My name is MX (pronounce Mix) Leo Williams and I am a social justice artivist, lover, friend and a griot. Yes, I am a non-binary, queer, polyamorous, black person living in Jamaica and living my truth, and I am so much more.
Since my first letter to the editor in 2017, I have been a voice for local and regional issues affecting my trans siblings living in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean and dedicated myself to creating work to elevate and amplify the narratives of people like me. My journey to living my truth openly started from that letter, which resulted in me becoming a career advocate working with organizations in Jamaica, starting at J-FLAG, Equality Youth and now, TransWave Jamaica.
TransWave is Jamaica’s first NGO committed to promoting and advocating for the health and wellbeing of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary folks living in Jamaica. I currently serve as the Associate Director of Communications & Outreach, where I lead an amazing team of creatives and responsive team members who seek to create safe spaces for trans persons to feel affirmed online and offline. Our programming is primarily focused on policy, advocacy and research as well, which includes lobbying and developing policy initiatives to address the economic, social and cultural issues faced by our community.
The work being done in Jamaica is the reason I wake up every single day. It starts from just opening my eyes and seeing the city I will have to face to wondering what I will wear to feel safe yet affirmed to actually walking the streets in fear almost every day. But if I have to die from protecting myself and not living in my truth, then what is this life and for whom do I live for? Is it the community that thinks that I made it because now I now have a level of privilege and access that I never dreamed of? Or is it me?
I’ve never wanted to be exceptional. I just want to do great things and leave this earth with knowing that somehow, between that first letter in 2017 and to the point I die, there was some change and many of my dreams that I had for this small island were true. I take pride in knowing that I am contributing to this space and always have. Monica’s legacy deserves to be carried forward and I am just overwhelmed and proud to be able to contribute to building on it. I stand on the shoulders of my black, trans womxn, mxn, my non-binary kindred who ran so I could walk and therefore, I have to be present and full to reconcile the wrongs against my siblings in the struggle for liberation, knowing that this strange land is my home. I want to write stories that exemplify hope, speaking truth to power by dismantling oppressive systems that have little regard for our liberation and I need to thrive in a world that has disregarded us.
In love and liberation,
MX Leo (they/them)