Student-Activist Jahaira DeAlto: “It’s Important to Be Visible”
Jahaira DeAlto • Pittsfield, MA

When it comes to living in Massachusetts, Jahaira DeAlto says there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.

“Massachusetts is this glorious amalgamation of the old and the new; it’s an experiential area unlike any other. If you’re someone who thrives in a fast-paced city, it offers that. If you enjoy a more picturesque, Rockwellian experience, it offers that. It fills me with pride to be in a state at the helm in a lot of transgender rights and in marriage equality.”

A transgender woman of color who began her transition at 16, Jahaira is a student at Berkshire Community College and also does intersectional advocacy and activism in areas of gender, race, and sexuality — work she calls multifaceted. One of the biggest parts of her work is helping to, in her words, “normalize” the transgender experience for those who might be unaware of what the community endures on a daily basis.

“It’s important to be visible,” she said. “It is still vitally important we leverage our privilege to provide educational opportunities for people to learn more. The more we humanize ourselves for those who don’t think they’ve encountered a transgender person, the more we’re able to remove the stigma and fear surrounding the perception of what trans people are. Education is our greatest weapon against ignorance. After having the experience of meeting Jahaira DeAlto, you can no longer say you’ve never met a trans person.”

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