“A Whole New Being”: Powerful New York Times Story Documents Struggles and Triumphs of TLDEF Client Kricket Nimmons

Kricket Nimmons December 12 - Today’s New York Times features a sweeping multimedia portrait of TLDEF client Kricket Jerná Nimmons. Kricket - seen in our offices filming a video about the Name Change Project in the photo at right - is a 40-year-old African-American transgender woman who came to us earlier this year for help changing her name soon after she moved to New York City.

She came to New York, as so many do, to embrace a hopeful future. The past had certainly been full of challenges on Kricket’s journey to be herself. Many will find those challenges painful and disturbing. Many will find in her story too much that is similar to what they have endured. Stories like Kricket’s are not told often enough. We hope that you will give it your time and attention.

Raised in a small South Carolina town in the 1970s and ‘80s, Kricket faced discrimination all around her. An HIV diagnosis at age 16 compounded the difficulties that Kricket faced as a young LGBT person trying to find her way in the world. She moved to Atlanta for school, and dropped out after a year. Her health was deteriorating, and when she dressed in women’s clothing, she encountered an unbearable wave of discrimination on campus. At times, she resorted to credit card fraud to support herself. She was ultimately sent to prison in Georgia for fraud. There she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a prison guard. She demanded a measure of justice and got it. The guard was convicted and imprisoned for what he did to her.

Last year, Kricket moved to New York for a fresh start. She connected with services that helped her begin to assemble a new life. She found housing. We helped her change her name. And after New York lifted its discriminatory ban on Medicaid coverage for transition-related health care, she finally got the health care that she could not get before. Most recently, she took up advocacy, joining other TLDEF clients to film a video about the Name Change Project so that others learn about the availability of services that can help change their lives. “People said this day would never come for somebody like me, an African-American transgender woman without a lot of resources,” Kricket told the Times. But it did.

The details of Kricket’s story are uniquely hers. But the arc of hardship and resilience that characterizes her path is one that is common to many of the community members we serve through the Name Change Project. Two thirds are people of color. And two thirds earn less than $10,000 per year. They face discrimination, violence and injustice, but like Kricket, they press forward to live free and authentic lives. A legal name change helps many of our clients get work, increase their incomes, access health care, and lessen the abuse they experience on a daily basis.

Like so many of those we serve, Kricket’s strength and determination have helped her rise above adversity and live openly and proudly as a vibrant African-American transgender woman. Kricket and all of our clients inspire us to continue our fight for justice, as well as the dignity and respect that all transgender people deserve.

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