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Maura Edith Raymond
Director of Beverage at Amélie's French Bakery & Cafe — Charlotte, North Carolina

I live small triumphs every day, living as my authentic self. When I started transitioning I thought there would be a big rollercoaster moment like, "Oh, now I’m transitioned. Cool!” A common misconception is that it's a straight line. But there are small victories, hardships, triumphs and setbacks along the way. 

Moving to France is a dream of mine because I've been there a couple of times and not to sound pretentious, but I am homesick for it when I am back in the States. The pace, the culture, the food, the everything-I-adore. My father's side of the family is French and I studied the French language in school. I'm not sure what it is, or how to define it, but there is an ease to life in Europe, in my experience. I felt a freedom and safety in just being myself which I do not feel in the United States. There wasn't an inherent need to explain or validate my existence. I could just be. Gender identity and sexual orientation was a non-issue which is so refreshing. There is a tangible energy there that is just magic. I hope to live there one day–a girl can dream!

The time that I felt most validated in my life was when my parents said my name for the first time.

 

I've been thrifting and collecting housewares for as long as I can remember. I have always had a fascination with things that get left behind. I used to sell antiques at an antique mall if that tells you anything! I am always on the hunt for personalized mugs, I have way too many. I feel like they are like kittens in a shop window and I need to give them all a good home in my cupboard, not that I would put a kitten in a cupboard. I love that they belonged to someone else and I can pick up where they left off.

My home is definitely where I spend most of my time and how it looks really reflects how I am feeling. Consider it a mood ring. The color palette in my home is absolutely inspired by French Lutetian limestone which I like to pair with raw wood, marble and tawny shades. My home is almost 100 years old and definitely has its quirks, but I love it so. If I ever move it will be motivated by a tub, I want a clawfoot soaking tub!

I have always had a fascination with things that get left behind.

I try to be pragmatic when it comes to clothes. All black is an easy uniform for me to adhere to. Vintage is a huge staple–I am always thrifting and looking for new pieces. You had me at flouncy sleeve!

If I could create a change in the world? Oof, such a heavy, important question! The first thing that comes to mind is tolerance. I wonder what the world would look like if people truly, as a baseline, tolerated and respected one another. No questions, no judgement. 

The nicest thing anyone has ever done for me has to be contributing to my surgery fund. Medically transitioning is so incredibly expensive and there are virtually no options for financing other than the generosity of others or your own pocket. I am so thankful for the folks who have donated so far. 

I've learned so many lessons–usually the hard way. The one that seems to be the most beneficial is about time and energy. Invest your time into things that you are passionate about. Relationships, art, work. I have felt most fulfilled nurturing the projects and humans I care about rather than trying to please and placate everyone and do all of the things.