Advocate. Faith-driven. Inspiring.
These are three words to describe Blossom Brown, an openly transgender woman who is studying public health education at Mississippi University for Women. The Greenwood, Miss., native is a motivational speaker and a volunteer for the Human Rights Campaign, where she works to solve issues that surround the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer (LGBTQ) community. She has appeared on the popular daytime talk show, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," and the reality show, "I Am Cait," a series documenting the life of Caitlyn Jenner after Jenner's gender transition.
Brown spoke with The Spectator about the goals, experiences, and deep roots in faith that have brought her so far, and shares how she hopes to help others along her journey.
Q: Congratulations on your appearance on "Ellen"! How was that experience?
A: "It was awesome, because it was a huge surprise. I didn't find out that [Caitlyn Jenner] was going to try and get me on 'Ellen' until the episode when I was on 'I Am Cait.' It was all a big surprise. She called me a couple of weeks before the show premiere and said make sure to watch the next episodes. That's where everything was revealed. I was told that I was going to be on the show, but they were going to try to get her to come backstage and say 'hi.' I forgot that [backstage] was the hidden camera room! And then they surprised me with the check. It's been amazing!"
Q: What's your goal as a nurse?
A: "I want to be a public health nurse. And I really want to focus on the health of the LGBTQ community. Especially the transgender community, because I feel like our health is often overlooked. We're underprivileged, misrepresented, and just so many different things, so I kind of want to bring our health to the forefront."
Q: How has your time at The W been?
A: "Oh, it's been great! I've enjoyed these past two years. I feel like this is the first and only college that's treated me fairly - the way I feel comfortable. I get called by my preferred name and not the government name. My professors are so supportive, [along with] the student body. I think, in every speech, every TV show that I've appeared on, I've always mentioned that I go to school here, because I'm really proud."
Q: You're a Human Rights Campaign volunteer. What do you do with that?
A: "Basically, whenever they have meetings, you try to help find ways to get the community involved and fix certain issues that might be going on in the law system. It's sharing our stories. We do a lot of different things. The organization is pretty much about educating people, especially about the LGBTQ community and allies as well. It's an organization I love being a part of."
Q: When did you begin to feel like you were a woman living in a man's body?
A: "Since I was a kid! I remember in kindergarten, I would take crayons and color my nails. I always told my teacher my name was Brittany instead of the government name. So I knew at a very young age that something was different. I didn't know anything about transgender until I was 19 or 20. I went a long time not knowing anything [about being transgender]."
Q: How did your family react?
A: "My mom kind of knew via my Facebook page. We weren't Facebook friends, but some of my other family members were. They would come and tell her everything. I didn't tell her, because I was living in her household. When I was in community college, I didn't start coming to school dressed as I am until my sophomore year. I would leave the house dressed as a woman but come home dressed as a boy, because I felt like my mom wouldn't have accepted it at the time. And then I got hurt at work. The store flooded with water, and I slipped and fell and hit my head. I was knocked unconscious, so I had to go to the hospital. And that's when I revealed everything to her and she was better -- she accepted it, surprisingly. I think a lot of it had to [be that] she just really wanted me to come to her."
Q: You have a really strong connection with God. A lot of people in the LGBTQ community have lost their connection with God, if they ever had one, and they kind of just severed that. You kept strong with it.
A: "I'm a very spiritual person. I don't disrespect anybody else's religious beliefs. God gave us all a journey. He's foreseen your entire life. Being born, up until the day you die. He knows who you're going to meet, who you're not going to meet, what you're going to do with your life, what you're not going to do. He already knows this. He already knew this before I was born. This is my journey. It's to tell people, 'Who are you to interfere in somebody else's journey of life? How do you not know that God is using us to see how you treat people that are different than you? How do you not know that He's testing you and your faith?' I feel like I'm nothing without Him. Just being one of the voices in the community that's saying, 'Hey, we're people, too. We just want to live normal.' I think it's just awesome. Don't get me wrong - religion is something I struggle with, because you're trying to find yourself and you have these people who are Bible-thumpers who want to crucify you, because you're gay or trans or whatever and you're trying to be connected with Him spiritually. I just tell anybody, 'Just take the time to discover what you want, what you believe spiritually or not.' It's really definitely helped me on the way."
Q: What do you think others should take away from your experience?
A: "I'm just a normal person, wanting to live a normal life. I have goals, I have dreams. I just want to live them, just like everybody else. I don't regret my time here in Mississippi, but I'm ready to move on, do my nursing thing, come back and maybe help. That's not out of the question. I just really want people to understand, 'Hey, I am normal. I have goals just like you. I'm no different than you. I just want to live my authentic self the way I feel like I should.'"