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Georgia Transgender Oral History Project: M

McDaniel, Tracee

Interviewee: Tracee McDaniel
Interviewer: Ashley Coleman Taylor
Date of interview: December 4, 2017

Interviewee: Tracee McDaniel
Interviewer: A.C. Panella
Date of interview: May 28, 2021

Trans human rights advocate and published author, Tracee McDaniel (she/her) was born and raised in Sumter, South Carolina. After her high school graduation, she spent time in Myrtle Beach, before moving to Atlanta, where she worked as a cashier in a fast food restaurant, and began her career as a female impersonator. In 1990, McDaniel moved to Los Angeles, to escape from a domestically violent intimate partner, and while she was there, she worked in the corporate world by day and as a performance artist - Destiny, Your Mistress of Illusions - by night. During her time in Los Angeles, Tracee was hand-selected to perform as Diana Ross's stand-in for her "I Will Survive" music video shoot. She also featured in the VH1 miniseries, The Jacksons - An American Dream, and appeared in the film, Primary Colors.

Once Tracee returned to Atlanta, she became involved with issues around trans housing as founder and Executive Director of the Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, an advocacy, consulting and social services organization specifically designed to empower the trans and gender non-conforming community.  Juxtaposed Center is also an anchoring organization for Trans Housing Atlanta Program, Inc, which provides supportive and emergency housing resources to homeless and marginalized trans and gender non-conforming people. In 2007, Tracee was the first trans person to be invited to deliver a keynote speech at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration march and rally. Also i 2007, she marched on Washington, D.C., and lobbied the United States Congress to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and increased AIDS funding.

In 2013, Tracee published Transitions: Memoirs of a Transsexual Women, and 2014, she became a vetted trainer for the United States Department of Justice CRS program, "Law Enforcement and Transgender Community," which educates federal law enforcement officers how to better interact with Trans people.  In 2015, Tracee was invited to brief the White House about employment and economic equity at its Trans Women of Color History Month Briefing. In 2016, she was appointed to serve a three-year term on the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, and is currently serving a second term.

Tracee organized Atlanta's annual Trans Day of Rememberance Vigils for ten years. She also served on the Trans Housing Atlanta Program's board of directors, the Center for Civil and Human Rights LGBTQ Institute Advisory Board, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' TLGBQI Advisory Council. In 2020, Tracee was recognized in a resolution from the Georgia House of Representatives, when she received the Yellow Rose Nikki T. Randall Servant Leadership Award.

Tracee always unapologetically puts the "T" first, as she believes that trans visibility saves lives.

Abstract, May 28, 2021:
Tracee McDaniel discusses growing up in South Carolina before moving to Georgia in the 1980s, living in California in the early 1990s, and then returning to live in Atlanta in the 2000s. She reflects on her relationship with her mother, including her experiences being raised in the Southern Baptist Church. Later, Tracee discusses working in Job Corps, a federal vocational program for young adults, where she met her first trans peer and explored healthcare resources in Atlanta in the 1980s. During the interview, Tracee describes her career as a performance artist, her alter ego "Destiny, Your Mistress of Illusions," and her various successes, including standing in as Diana Ross for rehearsals of the music video, "I Will Survive" and appearing in The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992) and John Travolta's Primary Colors (1998). At the time of the interview, Tracee mentions that she is serving a second term on the Atlanta Citizens Review Board, an oversight committee for city police. This leads to discussion of Tracee’s activism, including her experiences working for the Minority AIDS Project in California (90s), establishing an anchoring organization for the Trans Housing Atlanta Program called Juxtaposed Center (2007), meeting with the Obama administration to discuss the challenges facing trans people of color (2015), and navigating advocacy efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

McGee, Amari

Interviewee: Amari McGee
Interviewer: A.C. Panella
Date of interview: August 2, 2022

Amari "Mari" McGee (he/him) is an LGBTQ+ professional speaker, educator, activist, life coach/consultant, and content creator. During his professional career, Mari has been featured in Canva, USA Today, and PinkNews. He delivers educational and inspirational keynote presentations that focus on gender identity empowerment, transgender history, and family acceptance. Mari is a transgender man who, after years of gender dysphoria, decided to dedicate his life to educating and empowering the next generation of trans youth and young adults. As an inspirational speaker, educator, and consultant; Mari also brings over 5 years of experience as a transgender activist to his work. 

Amari McGee introduces himself as an IT consultant and project manager in the tech industry. He also shares that he is the founder of To Better Understand, Inc., a nonprofit that provides educational programs to increase understanding of LGBTQ+ experiences. Reflecting on his early life, Amari discusses being active in sports and growing up between Chicago, IL, and Cleveland, OH. After graduating high school, he moved to Atlanta and graduated from Kennesaw State University. On the subject of community, Amari emphasizes the significance of experiencing Atlanta as a "Black gay Mecca" while touching on issues of gentrification affecting small businesses and queer spaces. He discusses his appreciation for My Sister's Room, one of the nation's last remaining lesbian bars, where he works part-time and has made lasting community connections and friendships. Throughout the interview, Amari also touches on topics such as family acceptance, his participation in the Andro Fashion Show, how he shares trans history as a social media influencer, and his perspective on activism in Atlanta.

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