The man who came out as transgender is not just one of the few transgender Americans who has spoken openly about being transgender — but also of the incredible courage it takes to live as a transgender person in a country where transgender people are still not considered “women” or “men.”
And as he prepares to leave his post as president of the NAACP, John Conyers, Jr., who has represented the city of Detroit since 2007, will tell a story about living his transgender identity from the inside out.
Conyers is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a powerful political force in the African-American community.
Conyer is also a staunch opponent of President Donald Trump’s executive order that blocks transgender individuals from the military.
But Conyers will not speak about his transition from being transgender to a man, Conyers told BuzzFeed News in an interview Thursday evening.
“I just wanted to share that story because it’s so important that I was able to do that, and it’s a story that’s worth sharing,” Conyers said.
“I know that my life is my own, but I know that people will listen to that.
They’ll listen to the story that I’m telling.”
In an interview on the Senate floor on Jan. 6, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting transgender people from serving in the U.S. military.
Trump’s order also banned federal contractors from using the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.
It was widely reported that Conyers was transgender when he announced his transition in July of last year.
Conys wife, Barbara, and children have all publicly acknowledged Conyers transition.
Conyers, who has served as a Michigan lawmaker for 23 years, said that he is also the co-founder of the Michigan chapter of the National Organization for Women, a group that advocates for LGBT equality.
“As a leader for civil rights in Michigan, I have spent a lifetime fighting for civil liberties, equality, and freedom for all Americans,” Conys said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“This is the first time I’ve done anything that is so public about who I am as a person.
I have never been afraid to share who I really am and who I believe in and what I stand for, but this is the most public and I think it’s the most courageous way to do it.”
In the past year, Conys family has faced numerous challenges as the U-M campus has been placed under lockdown and the university announced the removal of all transgender students from the campus in an effort to protect the safety of all students.
Conys family also has faced criticism for a statement he made in March in which he described being transgender as a “man thing” that he would never do.
He told BuzzFeed’s Kate Snow that he felt “manly” and “masculine” and that he “just felt like I needed to embrace it.”
Conyers family, however, told BuzzFeed that he was speaking from his heart and that his transgender family had no issue with him changing his gender.
“The family of John Conys has been very open about the transgender community,” his wife, Donna Conyers-Conyers, told the outlet.
“It’s a man thing.
He was born male, he was raised male, and he feels that way.”
Conys transition was a big moment for his family and he said he feels fortunate to have such support.
“We’re very grateful to our friends and family for all their support,” Conyer said.
“It has been a very, very, long journey for us.
And for the people that have supported us, it has been extremely rewarding.
It’s been a roller coaster ride.
But I feel blessed to have been part of that journey.”