My name is Jersey Rodriguez, I am a trans masculine person and my pronouns are They/Them. My passion is to raise awareness, work towards ending stigmas and our silence, and empower our diverse community and workforce.
I was born and raised in New Jersey, to a diverse family-Italian, Puerto Rican, Filipino and Asian. I did not have a functional upbringing and have fought for the life I have envisioned for myself since I was 5 years old. I finally began my transition journey October 17th, 2020 at 27 years old! My life is far from perfect but the chaos of life has become my breath of fresh air – because I fought to swim. Something commonly said about me is, “Jersey, you are a force to be reckoned with.”
The most significant and only consistent relationship in my life has been my relationship with my grandmother who saved me from the foster care system and so much more. My grandmother somehow managed to tame an angry 14 year old kid, and she stepped up where my biological parents fell short. She took on the role of a mother, father, sister, mentor, best friend and so much more; my grandma is my lifeline and has encouraged me to pass on the knowledge that she has given to me. I believe that every individual I connect with and influence becomes an extension of myself.
I am the first in my family working to break the cycle of generational trauma and the first to earn a college degree (Criminal Justice). There have been many individuals throughout my life trying to write my story from start to finish, and I took that power away from them so I could write my own story.
Like a lot of the youth I have worked with, I grew up in a system that always said, “It is in the best interest of the child,” without genuine concern or care for my well-being and safety. This negatively impacted me from an early age. To finally have the opportunity to be part of the union has only continued to ignite the fierce advocate that has always been within me.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead uncomfortable conversations because it leads to clarity and unity. It teaches me to be mindful to not dehumanize those I disagree with. Because there is always a chance that our self-righteousness can easily turn us into the things we dislike in others. I did not want to allow the hatred in others to destroy the kindness within myself.