Emily Newberry knew that she was not like other kids from a young age. At 6, she wanted to wear girl clothes and hang out with the girls. Despite this, she still participated in traditionally masculine activities such as football and the boy scouts to connect with her father. Emily was no stranger to shame. When her parents divorced, she moved to a conservative area where this divorce was kept secret. Here, Emily had to act like her stepmother was her birth mother. This shame trickled into other aspects of Emily’s life, leading her to suppress her unknown feelings for years to come.
Taking pride in her Cherokee heritage and the skills from her job in conflict resolution led to her discussing being transgender with her then wife, who responded apprehensively. By 2008, Emily knew she was transgender and began to meet with various therapists to aid in this process. It was not until Emily met with a primary healthcare provider who specialized in transgender patients that she felt comfortable enough to take hormones. As many before had either scared her or eluded to the fact that she was not ready.
After finally coming out as a woman, Emily faced barriers in both her job and social life. Suddenly, her job questioned her ability to preform her role and forced her out. After this event, she set out on a path to finding strong ties within her community through women’s groups and the Northwest Gender Alliance. In these groups, she was able to meet with other women and transgender people, both of which validated Emily at every turn. Today, Emily continues her activism on transgender issues by serving on panels in Portland and though her writing and poetry.