Freedom. Free dome, — A liberated mind. As the word jostles around in my head, I hear 46 year old Mahogony Phillips’ own definition coming to the forefront: “Freedom is being relatable.” Identity has always been a focus of mine.

As other people struggle with what that means in my country of Jamaica, I do experience a kind of drawback that being Jamaican can have especially when standing in front of the United States Immigration at JFK Airport.

The idea that I am at the mercy of another person’s opinion and discretion always crosses my mind.I am always ushered to a room where my papers are scrutinized and checked. The idea that I am at the mercy of another person’s opinion and discretion always crosses my mind.

To avoid this I simply have to become an American citizen. So identity, and being Jamaican, and all that it means, are always a part of how I think, feel, and speak.

It is from this sensibility that I see the world and try to interpret it. That said, identity is a highly controversial topic in Jamaica. Born Ronald Phillips, but not feeling comfortable in his skin, is why Mahogony decide to start her transitioning. “I waited until 2007 because I wanted to be sure. I cannot be someone who I am not.

Ronald is not me. I thank God for the strength to go through this change. It means happiness to me.” Mahogony said that transitioning does not mean big hair and pantyhose, but rather the ability to fully live the way she feels in her heart.

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