My name is Andrea Delilah Ramirez. I was born male on the beautiful island of St. Croix U.S.V.I. I am a trans woman of color. My given name is Jude Andres Ramirez.
It should come as no surprise that being a Crucian trans woman has not been easy. From the time I was 4 years old I knew I was unique, and I also know to keep those feelings inside. When I was 13, I came out to my mother because I couldn’t keep those feelings inside any longer.
As a single parent, that was very difficult for her. While she had her doubts, she never stop loving me. Through it all, she was by my side throughout every step.
I went to a very conservative Christian high school where I worked very hard to fit in. So much so, that I graduated at age 15 with a 4.0 GPA. I then went to the very conservative Liberty University where I was expelled for coming out as trans. I then transferred to The Juilliard School for the performing arts, hoping for a better fit.
While also difficult, it was a relief to be surrounded by the other identities within the LGBTQ community. I was exposed to a lot of our culture, but most of all I became more opened and affirmed as a transwoman. When I visited my mom after my first year, she did not recognize me. I had to sit her down and come out all over again. And again, she remained calm, and loved me still.
At Julliard, I learned not to distinguish myself from the LGBTQ, but to live as part of the of the larger family. After graduating, I returned home to St. Croix to become involved in the LGBTQ community. I joined St. Croix Pride Inc, where I was welcomed by the most loving and welcoming group of gays and lesbians I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in St. Croix. They have been there for me, ready to help with whatever I need. Not only have they accepted me, but they have welcomed me into leadership as we have planned two years of St. Croix Pride events, including the Pride and Faith service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix.
When I left Liberty University, I thought I had left my faith behind. But years of faith-based education and community left me wanting. The Rev. Qiyamah Rahman, the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix, reminded me of what I was missing. As we began planning the Pride and Faith service, we bonded immediately. The friendship we share is what I was yearning for at Liberty and in my conservative Christian high school. She has opened her heart to me and her UU congregation has as well.
After the spike in trans murders across the country, I suggested that we host a memorial service in memory of the 23 murders of 2018. I was honored to have the privilege of speaking on their behalf, realizing how far my life had come and the many times I came so close to death just for being trans. The memorial was so moving that we have decided to include it every year.
I also sang two songs, “How Great Thou Art” and “This is Me” (YouTube).
The latter includes the lyrics, “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down; I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out; I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me.”
This is Me. This is the heart of Pride and Faith, and all that is St. Croix Pride. Being who we are, without fear and without shame.
Singing and being apart of the Pride and Faith celebration takes me back to age 13, when I was in choir, singing praise and worship music. It took me back to the place when I was hiding, when I felt ashamed of who I was. Except, today I am not ashamed. Rev. Qiyamah and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix helped me to look at church anew, friendly to the entire LGBTQ community, but especially to me as a proud and faithful trans woman of color.