Trans Leadership Initiative: Interview with Fletcher Page
CSE Community Organizer Britney Nesbit interviewed Fletcher Page, Assistant Director of the Gender Benders (GBs) and member of CSE’s Trans Leadership Initiative.
Fletcher Page is a 24-year-old Trans man living in Greenville, South Carolina where he was born and raised. Fletcher has served as Assistant Director of the Gender Benders (GBs) for the past three years. This volunteer role means helping to manage and mentor a group of 500 members based in Upstate South Carolina. Fletcher also works as a consultant for the Campaign for Southern Equality and is currently helping organize and lead a series of Community Law Workshops across the South during December and January. We are also happy to highlight Fletcher as a member of our Trans Leadership Initiative (TLI) which is a program that provides intensive support, leadership coaching and technical assistance to trans leaders from across the South.
“There are few spaces that folks can walk in and feel immediately at home and part of – especially for trans and queer folks. Fletcher has a gift for bringing that healing energy into any space he works in. He is driven by a passion for people, and his love for our community is evidenced by all his work with Gender Benders and CSE.” – Ivy Hill, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Gender Benders
How did you first find out about the Gender Benders group?
A friend of mine introduced me to the GBs early on in 2013. I had no idea what the GBs were. I got added to the secret Facebook group and it just so happened that my friend of 20 years, Ivy, is the director. They saw my name and reached out. That solidified that family piece for me. I had found my family.
How do you show up in your various leadership roles?
I think that one of my gifts as a leader is that I am able to connect with just about anyone on a really personal level. It’s one of the things I am most proud of, the way that I am able to empathize. I think it makes me very vulnerable as a leader and it allows folks to trust me a lot quicker than they may trust other folks in a position of power. I place a lot of value in humor, being genuine and being down to earth. I think it’s very important to keep it real and come at people with a big open heart. I try to do that always and just be really honest in who I am and what I am about. I love strong, hard, fierce and deep.
Could you share a little bit about your gender identity journey from childhood to now?
Since I was a kid, I had an intense desire for intimacy and connection with people because I did not have it at home. There was an immense amount of neglect and emotional abuse. I never had time to think about gender identity as a child because I was so worried about taking care of my younger sister and surviving. I had to make sure my little sister and I ate and that the lights didn’t get cut off. I was so consumed with taking care of my sister, Hannah, that I wasn’t [thinking about] my gender identity when I was younger.
I came out as trans when I was 17, right after I moved out of my parents’ house. At that point, I came out as gender fluid. At that same time, I felt an intense sense of loss because I didn’t know who I was. There was a very deep incongruence that I was all of a sudden aware of. Then, one day, I was able to realize what that thing was, it was like a key and lock. I felt myself come rushing back.
Tell me about your GoFundMe campaign.
I cannot continue to do this work if my body isn’t aligned with who I know I am. My binder causes me a lot of pain and discomfort, but I am finally to a point where I am being read as male in the world so I can’t NOT wear it. I am so desperate to not feel this big heart of mine being squeezed under this tight binder so I am raising money for top surgery and sculpting procedures to masculinize my body more.
I have always given so selflessly, not with the intention of getting anything in return, but now I am the one who needs help. I don’t have insurance, I don’t have any monetary support in any way. My family was dirt poor. I came from nothing, I have nothing.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Genuine, strong and gentle.