Today was my eighth anniversary with HIV. I was diagnosed in a small town doctor's office, all alone and terrified, eight years ago today.
As a very out and open HIV+ transwoman, I'm often approached by well-intentioned people at conferences and other events who tell me about how they support the transgender community, but that they don't exactly know how to interact with the trans people in their life and/or in their work. They want to be able to ask them about their lives and their gender history, yet they're often unaware of how to do that in a way that is culturally sensitive to the needs of the trans community. These questions nearly always arise from a place of curiosity and good intention, yet they're also ones which, when asked in the wrong way, can really alienate a trans person or make them feel uncomfortable.
My name is Devarah 'Dee' Borrego, and I'm a 28-year-old, HIV+ transwoman originally from Denver, Colorado, who grew up mostly in suburban Connecticut. I acquired HIV at age 20; the same year as I began my transition. I've been living in the Boston area since 2004 where I've worked with and at a number of different community organizations in the Boston area, including JRI Health, TransCEND, the Boston Living Center and Cambridge Cares About AIDS. I'm also a polyglot – I speaks Spanish, French, Norwegian, American Sign Language, and a variety of other languages to various degrees.