When I embarked on reading the memoir Flight of the Beautiful Lie, I knew that it was about a transgender woman, Jasmine Christine Ford, and her transition, but I really had no idea of the scope of her story. Born James Otis Ford (nicknamed Jof) into poverty and violence, Jasmine’s backstory belies the glamorous image she projects on social media. The distance between who she is today and where she started can be measured in trauma and struggle, and it is a blessing she even survived.

Having grown up a black gay male with a stutter who was sexually molested, brutally raped and otherwise abused, then later became transgender and spent decades as a sex worker, Jasmine offers a no-holds-barred peek “behind the curtain” into a totally different world than many of us know. And what a vicious and scary world it can be. 

“I was intimately acquainted with shame, sadness, and loss by the time I was seven years old,” writes the author. We can all relate to how our childhood experiences can shape us — in both good and bad ways — but what Jasmine had to deal with was way beyond what anyone should have to go through. It takes a very strong person to be able to overcome such devastating childhood and life experiences. And she recounts it all with brave and brutal honesty. 

QUEST FOR PEACE

While Jasmine has found hope and peace with who she is and where she’s been, the processing of it all still is bare and raw and even, at times, shocking. In this way, though, she permits us to go into the most vulnerable corners of those experiences. Writes Jasmine, “The life that God gave us is designed to challenge us in the most unconventional and uncomfortable ways imaginable. The notion of health, wellness, mind, body and spirit requires us to do the work. The kind of work and amount of work isn’t the same for everyone. I myself hadn’t done the work for a very long time; thus, the writing of this book.”

The book opens with a powerful poem, written by the author, called “Sin.” Jasmine includes several other beautifully written poems throughout, adding another layer of insight into her thoughts and feelings. Along the way, Jasmine’s memoir touches on many important topics, including racism, sexuality, gender identity, religion, sexual abuse, LGBTQ communities, multigenerational families, inner-city life, the call-girl lifestyle, prejudice and discrimination. 

“The most challenged individuals, I have found, offer the most profound and grounding advice if given the opportunity,” writes Jasmine, and nowhere does the truth of this become more apparent than in her book. Despite the atrocities of Jasmine’s life and the multitude of challenges she faced, she has grown through them with introspection, self-compassion and breakthrough insight. One particularly poignant example:

“… It was unfair to myself and others to expect something from someone that they simply did not have. Applying that concept in my life as it related to my transition made it easier to let go of friends and family who didn’t have it in themselves to accept me, for whatever unknown reason. That burden … ought to be theirs to carry, not mine.” 

BUMPY ROAD TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE

The Flight of the Beautiful Lie is a tough journey for sure, but it is also one of true triumph, as Jasmine finally finds self-worth and happiness while recreating her life as a woman. Today, Jasmine is a registered nurse working in HIV/AIDS care and support services; she has also served as an appointed commissioner on the Washington D.C. Regional Planning Commission on Health and HIV. She says, “And now I can finally declare with surety that I know who I am.”

As for why she chose to write her story at this time, Jasmine says that “people needed to hear a different narrative about the trans experience that didn’t end in tragedy, but could be utilized as a beautiful beacon of hope, light and love for all the world to see.” Jasmine’s story could very well have ended much differently, but fortunately for us, it didn’t.

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About Jasmine Christine Ford:

Jasmine Christine Ford is a Black, trans woman who states that it is a miracle she is still alive. She is a survivor of early childhood abandonment, chronic sexual abuse and an internal battle between homosexuality, transgenderism and her Christian faith. Flight of the Beautiful Lie: A Memoir is Ford’s first book, which details how she overcame various physical and mental struggles. She hopes her writing will inspire others in similar situations to keep fighting.