Morgan Mayfire had just $20 in his pocket and a small suitcase of clothes when he fled Florida at age 14 to escape the abuse of his mother. He found himself in New York, where he ended up settling on a bench in Central Park in the freezing, snowy cold without socks or a jacket. He drifted into a restless sleep, with no hope or plans to wake up.
He was awakened by James, a Black Latino gay man who was rubbing Mayfire’s hands together to provide him some warmth. James assured Mayfire that he was safe and that he, too, identified as gay.
Mayfire, who is a multiracial Latine trans man, told his mom when he was 6 years old that he was different, but, during the 1980s, he didn’t have the language to fully explain his identity. Mayfire’s mother at the time deemed him a lesbian, but that label never truly felt right and he struggled for decades to understand where he fit.
“It was an epiphany that the world would never know who I am,” Mayfire, 64, said in an interview Friday. “They would only know what I was only pretending to be, what I was passing as, but not the real me.”
About a decade ago, Mayfire underwent his transition in Miami. During this time, he discovered that there was a significant lack of Spanish-language information available on trans services and gender-affirming care.
He decided he never wanted anyone to be turned away from access to services, so he began to advocate for more inclusive care and information sharing.
Mayfire and his wife, Ashley, have become co-founders of TransSOCIAL, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating financial and legal obstacles in order to help individuals seeking name and gender marker changes. TransSOCIAL has offered medical referrals, legal assistance and mental health support.
Since its founding in 2016, TransSOCIAL has facilitated over 500 name changes and provided support to more than 1,000 transgender individuals across Florida.
TransSOCIAL’s impact extends beyond the Sunshine State; they actively assist individuals both nationally and internationally.
“Little by little they are taking away our rights,” said Mayfire. “If you are thinking about transitioning or changing your name, do it now and we are here to help.”
Gisselle Medina is currently pursuing a master’s degree at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism working to hone in their skills in investigative and multimedia journalism. They aspire to produce interactive stories that reflect our dynamic world. Reach them at fiercewriter [at] Berkeley [dot] edu or on @GisselleeMedina.