DeKALB – When suggested to Sata Prescott that his willingness to talk about life as a transgender married man is admirable, he shrugged it off and said, "I don't know about admirable, I think it's necessary."
Prescott, 35, is married to another transgender man who chooses not to share his personal identity with his coworkers. Prescott's husband presents himself as a woman at work, in part out of fear of being ostracized by colleagues. Prescott, who works at his "dream job" as the Albert Johannsen Project Director at the Northern Illinois University Founders Memorial Library, does the opposite.
"It's important I be as visible as possible," Prescott said, sitting in the NIU library Wednesday, a rainbow-colored pride flag tattooed as a wedding band on his left ring finger. "And particularly even though I am fat, have acne, am not a cool Instagram queer. There are very specific types of people that are allowed into the cultural debate. I wish to be a beacon for people to know they can survive, too."
June is Pride Month, where celebratory parades are held nationwide to recognize the impact people such as Prescott have had in society. Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, nationwide dissent spurred by police raiding an underground gay bar in New York City, sparking the modern LGBTQ –álesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer – rights movement.
Transgender people face higher levels of poverty, sexual and domestic violence, healthcare, legal and workplace discrimination, and even more so for transgender people of color, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, 4.5% of Americans identify as part of the LGBTQ community.