TLJ-VT: Tell me about your favorite charity.
IMsL Contestant tabitha: My favorite charity is the one I have created called #AskMe. #AskMe is a network of transgender people, their supporters, and allies in the leather, fetish and kink community. We are here to create awareness of what it means to be transgender.
Even though our community is very open and accepting, people still have questions. Someone may be questioning themselves; how they identify and not know where to go. Someone may be new to our community and may have questions about what it is to be transgender.
#AskMe is a way to start the conversation. With the #AskMe pin, we can begin to open doors in a easy and comfortable manner. #AskMe is a gateway to answer questions that someone may have about what it is to be transgender. #AskMe can help many learn how to be a friend, partner, or ally.
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TLJ-VT: ell me in your own words how you feel about community service.
IMsL Contestant tabitha: Community service is about energy and what you put into it. I think many people are intimidated by the word service, I know I certainly was. Believing that they may not be able to do as much as others. Service can be as simple as showing up and being part of your community. Use something that you are good at to help the community. I am a graphic artist so I offer my services for local and national events. Just get out there and be a part of your community. I find great joy in helping out and taking the lead to get a job done to the best of my abilities.
TLJ-VT: What makes you a Leather Woman and/or Bootblack?
IMsL Contestant tabitha: Being a bootblack is the center of my leather journey. Being a bootblack has been a life changing experience. It has given me a voice in my leather community and allowed me to grow. It has helped me be the transgender leather woman that I am today.
TLJ-VT: Who is your favorite Leather Woman…Why?
IMsL Contestant tabitha: There is no other favorite Leatherwoman than my Owner, MasterLady LJ. She has been the most pivotal person in my life. When I came into this leather life I was scared and not even sure who I really was as a person. She helped me along my journey. Pushed me when I needed to be pushed. Held me when I needed to be held and has let me fly when I was ready to fly. She is my biggest cheerleader and is always there for me, as I am for her. While being a private person, She can light a room when She walks in to it. She is the love of my life! I am so thankful for Her.
TLJ-VT: What do you feel is the most dangerous mis-information passed through traditional & social media affecting our community today, and how would you combat it should the opportunity arise?
IMsL Contestant tabitha: Being transgender myself, this issues is close to me. Even in our own community, many people see being transgender as nothing more than issue of sexuality, when it is really more about gender identity. Educating people through #AskMe will help to create a positive step to helping transgender people become a more accepted group in our society as a whole. Some of the best conversations about being transgender have been while bootblacking. Education and acceptance is the key. Three key words important to be an ally.
Listen – Being open conversation if someone wants to talk about their gender. It also mean respecting someone who does not want to talk about their transition
Learn – You are willing to take the time learn about transgender issues. Perhaps read a book like Whipping Girl by Julia Serano or read news articles that you may normally pass over. Be cognizant of transgender people in your life
Advocate – Support transgender rights when it comes to healthcare, jobs, and those annoying bathroom laws they try to pass. If you hear something derogatory towards a transgender person, speak up in support.
TLJ-VT: In 100 words or less what will you do as IMsL or IMsBB to promote your title?
IMsL Contestant tabitha: I want to expand on what it is to be a Leatherwoman and a Bootblack. I want to advocate for the leather women's community by representing them as a transgender woman. I want the honor to represent the IMsL/IMsBB foundation to thank them for what it has given me for the last six years. I want to create a greater awareness and educate the larger leather community about what it is to be transgender with #AskMe.
TLJ-VT: What do you say to those who feel that the Title system is outdated and no longer necessary?
IMsL Contestant tabitha: The title system is a tradition in our community. They give our communities identity and purpose. Leather titles are a personal journey. Running for IMsBB has been one of the factors that have allowed me to be the leatherwoman that I am today. They challenge the individual to be a better person. But, it is about what you do with the title after you earn it. Are you going to just look pretty on stage or are you going to use the power of a title? Having a title can give you a larger audience to talk about something that is passionate to you.