Eight years ago Brooke Guinan came out as a trans woman while working for the New York City Fire Department; and every year since then she has marched in the NYC Pride parade, though this year she’ll be featured as the Grand Marshall of the parade.
But even with these “firsts” Guinan was “shocked” to receive an email from NYC Pride asking her to be the Grand Marshall; she thought it was a mistake.
“I didn’t expect it. I am super flattered. It’s an amazing honor. It’s very rare in the everyday life of a trans person to feel valued or to feel appreciated in society, I look forward to the pride march every year. It’s nice to be around your people, your LGBTQ family―to really feel like you can let loose and not have to worry about judgment.”
Guinan, a third generation FDNY firefighter, says coming out as trans in her 20s, while working in a profession with a “very macho culture”, was nerve-wracking.
“There have been certain points in time where things were difficult, but I’ve never felt a lack of support from my family ... [FDNY], in general, has been very supportive of me and a lot of the visibility campaigns that I’ve done.”
Guinan came out as gay at age 12, but it wasn’t until she took a gender studies course in college that she realized she was transgender. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, but changed course and became a firefighter.
“Joining the fire department was sort of a last ditch effort to prove my masculinity and that I could be a man. That didn’t work very well seeing as how I finally came out as trans. I think joining the fire department may have actually worked out in the opposite way, and been like the last straw for me to finally accept my identity.”
Guinan will be joined at NYC Pride this year by her mother and father—a firefighter for over forty years—who will mark their first time at Pride; she will also be joined by her husband.
Guinan, who now works as LGBTQ outreach coordinator for the FDNY, feels that by coming out as trans, and becoming the first trans Grand Marshall, she can make a huge impact in the lives of so many people.
“At the end of the day, I really just feel like I’m living my life. I don’t necessarily understand why it gets so much attention. But if that attention can be used for good ... and can be used to promote the education and betterment of other trans people then I feel like it’s my responsibility to do that.”
All it takes is one person taking that first step for others to become inspired to follow along. And with the numbers of trans women murdered in this country growing every single day, we need more visibility for them; we need people to realize trans women, and trans men, are a part of the fabric of our world, and not just the LGBTQ parts either.
Thanks to Brooke Guinan, for her bravery in all aspects of her life, and congratulations Grand Marshall!