Farm News: What It's Like to be a Trans Farmer

April 14, 2022

Lee Hennessy was born and raised in Upstate New York.

In 2014, he found himself becoming interested in the artisanal cheese movement and decided to leave his successful career, and start over.

After learning the ins and outs of goat farming and the art of cheese mongering, Lee purchased a small 46-acre farm in Argyle from two retiring cheesemakers.

Lee ran the farm, hand-milking the goats, collecting eggs from the free range chickens, and tending to the pigs.

It was hard work, but brought Lee true joy.

Lee uses a “terroir” farming style, which makes for the best small-batch cheese as the farm animals are intrinsically linked to the land.

Lee’s love for cheese and heritage food makes for a special product and he hopes to continue living and working on the farm for years to come.

In true traditional style, Lee also employs a team of two Shire horses, Sam and Charlie, who are in charge of land and lumber management.

 

Farmer Lee on why he’s crowdfunding for a security system for his upstate NY farm:

"Part of the farm’s mission is for me to be visible as a 40-year-old trans man.

I came out as trans out here on the farm.

When I was having that realization, I had a lot of ingrained fear based on what I was taught about how wrong, and therefore dangerous, it is to be trans."

"The fear caused by these anti-trans sentiments have absolutely made it harder to do our work on the farm — and it’s affected how I run the farm. 

I realized we needed a security system when I began actually turning down business opportunities out of fear that they would draw attention to the fact that we’re a trans-owned farm.

Our community has been super supportive of me and the farm. I’m a part of my community."

 

Lee on why he decided Moxie Ridge needs a security system:

"I would love to fly a trans flag and the rainbow flag, and I don’t, because I don’t know who’s driving by and if they might have an issue with it, and that puts my animals and myself in danger.

Having the security system will mean we can fly that trans flag.

We can finally have a sign.

We could show other queer people that this is what it’s like to have a farm, and that you can have a good life in the country."

 

But Lee remains hopeful for the future:

"But this moment has galvanized us to take our safety into our own hands.

 I feel like in this way we’re acknowledging what’s going on, we’re acknowledging reality, and being vulnerable enough to ask for help.

It’s been beautiful to see the support—our communities have been supportive and have been contributing without even knowing anything about the farm, without knowing anything about me.

It’ll result in not just more joy, but other people seeing that, experiencing that, and hopefully being inspired by that, whether they’re trans or not."

 

GoFundMe linked here.

 

 

Article by Local Roots contributor Jess Santoro / @jess_santoro





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