Dorcas Adedoja is a non-binary trans-masculine individual who proudly hails from Philadelphia, PA and uses she/her/hers or they/them/theirs pronouns. She is a 2014 Gates Millennium Scholar and a double major in Anthropology & Human Biology and Interdisciplinary Studies: Race & Difference at Emory University. Dorcas is passionate about affirming black and LGBTQ+ identity. They love to read, eat, watch Philadelphia Eagles games, mentor younger black and brown youth, and help local organizers do what they are called to in their free time. Dorcas aspires to become a physician that helps make medicine more inclusive for all, but especially more inclusive for LGBTQ+ people of color.
Fellowship Class Year: 2017
Featured Fellow Spotlight
1. What experiences/opportunities lead you to apply to the YP4 Fellowship program?
Dorcas Adedoja: I was having a lot of issues existing on my campus as a first generation college student who also happened to be black and on the gender non-conforming spectrum. I expressed my feelings to a friend and they introduced me to someone who they thought could help, and they happened to be a past YP4 fellow. The former fellow found out that I was involved with a gender non-conforming/trans-led security collective that formed post-Pulse with a mission to center the safety of black and brown transgender and gender non-conforming people at the time, and they told me about the fellowship.
2. What social justice work are you currently doing in your communities, or on your college campuses?
DA: I dealt with a lot of discrimination on campus pre-Trump that led me to pull out of nearly all campus involvement until I graduate in protest. It is important to me to name that before I answer this question because I want students who may be in the same situation to know that if people on campus are not in alignment with your goals, it is possible to work elsewhere. There are people you can connect with off campus who have visions that align with your own. You will be amazed at how much of a difference working with people who build you up makes. Do not waste precious time you that could be spent growing into a better you trying to educate people dedicated to remaining in the dark.
Nonetheless, one of the on-campus commitments I kept was teaching effective college prep, sexual education, and mental health curriculum to Atlanta high school students. Moreover, I plan to help further some research on the health risks of anti-police brutality activism with a mentor I really respect. A thesis surrounding the historical abuses of black transgender and gender non-conforming individuals by the United States’ healthcare system is in the works as well. I am also putting together patient education materials for Grady Memorial Hospital’s Gender Center, a clinic that will provide some medical services to transgender and gender non-conforming people for free in the Atlanta area starting August 2017. I am lined up to do some transcribing for a ZAMI NOBLA study that aims to preserve the oral histories of black lesbians in Atlanta. I am also a member of Southerners on New Ground and do my best to show up for them, along with other local organizers who call me, in the ways they ask me to in my free time.
3. What are you passionate about/what motivates you to do public service?
DA: I am just tired of injustice and passionate about everyone having the right to live life on their own terms as long as they are not hurting others. My main goal is to make healthcare more accessible to black transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States. I want to be sure to say that does not mean working to do so “from the inside” of our current healthcare system. I think it is pretty clear that the system we have now is failing millions of people and needs to be shaken up. I would like to do things on a more global scale, but I have a lot of learning to do before I set that goal.
4. What is the main goal you want to accomplish in your social justice work?
DA: Liberation for all transgender and gender non-conforming people of the African diaspora. When they are free, everyone else will be too.
5. If you could have dinner with any organizer past or present, who would it be?
DA: Blake Brockington. I never got a chance to meet him, but he inspired a lot of people who inspire me. He was also one of the first trans-masculine people I ever saw on the internet, and the only ancestor I am aware of who *actually* looked like me. While there are obviously other black ancestors, not many I know about lived in the United States as trans-masculine during this era. I wish this world was better to Blake, he deserved it.
6. What was the most eye-opening experience for you during your Regional Training?
DA: I went out at night with another fellow and we ran into two other fellows on the way to our destination. We decided to have an impromptu kickback (a kickback is a social gathering where people just chill together). During the session, someone said that the regional training was us living in the world we are working towards in our respective blueprints. It completely blew my mind because they were right. That night and the entire regional training was proof that the world I am working towards is possible.
7.What do you hope to give and what do you hope to gain during your YP4 Fellowship year?
DA: I hope I can give some insight on how to effectively work with non-white, lower income TLGBQ+ community members in the United States and beyond. I would love to learn more about current government, non-profit, and corporate structures because I know those are areas I need to grow in if I want to maximize the effectiveness of my blueprint and other ideas for healthcare.
8.What brings you joy?
DA:Using coupons to scam capitalists out of their own game and save coin. I see couponing and saving money on things I need to survive as reparations. It is also just nice getting things way cheaper than market value originally intended.
9. Where do you think your YP4 training will take you in the future?
DA: Hopefully beyond the United States. I feel my YP4 training is going to give me the skills to critically analyze the way institutions in the United States function, and I hope I could use the same skills to analyze the ways institutions outside of this country operate. That way I will be able to be the best healthcare provider I can be and create alternatives to what currently exists.
10. What do you want to be remembered for?
DA: Existing. People often take the privilege of seeing people like themselves in history for granted. Transgender and gender non-conforming people of the Black diaspora were intentionally wiped out from history across the globe during colonization, which can make the process of maturing feel ridiculously isolating for folks like us. There is currently work being done to reverse the erasure (shout out to Malcolm Shanks et. al.), but I’ll be happy if a younger similarly identified person knows I was here. I hope they find comfort in knowing that a “first generation, US born, Nigerian-American, black identifying, gender non-conforming person” had the audacity to be pre-med and believe they could help a couple of the girls dismantle some things during the Trump era and beyond.