Life is a process for everyone of course, but especially for Terra Moore, a 24-year-old Upper Marlboro, Md., resident who is working to figure out her life’s next chapter.
Moore, who’s transgender, started her outward transition in 2005. She’d dropped out of high school a couple years before. Endless speculation about her personal life pressured her to come out first as bi, then gay before finally accepting herself as a trans woman.
“I attempted to try bi just to admit something and be left alone,” she says. “That worked to a degree and people became kind of not quite as needy to know. But then I finally said I’m gay and ended up leaving school. It just wasn’t working for me and then I started to transition.”
She got her GED the next year. The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) was a lifeline for her and she still volunteers with the group.
“Before SMYAL, I was suicidal,” she says. “I was trying to figure myself out and there was not anything that was making sense. It really was a saving grace and a safe haven.”
Moore, who grew up in D.C. and Maryland, lives with her parents and admits that, too, is a struggle. In public, they acknowledge her being a woman but still use male pronouns and her birth name at home.
“They’re still reacting,” she says. “They were reacting in 2005 and they’re still reacting in 2011. … It does weigh heavily on the stress meter.”
She says being trans hasn’t seemed to hurt her job search, though. “If it has been a problem, people have done a really good job of hiding it,” she says.
Moore dreams of continuing with LGBT sex education information because she realizes how AIDS has disproportionately affects the black gay community.
She’s the 29th of 31 children of her 72-year-old father. Her parents together have five. Her younger brother and sister also live at home.
“I have lots of dreams and goals,” she says. “I’d like to dabble in a little bit of everything.”
Moore enjoys reading, writing poetry, singing, traveling and activism in her free time. She relaxes by taking walks, calling friends and listening to poetry and music on YouTube. (Blade photos by Michael Key)
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Well that’s a good question because I came out a couple of times first as gay then as a trans-woman so I came out around 2003 and again as trans in ’05. As for whom it was hardest to tell, well it’s pretty hard to hide a gender change so there wasn’t really anyone to tell just to show. That wasn’t so hard because I was just fed up and didn’t care anymore.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Every proud and openly GLBTQ individual.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I wasn’t a big fan of going out, but on the occasions I did I had a blast at the Apex, I’m definitely going to miss that place.
Describe your dream wedding.
I couldn’t. I haven’t decided that I want to be married. I would love the rights that go with it but the title I can do without.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Saving the planet. Mother Earth is in peril and if we don’t do something we will lose our home.
What historical outcome would you change?
I don’t know. I’d be too afraid of what that change might have brought about. Life isn’t perfect but I am quite sure it could be far worse. Then again if I could, slavery never would have happened. It hurts to see my elders remember their youth.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I don’t have a clue LOL.
On what do you insist?
I insist on being judged not by what you see in physical form before you but on how I choose to conduct myself.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I’d have to look and see.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Little Girl Lost”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d be sad for all the people who would change themselves to fit in.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in a little of everything beyond this world — magic and aliens for sure.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Open up further to the youth; let them in and let them learn all you have to impart. Be mindful that we each learn differently.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Equality, my soul mate, myself, love and an absurd amount of cash.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That a trans person is automatically gay or that a non-trans person is gay for sleeping with a trans person, i.e. a straight male and a male-to-female trans person.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Two off the top of my head — “La Vie En Rose” and “Beautiful Thing.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I’m not sure, I like most social customs.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My 2009 Collin Higgins Youth Courage Award
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I would have known how much losing my first love would have hurt.
Because it’s all I really know. I have traveled and I want to try other places, but at the end of the day, even with all its dysfunctions, D.C. is where my heart is.