My name is Ma’Janae Chambers and I am a 31-year-old trans woman. I currently work at AIDS Foundation Houston as an outreach specialist for the PrEP Clinic School.
I was born in Orange, Texas and raised in Beaumont. When I was growing up, my parents taught me that education is the key to succeeding. I have family in Beaumont and in Houston who are very supportive of me being trans and I am very thankful for that. They are always there for me when I need them to help and support me. I currently live in the Gulfgate area in Southeast Houston and I volunteer at Open Gate Homeless Ministries on Sundays, which serves 18- to 30-year-old adults and families. I am also part of a trans sorority based in Houston.
Certain life experiences led me to embrace who I am. I have faced discrimination for three reasons: I am black, gay and transgender. I want to show other trans women that they can strive for whatever they want. I struggled to get the respect that I have now and I want others to see that if I can do it, then they can also. I say to others in my community: “Always try your best at whatever you do, but always have respect doing it.”
I am currently single and HIV negative. I became part of the Project PrIDE campaign because I want people in the LGBT and heterosexual communities to know the value of taking PrEP daily. I’ve seen too many people fall victim to thinking that PrEP is only for men who have sex with other men (MSM) and not for everyone else. In the past, I took PrEP because of my lifestyle and the fear of catching other STDs if the condom broke. By being on PrEP, I knew I was safe against HIV.
I also believe it’s important to get tested for HIV to know your status because it shows you are concerned about your health. If you find out that you have it, you have to get into treatment and stay there to be and feel healthy and to be undetectable.
I’ve always been interested in learning new things, and I believe that by learning more, you can do more. I have attended college previously and I intend to finish my degree in behavioral psychology and minor in sign language. I am a member of a nonprofit organization called the ERICISS that raises money and provides scholarships for the LGBTQ community.
The most important thing to me is my child and succeeding in life. I am also concerned about people in the trans community being misinformed about trans history and the need to support each other at every stage of transition. My goal is to fight for the rights of others because people deserve to have their opinions heard and respected.
To me, when I hear the phrase, “Live Healthy. Live Longer,” it means, whatever you do, just make sure you live a healthy life and that way, you’ll live longer. And when I hear, “I am here. I exist. I matter,” it means that when I step into the room, you will know my presence no matter if I am speaking, or just there physically. You will know that I matter and that I stand for something. I am going to fight for respect because I show respect to others.