Community Heroes with Jericho

Aadya Rising: Hi JERICHO, let’s start by introducing yourself. Our readers are certainly interested in where you live, where you come from, your age, what you are doing these days etc.

JERICHO: Hello! My name is Jericho Galindo I use he/him pronouns, I am 30 years old and I currently live in Phoenix with my partner. These days I am healing up from top surgery, by day I am a Trans Health Navigator and by night I am a Drag artist.

Aadya Rising: JERICHO, you have a very beautiful name. Does it have a meaning, and how did you choose the name?

JERICHO: Thank you! Funny story, I never actually intended on changing my name, my birth name was very unique, and it was given to me by my father but over time it just wasn't me anymore. One day at work I was going through my list of potential names, Jordan was on the list, that is where my mother was born, but I thought it doesn't quite fit but I love a ‘J’ name, then Jericho popped into my head. With the religious background I have, I remembered hearing about the battle of Jericho. The battle of Jericho referred to the city as having these huge walls that no one could get through, then they came crumbling down,  although I am no longer religious, I loved this story, I refer to it as a parallel to my life, from being sheltered to being free. It also means Moon city, which I share a strong connection to spiritually.

Aadya Rising: You were born in Bakersfield, CA and now live in Michigan, how was it for you back in Michigan when you realized you were trans?

JERICHO: I was born in Bakersfield, CA, however we moved to Michigan right after I was born. I have spent most of my adult life in Michigan. When I realized I was trans, I had a group of amazing individuals ready and willing to help. For folks outside my immediate support group it was a challenge for them to accept and understand me presenting more masculine. My intention at the time was to be stealth, that changed drastically when I moved to Phoenix, my worldview has expanded so much living here and I have a support system not only here but from all around.

Aadya Rising: Our readers may ask themselves when you realized that you are trans? Can you describe that?

JERICHO: Gosh, that is a great question! Simply,  I didn't know what I didn't know. Like I mentioned I was quite sheltered growing up I didn’t even know the word what the word ‘transgender’ meant. All I knew growing up is as I got older I increasingly became uncomfortable in my body. Before puberty set in, I remember the last time I was allowed in a pool with my shirt off, I was so distraught. ‘Why couldn't I have my shirt off?’ ‘Why couldn't I do what boys did?’ I often thought.

I remember at a young age asking my mother how do you know you are a girl? She referred to ‘if you have what you have between your legs you are a girl’. I accepted that answer but I still wasn't sure, I didn't feel like a girl.

I wanted to do more stereotypical masculine things but never knew why, as I got older I found attraction to girls and based off of my mother’s definition of gender, I was a ‘girl who liked girls’ so I was a lesbian. This label never felt right either.

Throughout years of being curious about my gender I googled some things(I don't remember what) that led me to videos on YouTube of Trans people documenting their physical transition. With my limited knowledge all I knew at the time was I wanted to feel anything other than what I felt at the time, uncomfortable/depressed/suicidal.  I wanted to be strong, I wanted to be on hormones. So 2012 I came out and unfortunately didn't have support. In 2014, I came out as Gender Queer and later came out as Transgender. Most recently I identify most with what I refer to as ‘not cis’ because that’s all I know for sure. My presentation and expression of my gender change often.

Aadya Rising: How did your family react? Could you/can you talk to them about it, do they accept you as trans?

JERICHO: Most of my immediate family are devout Jehovah’s witnesses. So even when I became aware of my attraction to girls this wasn't accepted in the home I was raised in. I was kicked out/left home and the religion at 17/18 years old because of my sexual orientation. At the time I really didn't have the language to explain my sexual orientation let alone gender identity.

My parents and I don't have a close relationship but once I started hormone therapy I sent them an email letting them know I was Transgender so they would be aware if we ever see each other in the future, that I will look different. I have since told them about changing my name and having top surgery but all as an FYI, they do not accept me as trans but they respect my ability to choose what is best in my life. It was not any easy road for them to come to this understanding, we put each other through hell, but after losing both my grandmothers in 2020 I have really shifted my focus to acceptance and healing from the trauma I experienced.

Aadya Rising: Some transmen celebrate their „t-birthday”, do you do that, too?

JERICHO: I do actually! I usually will post on social media, but sometimes I do forget it, but all to be able to look back on how far I've come in my physical transition.

Aadya Rising: What helped you during your transition? Did you have any role models? For example on TV, Instagram, famous trans people from the US or other countries etc. ?

JERICHO: Gosh, so many, in the beginning of my physical transition I used to be so jealous of almost every trans man I encountered, I was uneducated, insecure and judgmental to say the least. But like I mentioned moving to Phoenix really expanded my worldview, my partner is a Trans Woman and was incredibly patient and supportive with whatever I wanted to do. As I surrounded myself with queer individuals, I understood I could be safe and be whatever kind of trans person I wanted to be.

-As far as ‘famous’ people go, I have a long list feel free to ask me if you are curious, i'd rather not share without their permission.-

Aadya Rising: At Aadya Rising, we offer support groups “from trauma to triumph” for ftm and mtf trans/non-binary folx who have suffered trauma. I am in such a group and I noticed a lot of us love pets and nature. My pet does not judge my gender identity or my sexual orientation. Do you have thoughts on that?

