Christa Cunningham: Removing Barriers

Photo by Theo Welling.

From starting a real estate company in New Jersey, to coming out as transgender to her ex-partner of fourteen years, to signing away her business to start a new life in St. Louis, Christa Cunningham’s only constant has been change.

After rebooting her life in 2006, Cunningham, now 49, enrolled at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville (SIUE). In Cunningham’s senior year, she signed up for a social work class that wasn’t even a part of the curriculum for her major.

“That class opened up my entire mindset: ‘I just spent three years in the wrong direction. I should be doing social work,’” she recalls. “And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since — without a social work degree.”

Cunningham, who began the transitioning process in 2015, learned of the non-profit organization Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG). Since then, she has facilitated a support group for MTUG and is a board member, secretary and director of operations at the non-profit Pride St. Louis.

“The things that need to be done for the community is always a driving factor, a driving force. It does get you down because sometimes you’re dealing with people that have nothing, that need help, that need resources,” says Cunningham. “So many times people [fall] in the cracks. And you see it happen so often that if there’s anything a few of us can do to help them overcome the barriers that they have, I’m totally for that.”

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