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Chloe Fulton

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

My name is Chloe Marie Fulton and I am a 22-year-old transgender woman.

I currently work at a quick service restaurant and I am enrolled in college courses. I’ll be working toward earning my associate’s degree in January.

I attended Dickinson High School and I graduated with the class of 2014. High school played a major role in my life because it shaped me into a person I thought I was and I really wanted to be, that is, until I graduated. Then I realized, that wasn’t me at all. So, I began my journey of finding myself. I started transitioning my junior year of high school. It wasn’t the worst experience, but in a small town, opinions on the way I should live my life were sharply conservative. So, I got — and still get — a mix of positive and negative feedback about my transition. As everyone knows, some kids can be mean, and there were ugly and hateful comments directed at me. But my support system from friends and family helped me overcome that. I was born in Clear Lake, Texas, so technically, I am a Houston area native though I grew up on the outskirts in Dickinson. I currently live in Alvin, Texas, near my job and school.

My parents were not very supportive when I came out as transgender. They took a judgmental stance, thinking they could still mold me into the person they wanted me to be. Eventually, it caused me to rebel and resent them. Over time, my parents realized that they were pushing me away and at some point, they decided to change their outlook toward me being trans. Dealing with all the negativity from close relatives is what drove me to become stronger and stand up for myself, even though it is hard. It just made me realize that if the most closed minds can open up and change, then we can inspire others.

Until now, I have never volunteered for any cause involving the LGBTQ community. This campaign is the perfect opportunity for me to help build awareness on the health issues affecting my community. It’s  also a way for me to make the lives of my LGBTQ peers easier and safer. I believe my story can make a huge impact, opening minds with knowledge and love in the process.

I am currently single and I’m taking PrEP. For now, all of my time and energy is going toward building a stronger foundation, a career and a sense of self-love.

There are people who are very close to me who are living positive but undetectable. I want to help erase the stigmas surrounding HIV and PrEP so that it will be easier for people to discuss HIV positive status, taking preventive measures and getting treatment. Also, there are so many trans girls facing issues that I had to overcome. So, if I can share my story of how I dealt and deal with common issues trans girls have, maybe we can open the minds of families like mine and save the lives of our girls. We have to show everyone we no longer need to hide, we are here and we are proud!

PrEP is beneficial to gay and bisexual African Americans and Hispanics because our communities are so heavily affected by drugs and disease. It’s time to reverse the stigmas and start living healthier, happier lives.

It is important to get tested for HIV because if you are positive, you can get treatment, become undetectable, live a long, healthy life and find true and genuine love.

As a transgender woman, being candid and open is most important to me. If we are presenting ourselves to the world, they can no longer hide us away and we can start breaking down the walls that have hindered our community for so long.

In the beginning, it was hard for everyone to except that this isn’t a phase. This is truly who I am. I feel that the love my family has for me drove them to open up to acceptance. Now, I might as well have an entire army behind me. They are so supportive and loving, I just want to share it with the world. I want to give others the experience we should all have.

Self-love is what comes to mind when I hear “Live healthy. Live longer.” By showing self-love, you begin to feel healthier inside and out, finding an infinite love so strong that you have to go out and share it.

I know that I am proud of who I am becoming and I will stand strong In spreading the growth of every community. That’s what comes through when I  hear, “I am here. I exist. I matter.”