Dee Perez is a male-to-female transgender activist in Bushwick, Brooklyn, who grew up there as David Perez. An effeminate child, he was dogged by harassment and bullying for most of his young life and, traumatized, dropped out of high school freshman year and turned to drugs. In his early 20s he met Father John Powis, an activist priest who connected him to a local nonprofit, Make the Road by Walking. There, with the support of the org and Father Powis, David finally felt safe to transition to Dee and founded GLOBE, Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered, to push for change in the very neighborhood she grew up in—which included launching anti-bullying workshops at her old high school. Below is a photo essay I created after spending four months with Dee, charting her remarkable transformation and growth while witnessing the marked impact she's having in Bushwick and citywide.