During Black History Month, we’re showcasing books by some incredible authors to celebrate Black voices in literature. And this week’s highlighted book, I Have Always Been Me by Precious Brady-Davis, is a bold coming-of-age and coming-of-self story set in a familiar locale. Born and raised in Omaha, Brady-Davis serves as the director of communications at the Sierra Club, a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, and an LGBT+ and HIV activist. She was the first publicly out transgender woman on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and was featured on another TLC show, “My Pregnant Husband: documenting her and her husband’s journey to having a child together as a trans couple.
Precious was often the odd one out in her family and her Omaha community. Assigned as male at birth and growing up being perceived as one, she knew that her innate femininity was leading to bullying and unwanted attention. Being moved around between family members, foster care, and schools, it wasn’t until she started attending UNL that Precious began performing drag and was able to embrace the more authentic side of herself. During her education, Precious found her talent and love for diversity and inclusion advocacy through local programs and support from her peers and teachers. However, she had to reckon with her empathy and love for all people with what she was taught at home and in church. Precious recounts her intimate relationship with religion that shaped her youth and how it led to her continued ostracization by people she felt the closest to due to her gender nonconformity. And her reckoning between these two worlds that seemed so disparate is found to be fundamentally a part of her person. Eventually moving to Chicago to finish school at Columbia College, Precious continued to find and foster her queer identity, finally coming to herself as a trans woman and devoting her life to advocacy work, eventually falling in love and fully cementing her foundation for an incredible future ahead.
I Have Always Been Me is a well-known tale of how a person can desperately search for a community as a child but be turned away at every corner. And it isn’t until they are introduced to the world of unconditional acceptance that they finally have the tools to escape survival mode to grow and flourish. While the subject may be new, the story will feel familiar to members of an adult or mature young-adult book group and can open the floor to discussion on the different ways people can be made to feel like outsiders and how vital community support is for disenfranchised young people. Stories like Brady-Davis’s are pivotal in normalizing and loving trans people, especially Black Trans women in Nebraska. Reading the interpersonal stories of affected people, like with any other minority group, lends a bigger picture to the conversation in ways only literature can and showcases the incredible resilience needed to simply be yourself.
If you’re interested in requesting I Have Always Been Me for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form here. There are 10 copies available (A librarian must request items)
To see more of our Black Voices book club titles, visit here
Brady-Davis, Precious. I Have Always Been Me. TOPPLE Books. 2021.