This 7 Q+A is beautifully timed as we prepare to celebrate the 6th Annual CU Pride Festival tomorrow and Sunday, hosted by the amazing UP Center of Champaign County! We’ll be hosting the Tell Your Story open mic at our moffice (M2, old BankChampaign location on the first floor) where we’d love to see you all there to tell your story or be an ally!
And now we present — the lovely Devlin Mckee, Intersections’ Group Facilitator at UP Center.
What are you grateful for today?
I am grateful to live in a world and in a community where a trans woman is asked to participate in a project of this nature.
Tell us about one of your friends and what you love about her.
My friend Evelyne is an amazing woman. I love her strength and inner beauty. I love that she brings so many people together because she is open to being friends with everyone and attracts amazing people to be her friends. She has helped to create an incredible community, and I meet so many wonderful people simply by being her friend. She also tells it like is is and doesn’t hold back!
Describe one of the best days of your life.
This happened at the Mariposa Music Festival here in Champaign. It was one of my first forays out to an event on my own, visibly presenting as a woman. I had put together an outfit, a whole look really, which made me feel confident and beautiful. I started out watching one of the earlier bands, and had noticed a woman in an amazing outfit. She had a vintage full skirt on with a crop top, and her beautiful curly hair was spilling from underneath a great vintage hat. Between bands, I slipped back into Big Grove Tavern, where I was enjoying some libation and a break from the heat. The gal I had noticed earlier happened to be sitting a few seats down the bar, alone and doing what a lot of us do if we’re out alone, and playing on her phone.
At first I thought she must be waiting on someone, and started messing around on my phone. After a bit, I noticed that she was still alone, and asked if she wanted some company. Being less than confident I made sure that she knew she could totally say “no” and I would totally go back to minding my own business. To my surprise and delight, she agreed and I moved down. We chatted for HOURS. It was a real blast. We got to know each other and had a ton of fun.
It later came out that she was the lead singer of one of the groups who was playing that evening. I had no idea, they were a newer band at the time, and I hadn’t heard of them or her. We continued chatting, and I watched them perform. SHE WAS AMAZING, the band was really great.
I hung out after their set, and after she signed autographs and all of that, we gal-palled around for a bit, and then parted ways. We had traded numbers and contact info. We still have the occasional contact and I was able to see her perform and chat with her the last time she was in town. It was a fun and random friendship which just kind of happened.
Early in transition, it can be hard to be self assured, it can be hard to feel like people are going to want to know you. Sometimes I felt like I was going to be a freak who would have to live a reclusive life, shunned by others. This experience so early in my transition, was pivotal and reminded me that I am someone worth knowing.
What’s the best lesson you learned from your mother/grandmother?
I think mainly kindness and compassion. My mother is a nurse, and is just such a caring and loving person. I try to follow her models and help others in whatever ways I can.
We’re all unique. What is your special gift?
What a challenging question to answer about myself! I had to check in with some friends on this one. I think my special gift is being very approachable. People seem to feel very comfortable in my presence and I think that I put them at ease. It has helped immensely getting to know so many people and learning so much about others, which I really enjoy!
What could women be doing to make their community a better place?
It is desperately important that we stand up for ourselves, that we make our voices heard. We need to make ourselves a part of the conversation. We still exist in a society which is very patriarchal and female and feminine things are viewed as lesser or as different compared to male or masculine things, which are the standard or normal. We are here, and we are not less than.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Honestly, I’m already doing it. The choice to transition and to live my truth was something I was desperately afraid of for so long. Finally deciding to do it has really kick-started my life and made such a huge difference for me. I can’t say I’m without fear in all aspects of my life, but that was the main fear which held me back from so much.