NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – June is Pride Month, and as we approach this weekend’s festivities, those in the LGBTQ+ community call on people to have calm conversations about who they are and their contributions to society.

Dahron Johnson admitted, that when people meet her, she typically receives the same reaction.

“Oh, Dahron,” she said while leaning back and touching her chest, mimicking what she sees.

It’s what people do next that changes the course of the encounter.

“There’s a worry that with every person in every moment, they might be the one who still believes that I am the menace and the threat,” Johnson said.

She believes those reactions are born of fear of the unknown. Yet, Johnson reiterated transgender people are not a new trendy social phenomenon as some suggest, rather more widespread acceptance has allowed for more visibility. Johnson explained her journey began as an adolescent.

“9,10,11 years old,” she said.

But societal “norms” made her feel staying quiet was best.

“I call my prior transition years my disguise years,” Johnson said. “Those are my years of being in guy drag all that time.”

Three years ago, she made the transition and has advocated for LGBTQ+ rights since.

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Alex Denis: “When you testified on capitol hill, what reaction did you receive?”

Dahron Johnson: “Representative Reagan stood four to five feet from me in the General Assembly this year and said that the existence of trans folks is an absurdity. I am not an atrocity, I am not an absurdity. I am not the monster that every stereotype trotted forward by some folks makes us out to be.”

Denis: “What would you say to those who think your mere existence dilutes the traditional family?”

Johnson: “My wife and I have been together for almost 25 years married. We’ve been together 27. We’ve been through surgeries and illness. We’ve been together through the joys of adoption. If those things don’t define what family should be about, then what are we holding up as the definition of family?”

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Allowing people to be their true selves, she says, benefits not just inter-personal relationships but our community. She welcomes the chance to have more meetings where people lean in instead of away and say, “Hello, it’s lovely to meet you. How great it is to see … you.”