As a 28-year-old transgender woman, Michelle Rosenblum was going through puberty when she started having mixed feelings about the gender she was assigned at birth.
“But I never had the words to articulate it,” recalled Rosenblum of Oxnard. “I always had feelings … but I always shoved them aside and tried to squash them out — trying to be somebody I wasn’t.”
A year and a half ago, Rosenblum started exploring her feelings on a deeper level, which led to meeting other transgender individuals like her.
“And a bell went off in my head — I was like, I can relate to this,” Rosenblum said.
About a year ago, she officially came out.
“I’m pre-op, which means I haven’t had surgery, but I am definitely full-time,” said Rosenblum.
“It actually went very well, all things considered. It still has its challenges, but I was definitely playing it up to being a lot more scary than it ended up being.”
For several months before she transitioned, “Every single night I would ask myself … if there was a button I could push and instantly be the girl, would I do it,” she said. “The answer was always yes.”
On Nov. 19, Rosenblum will perform at the Ventura County Transgender Day of Remembrance, where she will play “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid on guitar.
Sponsored by Trans Alliance Ventura and the Free 2 Be Me Foundation, the event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at A Place of Peace, 2021 Sperry Ave., #22, in Ventura.
“Gender is a spectrum, and people expressing their gender are starting to feel more comfortable as we identify ourselves,” said Anne Blakeley of Oxnard, a transgender woman and the founder of Trans Alliance Ventura and the Free 2 Be Me Foundation. “It’s not based on sexual organs — it’s based on how we feel inside.”
The event will honor those who lives have been lost in the transgender community in the past year while celebrating equality and diversity everywhere.
Nationwide, this is the worst year on record in terms of deaths and murders in the transgender community, Blakeley said.
“We are now at 24 whereas last year it was 22,” Blakeley said. “And there’s several factors — one of them is we have much more exposure, both positive and negative.”
The other reason is that more people are coming out, she said.
“They’re self-identifying whatever gender they feel they are,” said Blakeley. “So they’re coming out more, and that is also telling us that they’re being able to expose themselves, and that puts a larger target on us.”
Guest speakers include Julian Foley, 19, of Newbury Park, a transgender male who won last year’s Diversity Gala Youth Community Service Award.
Other speakers include Jude Ezra Goodman from Thousand Oaks, who won this year’s Diversity Gala Youth Community Service Award.
“He’s transmasculine but doesn’t identify as male,” Blakeley explained.
Quinn Solis of Ventura is also slated to speak.
“Quinn does not identify with any gender and prefers not to use pronouns,” Blakeley said.
Above all, “We want to show people how to accept gender variances and be able to treat us as just normal human beings expressing ourselves as we feel,” Blakeley said.
This year’s event will feature keynote speaker Erika Ervin of Long Beach.
At 6 feet, 8 inches without heels, Ervin was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest model in the world in 2011. She is best known for her role in American Horror Story: Freak Show, and will star in the upcoming film, Chimera.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not for the dead — it’s for the living,” Ervin said. “It should be the transgender day of celebration. Those who died have been sacrificed in the name of our civil rights.”
The reason why the number of transgender deaths are higher this year “is because we have an unprecedented visibility,” Ervin said. “The last few years — with Caitlyn Jenner and Janet Mock coming out just to name a few — have put us on the radar of the public eye to create a nuclear fusion of action.”
That action should be kept in the spirit of solidarity, love and compassion for the friends and loved ones of the deceased, Ervin said.
“And to remember our gratitude to the living,” she said.
At the Transgender Day of Remembrance “We’re going to remember our dead by celebrating our victory in the future,” Ervin said. “They will not die in vain. We will not be victims, we will not be beat down; we will not surrender. We’ll keep fighting on until every transgender man, woman and child enjoys equal protection under the law.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1267489959939177/