JERICHO: Me and my partner's pets are our babies! They definitely don't judge or care for that matter because they are cats ha!

Personally they've helped me through a lot of panic attacks caused by my trauma.

Aadya Rising: Many trans people post their post-surgery photos on Instagram. What is your opinion about that?

JERICHO: I am all for whatever makes someone happy! If you want to post then post! I used to post side by sides of my physical transition all the time, mainly to keep track of my changes/progress but over time I felt like I had post; it didn't feel genuine anymore. I am extremely happy with my results, but this experience has been deeply personal. I’m sure in time I will share but at this time I’m ok with not everyone having access to something so personal.

Aadya Rising: Which challenges or problems are you facing in your daily life as a trans person?

JERICHO: As a trans person with trauma I feel at times I am not enough or not doing enough. Sobriety and mental health have been a challenge. Wanting to be stealth early in my physical transition, it’s ironic the struggles I have to today, pre T I was struggling to just be gendered correctly each day, and now I am cis assumed and have male privilege which can be difficult to navigate because that has never been my experience.

Aadya Rising: Many trans people have difficulties in finding a safe home. How was that for you?

JERICHO: Once I left home at 17/18 I was able to reconnect with my sister and a friend of hers allowed me to sleep on their floor, it wasn't until I was 22, I believe, that I had a stable job and my own apartment. Between that time it was a challenge, I didn't feel safe often but I am forever grateful for the couches I was able to sleep on and for those closest to me supporting me the best they could during many difficult times.

Aadya Rising: What do you like most about your life right now?

JERICHO: I get to do what I love, be with who I love, and grow every day. I work with gender expansive clients, I am able to express my art through drag and I am building a life with a beautiful partner.

Aadya Rising: What do you miss most from your former hometown?

JERICHO: My sister being only a short drive away, the leaves changing with the seasons, drives to the beach, and big green trees everywhere. The rain, cool breeze, but for sure not the snow!

Aadya Rising: (for activists) Jericho, you are involved in activism. We see you as a true community hero. Please tell us about your work.

JERICHO: I want to say first this is a true honor, I have not been the most informed, aware or kindest person in my past. I am forever grateful for the lessons I've learned so far. I would say generally my focus has been on advocacy but I am becoming more of an activist to promote direct action and change. To tell you a little bit about my work, in 2019 I won Mister Phoenix Pride, that year with the Phoenix Pride class we raised 52,000 for the Phoenix Pride Scholarship Fund. During this year in collaboration with Pride staff and community partners we provided Inclusivity training for various companies, specifically training on how to better support Trans employees.

In 2020 I joined the Imperial Court of AZ, a nonprofit dedicated to fundraising for local nonprofits. In March 2021 we raised over $22,000 in in kind donations and over $1,000 in cash donations for the Southwest Center’s TRANS(Transgender Resources and Navigation Services) Closet. I have a passion for education, awareness, and fundraising for the Transgender/NB community. I am to uplift the voices of Trans Women of color by offering resources, support and education for allies.

Aadya Rising: We at Aadya Rising are offering scholarships for top surgery and gender affirming procedures and you were our first scholarship winner!!! For trans people,  top surgery is often a dream come true. Cis people sometimes wonder why. Because most people are afraid of surgery and want to avoid surgery! Why is top surgery so important to you from your perspective as a trans man?

JERICHO: And thank you for this amazing resources! Now that I've had top surgery I feel like my chest has always looked like this, so for me it was about obtaining something that I always saw myself as or was. I was willingly to do whatever it took to obtain top surgery because it was already mine, it was already me, if that makes sense. In short it was worth the sacrifice or fear of surgery. My chest never felt like a part of me, now it does.

Aadya Rising: How did you feel after your top surgery? How has it changed your life?

JERICHO: Because of this surgery I have a new found peace and confidence. I feel incredible! Healing is definitely a process though, I'm not one to not be active so that is challenging, but it has changed my life tremendously, each shirt I try on now is a new experience, hugging/dancing moving is all a new experience.

I'm learning to love my new body every day and it feels liberating!

Aadya Rising: What are your thoughts on self-care?

JERICHO: Self-care is an essential practice for me.

Aadya Rising: Jericho, you have already come such a long way and you have already achieved so much. What are plans for the future, your dreams?

JERICHO: Again thank you for your kind words, each moment has been an honor to grow as a human. The kind of achievements I’ve made I’ve only dreamt of, I never thought I'd make it to this point. My plans for the future include, going back to school, furthering my career in Transgender/GNC Health, getting married and so much more.

Aadya Rising: What do you want for other trans people? Do you have special tips based on your experience?

JERICHO: I want other gender expansive people to know your transition is your own, you have a say in your care, you deserve respect and you do not need surgery or hormones to affirm your gender. Whatever brings you joy is the goal.

A few tips:

  • Take it slow - I know you may want change overnight but enjoy the little moments
  • Educate and Empower yourself
  • If you are on hormone therapy find the right dose for you
  • Build a support system if you are able
  • Its ok to ask questions/ask for help
  • And just know you're not alone

Aadya Rising: What are your lessons learnt from living through a pandemic?

JERICHO: So many, the main one being healing mentally, emotionally and physically is something I need to focus on. Another big lesson for me is knowing how much I take for granted, appreciation goes a long way.

Aadya Rising: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JERICHO: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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