Stacy Nathaniel Jackson is a true success story within the African-American LGBTQ movement. His gift for artistic expression is at the heart of everything he does. What you are about to read is the life and ongoing legacy of a true test of character. One that continues to define and shape himself and others to this very day.
Before graduating from the Haas School of Business in 1990, Stacy applied to USC in the hopes of following in his father’s footsteps. The son of an engineer, Stacy was very confident in his ability to get accepted into USC so much so that he only applied to one school.
He, of course, got in (although he would never recommend this today) and from there, he started his journey by first attempting a psychology major. However, Stacy would find that this wasn’t the direction he wanted to go in.
This direction would eventually change, and Stacy found himself in the studio arts where he then transitioned to the graduate school of the University of Arizona. But this didn’t last long.
The Beginning of the Arts
Stacy would leave graduate school to return to Los Angeles, his place of birth. Here, he would find work with the LA Times, working in the customer service department. This would eventually lead him to a job at HBO, where he was part of their sales and marketing team.
Already, you can see where his life in the arts began taking shape. Thankfully, Stacy was mentored by some influential people who directed him to go to business school, where he did really well by going above and beyond applying himself.
Continuing to work hard, as he has all his life, Stacy would find the desire to continue to be challenged (#studentalways), both academically and artistically. Although his background was not quantitatively heavy, he took it upon himself to take extra classes to make sure he was prepared for business school.
A Need for Challenge
From there, Stacy would take on another challenge. Working for Pepsi Cola as their senior business planner. Throughout all of the jobs that Stacy held, it wouldn’t be until after graduating from Haas that he decided to make the transition to male.
For someone who began their schooling at Ramona Convent College Preparatory School for Girls, making the bold declaration to transition in the 90s was nothing short of brave.
Problems Arise in Alumni Relations
To do so in those times was often met with resistance by large institutions, including universities.
Problems arose when he decided to change his legal name and get the change reflected on all documents in his life. There were rules and regulations in place he followed, including a driver’s license, social security, and his diplomas. Informal correspondence was much more difficult.
An Attempt for Change
This upset Stacy since he had sent several letters and emails in an attempt to get his legal name change resolved in alumni mailings at USC and Haas development offices for over twenty years; his legal status as male was well established. Gender confirmation on documents impacting a person’s employment and financial life is critical for several reasons. Privately, this negatively impacted any financial support to his alma maters. Follow-up went unanswered for years until he took the opportunity to confide in a senior director of alumni relations, a colleague at UCSF who was well known and respected in California’s alumni relations development community. Two phone calls by an ally were all it took to make the name change happen
By Stacy continually voicing his displeasure for all of the hoops he was forced to jump through, he was finally able to meet with someone who would actually listen to his plight. It wasn’t like this was something new that Stacy decided to do on a whim.
Stacy had known his true identity since the age of five. One can imagine the internal struggle that waged on within Stacy throughout his life before and after Haas. His thought was to always keep his transition private.
But this was not to be. Stacy would eventually become a voice for the voiceless within the LGBTQ movement. He just didn’t know it yet.
A True Calling
In his younger years, he never thought of his transitioning as something to be shared with others. But as he got older, the more evident it became to him that his story could be used to help others in similar situations, especially those within the African-American transgender community.
Stacy’s ability to express himself in various forms of art is certainly responsible for his ability to resonate with those who aren’t accustomed to or familiar with the LGBTQ community.
A Champion’s Background
This became such an impassioned mission for Stacy that he would eventually serve on various boards, from mayoral appointee of the San Francisco Transgender Civil Rights Implementation Task Force, UCSF Chancellor’s GBLT Advisory Committee, and San Francisco LGBT Community Center Project.
Stacy is also the former inaugural board president of one of the leading transgender and queer performing arts nonprofits, Fresh Meat Productions. It is because of his passionate drive to help impact the lives of fellow transgender and queer people that have led Stacy to such an experienced background.
What was once thought to be a private change in his life would turn out to be an incredible outpouring of support for others just like him. It is of the utmost importance that there be an alliance for those who are coming to terms with their transgender identity.
The Need for an Alliance
African-Americans who are transitioning perhaps need that support more so than others. And for this reason, Stacy has developed a drive to be the very best in all avenues of life It is this drive that has earned Stacy an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, his graduate coursework in sculpture at the University of Arizona, and a BAFA in Studio Arts from the University of Southern California.
These kinds of commendations don’t come easily. Each one is a testament to Stacy’s determination to be the very best he can be, regardless of the obstacles that have occasionally popped up in his life. Being an “out” transmasculine African-American in the 1990s was queer in the literal sense of the word, and certainly not celebrated on the diversity continuum. . Stacy worked through anything in his path to become the true success story that he is today. It is his goal to push for public policies that serve to recognize and accommodate all transgender people, regardless of color or orientation.
Stacy never considered himself an activist early on in his life. But as things would unfold throughout his various careers and education, it became clear that this was the task that he would have to take on for the betterment of everyone in the LGBT community.
Thanks to Stacy’s penchant for speaking and writing eloquently, as well as his bent for artistic expression, it lends to his voice being heard more clearly. Perhaps it is for these reasons that Stacy is as well-regarded as a leader in the LGBTQ movement.
Stacy feels that each transgender situation is unique. Each person will deal with different challenges in the workplace and in life. It’s important to surround oneself with equally open people to foster alliances and hopefully create equitable change where needed for everyone.
But it’s clear that not every career or educational venture will be met with open people on all sides. Anytime a transgender person decides to come out, it’s going to affect those around them. Whether family, friends, coworkers, or classmates, people are going to be affected by your decision.
It’s important to give everyone time to adjust to your decision. At times, it might be natural to become impatient with certain people. But you need to remember to give them space and time for this to see itself to a mutually beneficial resolution if possible. Only time will tell.
Stacy maintains that transparency is key. It is unfortunately common to misgender someone who has recently transitioned. It’s important that you become an ally and work to minimize microaggressions that can occur within the transgender community.
Now at the age of 60, Stacy continues to work as an artist, author, and activist. His published work has been seen in Lodestar Quarterly, Black Arts Quarterly, New American Writing, and Foglifter, just to name a few.
Throughout his life, Stacy was building toward helping others, even when he didn’t know it. His hard work and dedication is responsible for helping change the perspective of both those on the inside of the LGBTQ community, as well as those on the outside.
It is evident when looking back on Stacy’s life and careers that he has continually fought for equality and fairness for transgender people. It is because of his patience and determination that he has seen the successes in his life. And with such drive and compassion, there is certainly more success to follow.
Listen to His Podcast Episode
The need for acceptance and change is needed now more than ever. With the help of influential people like Stacy, this change can happen. For more information on Stacy’s life and background in the LGBT movement, check out this podcast.