Visibili-T is dedicated to transgender members of our community in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, some you know and many you don’t. It is designed to amplify their voices and detail their experiences in life.
This issue, we check in with St. Petersburg native Elliott Darrow, a longtime environmental and animal welfare advocate who enjoys challenging himself with LEGO. He currently works as a veterinary technician, a role he loves even if “people have no idea how much veterinary technicians do.”
“From phlebotomy, radiology, dermatology, microbiology, ultrasound, dental hygienists and so much more, we help aid doctors in taking care of animals from nose to tail,” he explains. “I’m passionate about wildlife and conservation and just like human medicine, animal medicine is constantly evolving and growing. You never stop learning in this field.”
Darrow currently works at a facility specializing in care for cats and dogs but hopes to extend his efforts to exotic animals again. His background includes work as an educator at The Florida Aquarium and he also spent time in Costa Rica at a rehabilitation and release rescue center.
The facility primarily treated Howler monkeys, but also worked with species like Capuchin monkeys, Lovebirds, Macaws and more. “I miss working in the jungle,” Darrow says.
Animals aren’t the only thing Darrow has invested in over the years. For St Pete Pride 2019, he designed a commemorative T-shirt provided to registrants of the annual TransPride March; the design depicted the word “trans” in the shape of a heart in the colors of the transgender Pride flag.
He was also a proud participant in the inaugural class of Equality Florida’s TransAction Leadership Academy. The program was designed to train and develop the next generation of transgender or gender nonbinary leaders in LGBTQ+ advocacy.
“I’m always a call away to speak at schools, hospitals, teach-ins and luncheons,” Darrow says of the experience. “I educate groups and employees on a variety of LGBTQ+ topics. I like to use my voice most to emphasize the need for transgender safe spaces, language and care.”
It’s part of what led him to participate in Visibili-T. He says the feature “gives a peek into the reality that transgender people all have different interests, passions and goals.”
“We don’t all look a certain way or transition in the same way,” Darrow explains. “One common misconception or question I get asked is, ‘when are you done transitioning?’ and there is no ‘done.’ Transgender people don’t have to be on or want Hormone Replacement Therapy or have surgery to identify as one thing or another.”
Darrow notes that while his own journey has included HRT, it hasn’t in more than two years. He cites his understanding that routine care is required and the anti-transgender legislation targeting Floridians like him.
“With recent laws put in place it’s not only hard to find someone to give you care, but to find doctors who are appropriately trained to provide safe and good care,” he says. “I have found it difficult to find a doctor who is both affordable and listens to my concerns.
“Most doctors are not trained in school about how to talk to or treat transgender patients,” he continues. “Often times it is part of optional training, and those who opt in for it are queer themselves or have someone close to them who identify as LGBTQ+ … Big shout out to all the LGBTQ+ professionals in the world who have had to kick down walls and barriers to get to where they are.”
That drive is one of Darrow’s favorite things about Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ+ community.
“We are determined to be heard and be seen,” he says. “I hope one day it’s enough to help others see us and see our needs — and I hope that it inspires people to vote for policies that protect and aid all members of our community, including transgender and queer identifying individuals.”
When looking to the future, Darrow’s main hope is happiness.
“I preach that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s fear,” he says. “People are afraid of the unknown and to some, the unknown is LGBTQ+ people … I just want to exist and be genuinely and openly happy.”
Interested in being featured in Visibili-T? Email Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Williams in Central Florida or Managing Editor Ryan Williams-Jent in Tampa Bay.