Hometown Hero: The Educator of Our Future
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Queerport will be profiling a number of trans+ people during the month of April, kicking off March 31 with Trans Day of Visibility. TDoV is all about celebrating trans and gender non-conforming+ people and raising awareness, and we want to highlight these folks all month long. This is the second in a series. Art by S. M. Prescott; story by Derick Stevens-Jones.
WILLIAM ALEXANDER MORRISON
Teaching is in William Alexander Morrison’s blood, so to speak.
Adopted at the age of 13 months from China, William’s mother (a single mother, at that) was also a teacher and helped pave the way for him to understand his calling as an educator.
“I have an obligation to educate. Once I moved to college, I realized that obligation was really affirming and empowering,” he said. William is a graduate of Centenary College of Louisiana and currently lives in Waco, Texas where he moved for a teaching position.
William, who is an Asian-American trans man, said life growing up in Louisiana wasn’t as difficult as one might think, but he felt more microaggressions towards his race than anything. He said he always knew he looked different, but he didn’t "come to terms" that people perceived him differently until middle school. On top of discovering his racial identity, he was also understanding his gender and sexuality.
"I had been asking my mom since second grade if I was a lesbian," he said. "She unbiasedly asked me 'Do you think you’re a lesbian?' She wasn’t expecting me to come out as trans."
And to be fair, William wasn’t expecting it either. After watching YouTube videos and exploring Tumblr, he realized he wasn’t a lesbian but was transgender. In the 9th grade, William decided to come out to his mother and by the summer of sophomore year, his transition began.
"It took her a second. She went to an LTA [Louisiana Trans Advocates] support group, came back and said 'OK, let’s do this. What do I need to do?’," he recalled. "I’m very thankful, and I’m very lucky."
Now, at 22, William has been able to live authentically as himself for almost a decade. He identifies as pansexual with hetero-romantic tendencies. As he put it — "I identify as straight, I identify as queer, I identify as a trans man."
A piece of advice he gives to his former self: "It’s OK. You’re going to be OK." He said if he were to meet his former self, he’d probably give them a hug even though at the time he didn’t like hugs. Assuredly, though, he said he’s fine with them now, especially since he’s had top surgery.
"I remember right after I got the surgery, at one point my bandages were off and I could see my heart beating, and that’s not something I’d seen before," he said. "I think it’s a metaphor for a lot of things, but I was closer to my heart. I felt more at home."
As for his advice to others? "Fight like hell. Don’t give up."
While he's still learning about his race and cultural identity, William said he doesn’t often see faces like his own when a trans narrative is brought up. He hopes his story gives others the tools and courage necessary to ask questions and start a conversation. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Derick Jones is a co-creator of Queerport. You can usually find them at their vintage shop or out and about documenting Shreveport's queer history in the making.