LGBTQ Human Rights Coalition
Teryl Lynn Foxx was born Terry Sanders August 18, 1958 to parents David and Louise P. Sanders. She is the fourth of five children. Terry is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and a graduate of the Orleans Parish School System. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of New Orleans in Speech Education.
Introduced to the art of female impersonation in her early twenties. Terry found an outlet to express her creative side and an avenue to open up and release her authentic self. A legendary lady named Teryl Lynn Foxx was soon introduced to the world.
After several years of entertaining Teryl Lynn Foxx discovered the world of pageantry. Some of the highlights of her career and titles she would go on to win included Miss Louisiana US of A 1991, becoming a top finalist at Miss US of A, Miss Continental and Miss Black Universe. She is a former Miss Liberty International, Miss Clique and the reigning Miss Essence International Classic.
Teryl Lynn Foxx serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana US of A and The Heavenly Pageantry Systems. She is a member of the First Emanuel Baptist Church of New Orleans where she is an active member of the music industry.
Teryl Lynn Foxx's career has spanned the decades and still she remains an iconic figure in the entertainment industry. Nothing has slowed her down. She has never lost sight of who she is, or where she started and thus has earned her the respect of family, friends and fans worldwide.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in New Orleans.
At what age did you realize that you were transgender?
I didn't realize I was transgender until recently. (Laughs) In the past we were considered pre or post operative transsexual. Growing up I was an effeminate little boy having a small framed body, with a high pitched voice .
How did your parents react to the news and how did it affect your family relationships?
When I was going through my transition and hormone therapy, I distanced myself from my family because I did not know how they would accept it and react to it. It was not until the passing of my grandmother. She was the only one to see me during my transition. I would sit with her during the day because I normally worked at night while the other family members worked during the day . When I knew that someone was coming home through the front door, I made my exit through the back. When she passed I attended her funeral dressed in a white suit and a large cabbage rose (looking ever so lovely) arm and arm with my partner . What a double whammy. There I was dressed and introducing my family to Teryl-Lynn and my lover. The love that was shown to me was amazing. And just think, all the years of missed family gatherings because I assumed they wouldn't understand.
You transitioned at an early age. Can you tell our readers the differences between living as a transgender woman “Then” to living as a transgender woman “Now”?
Things are so different now. In the past being transgender was difficult. We had to be concerned about being "clocked" or someone knowing our "tea". We were only able to work the streets, the bars or at a hair salon . Today there are so many opportunities. Today it's okay to say "I'M TRANSGENDER!"
Many transgender women begin their careers on stage and many continue on with it. What aspect of performing on stage makes you keep coming back to it?
I think what keeps me wanting to be on stage is the glitz and glamour of it all . I love doing illusions it can give people a closeness to an entertainer that they may never experience. My favorite illusions are Whitney Houston and Dionne Warrick. I have been known for my illusion of Diana Ross, but I don't see the resemblance . But hey if they see Miss Ross, then Miss Ross it is . That illusion has paid many bills. (Laughs) There was a brief absence from the stage though. Hurricane Katrina and the flood waters destroyed my home and I lost everything but my life. I yearned to get back to the stage but I had to make my home and my life my number one priority. Sheetrock or sheath? Sheetrock won. My return to the stage would be at an appointed time.
Of your many accomplishments throughout your life which means the most to you?
Oh my Goddess! There are so many accomplishments within my life. Putting performing on the back burner, I can say my personal accomplishment would be my life at this present moment. I AM ALIVE! I AM HEALTHY! AM HAPPY! I AM WHOLE! I have had friends who are no long present on Earth and I am still here. Just the thought of that brings tears to my eyes.
I know personally, having worked with you in New Orleans for quite a few years that you're an amazing entertainer and an intelligent, hard-working woman. I learned a lot watching you on stage five nights a week. What advice would you give up and coming entertainers?
There is so much advice to be given to the new comers in the art, but the problem is, they are not listening . They may hear me but they are not listening. Even to my new babies discovering their true identities, they are not listening . My advice to all, entertainers and my transgender sisters, "ONE IS NOT BORN A WOMAN ( ENTERTAINER ). ONE BECOMES A WOMAN THROUGH GROWTH, MATURITY AND EXPERIENCE. It's a process."
Who did you look up to when you first began performing?
