Elevating Voices: Transgender Awareness Month is a series of interviews, experiences, and stories from the transgender and gender non-conforming community. The series is beginning during Transgender Awareness Week – a crucial time to uplift the stories and voices of the trans/GNC community – and will continue in other facets of our work.

Monique Evans is the EquipFin Transaction Coordinator | Deal Closer at Wells Fargo.

What does Transgender Awareness Month mean to you this year?

It’s an opportunity to reflect, cry, laugh, educate and evaluate one’s own efforts in the fight for equality and trans rights! I’m forced to reflect on the friends I’ve lost due to hate crimes, and the many folks I didn’t know but was moved by their stories.

What does resilience look like in the trans community? 

Continued efforts to collaborate with true allies and folks who will do the work and spread the word that trans people are everyday citizens, too. And, it’s not about assimilating or a desire to live stealth. Many of us love identifying as trans and do so with honor and dignity. The effort is to leverage opportunity, promote awareness and representation, eliminate stigmas, and garner everything necessary to live a productive life! 

What has resilience looked like in your life and your journey?

Taking the criticisms and rejections as fuel for the passion to live life abundantly. I am Black, trans and female – based on stereotypes and statistics I shouldn’t be here right now! I am moved to face every day with optimism and faith within my own capabilities to excel against all odds. It’s the little things that comfort me until the big things come to fruition – I have fostered a career that has allowed me to live out loud as trans. Many people are still suffering, hiding and feeling trapped. It’s my mission as I encourage myself, I encourage others along the way. Learning about yourself and determining how you fit into the world on your own terms is a wonderful experience, especially when it’s rooted in authenticity and self-acceptance above all else!

How do you hope things look differently in the future for the transgender/GNC community? 

So much has changed in my lifetime. And, although there is still so much more to be done, I’m delighted to know we’re on the right pathway. We have to continue the momentum with representation, storytelling, social engagement, political engagement, career counseling, mental wellness and mentoring for the youth. There are so many fronts to take on – but my objective has always been to clear a pathway for those coming behind me. The efforts we put forth may not always play out for us: sometimes it’s for the next generation to reap the reward… and I’m okay with that. If we keep up the fight, it gets easier for the youth. That has to make you happy!

What message would you give your younger self at the beginning of your journey?

The trans journey is different for everyone, regardless of some overlapping factors. The decision that lead me to where I am now simply was the best option for me. I’m one of the lucky ones and I’m grateful. However, one do-over would’ve been joining the gay-straight alliance in high school. But I don’t live a life of regret. I celebrate my younger self, my pre-transition self. I did everything I knew how to do in order to survive and set myself up for a solid adulthood. I transitioned in my twenties and I’m thankful for that timeline because no one can say I was confused or coerced or whatever. I did what was right for me, and transitioning unlocked my evolution as a well-rounded human being full of empathy and love. 

Why is inclusion in the workplace important for the transgender and gender non-conforming community?

Binary is easy and indoctrinated as what’s right, but it’s not the only truth of who we are as a society. The inclusion and representation of non-binary and trans people is a celebration because we exist as another facet of the human-race. And, although it may make some people uncomfortable, every aspect about life requires you to challenge your own understanding about everything in order to grow and evolve. Welcome non-binary and trans individuals to all workplaces, especially corporate, because we’re already there – it’s just a matter of being “Out” or not. We’re not here to infringe upon the rights, religious viewpoints or beliefs of others. We exist to simply be true to who we really are and our desire to love, live, be heard, be seen and have rights of protection and means of prosperity.