual Trans Health Conference in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as a panelist at New York University’s “Living Out Loud” World AIDS Day event. I have graduated from the Audre Lorde TransJustice Community School, earned my master’s degree, become involved romantically, fostered two infant boys and legally changed my name to Octavia Y. Lewis. Even the gender marker on my identification reflects my evolution.

Currently, I am dedicated to and grounded in becoming the best possible version of myself. I hope to be an inspiration, support and source of unconditional acceptance for others in the same way that my friends, family and mentors have been for me.

Octavia Y.  Lewis is an activist, friend, future wife, mother, scholar and writer who prides herself on living her authentic truth unapologetically. Follow her on Twitter.

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