When I was introduced to the art of performing, I saw Hot Chocolate, Jimmy Dee, Neomi Simms. Those were the true entertainers of my time. I'm sure many won't remember them.
You are an ICON in New Orleans. You couldn't go anywhere and someone not know your name or who you are there. To me this means that you have worked hard and dedicated yourself to your craft, but are there ever any days where you just want to put HER on the shelf, step back and have just one day of complete anonymity?
Wow. There are people who know Teryl- Lynn and there are many who know Terry Sanders, so there is rarely a time when I can experience total anonymity.
So many young transgender men and women are coming out at an earlier age than most of us did. Why do you think the transgender community has opened up as much as it has?
I think the reason why there are so many transgender women and men coming out at an earlier age than we did, is because are living in a different time. There weren't many role models or people that were openly transgender . It was unheard of because of possible legal and medical repercussions.
In New Orleans the LGBTQIA Community is truly a family. What is the best part of living in New Orleans for you personally?
The best part about living in New Orleans, it's the only life I know. Being born and raised here, strong family roots have been established. I love the culture, the history and most of all New Orleans is known as The Party Capital. We don't need an occasion to throw a party or festival . I am proud to call New Orleans home. Even after Hurricane Katrina some of my family and friends decided to make Texas and Atlanta their new home. But I fought my way back to New Orleans, helping to rebuild the city I call home.
One of the things we hear so much about in politics is that people in the LGBTQIA Community are somehow not God's children...As a woman of faith how does this affect you when they say these things?
Being a woman of Faith, I've wrestled with words beaten into the depths of my being that God hates me and my soul is damned to hell. It was not until I sought a personal relationship with God that I know He loves me, in spite of me. I've come to know that WE all do things that are not pleasing in the sight. WE ALL JUST SIN DIFFERENTLY. The fornicator can't speak ill of the adulator. The adulator can not speak ill of the LGBTQIA. No matter what alterations I physically make, my soul belongs to God. Didn't mean to give a mini sermon, but I serve a God of Love. Of course just like any parent they hate the actions of their children, but they never stop loving them . Amen? Amen!
What words of inspiration can you share with our readers that may help them get through the day?
My words of inspiration to others would be, THIS TOO SHALL PASS . No matter your situation or circumstance never give up on HOPE.
What do you think of the state of the world we live in today and what do you think we need to do to change it?
I may sound like someone's mother or even grandmother, but baby the world isn't what it used to be like 20-30 years ago. Everything is so hurried. Social media and mass communication has impacted the world. Like I said earlier we are living in a different time . Hey, I just got on Facebook. (Laughs)
What are the three most important things in your life today?
The three most important things in my life are, my relationship with God, health, physically and mentally and relationships with family and friends.
Sometimes life can seem to be a bit overwhelming to people with things the way they are today. What do you do when you want to take a step back and have a moment for yourself?
Whenever I need a moment to myself, I turn off all the lights in the house and light lots of candles . Then I run and fill my cast iron bathtub with bath oils and olive oil and lots of hot water. The house is still , no sound of music or television. Then I lay back and whisper, "BE SILENT THE VOICES IN MY HEAD THAT I MAY HEAR THE SPIRIT OF GOD." I'm so at peace.
If you could sum up your life in one sentence what would it be?
I I could sum up my life in one sentence it would be...wow that's a hard question. I would say, "She lived, she loved, what an amazing journey."
What advice can you give to member's of the LGBTQIA Community that they can carry with them in life?
Enjoy the journey. Don't rush the process . Grow! Mature! Experience!
What was the best advice you've ever received?
The best advice I ever received was from my biological mother. I needed to borrow a pair of her patent leather shoes for a fashion show (we wore the same size 9) . She told me no and said,"You wanna be a woman, get your own s**t." Thanks Mom!
So what's next for Miss Teryl Lynn Foxx? What can your fans expect to see soon?
Within the next 3-5 years, I hope that I will have captured the titles Miss Continental Elite and USofA Classic, then I can bow from the stage gracefully . I would focus on opening a bridal consultant and event planner business.
Thank you so much for doing this interview. I have met many people in my life and I just want you to know that I am honored to know you personally. You're an amazing woman and a true legend in the entertainment industry.
Teryl Lynn Foxx's Official Facebook Page
Special Thanks to TiosPhotography.com for images used in this interview of Ms.Teryl Lynn Foxx