2017 was one of the deadliest years for trans* individuals. At least 29 people, overwhelmingly transwomen of color, went largely unreported in mainstream news outlets. With continuing threats on people like her, as well as increasing pressure from the Trump administration, Marie-Adélina de la Ferrière did the unthinkable – she founded her own nation, Royaume de Legiálle.
While not the first, Marie-Adélina (Lina) is among a growing trend of individuals who create their own micronations. They are entities that claim to be an independent nation or states not recognized by world governments. Some are simply simulations of actual countries, others strive for full independence, while many are somewhere in between. The international Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States attempts to define sovereign states and non-states. It lists four criteria: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and a capacity to enter relations with other states. Many leaders of micronations adopt these conventions.
The seeds of leadership were planted after Lina was asked to address a rally against the against the transgender military ban. She calls the speech “her Tilbury”, a reference to a famous speech made by another queen four centuries ago. As England prepared for a Spanish invasion, Elizabeth I made a rallying and moving speech to encourage her soldiers. Earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History, Lina looked to the famous Tudor queen as a role model. “[Elizabeth I] never identified as transgender, but she never let her gender limit her,” Lina reflects. “Despite being trapped in a woman’s body, Elizabeth said herself to have the heart and stomach of a man. Of a king.”
“As a trans woman of color, fear has become an increasing part of my life…Fear limits us. It discourages us. It deprives us. It blinds us from walking own our path of life, and deafens us from understanding the lives of others. Fear is the greatest enemy of freedom – and I refuse to let fear take hold of my destiny.”
- Excerpt, Marie-Adelina’s Speech at the ‘Stand with Our Transgender Community’ Rally, Rochester, NY, July 27 2017
A lover of royalty, Lina never thought of becoming a queen in her own right. While enjoying an evening meal, Lina watched a VICE News segment on an international conference of leaders of micronations in Georgia. She was enthralled by the concept. That same night, she began researching on the subject. A few weeks later, the Legialle came into existence on September 13, 2017. She proclaimed herself the first sovereign as Her Royal Highness Princess Marie-Adélina I. As Princess, she laid claim to the uninhabited Navassa Island, located between Haiti and Jamaica.
On a ‘royal’ mission to create, advocate, and support projects that foster positive relationships in communities, Marie-Adélina wants to do more than just 'queening'.
“There’s nothing wrong with putting on a tiara and going grocery shopping,” Marie-Adélina jokes. “But to be a Princess is a real job. It’s embodying all the virtues and values of your nation. It’s speaking out for those who may not have a voice. It’s representing those who may not often be represented. That’s why I started Legialle – and I cannot wait to see how it evolves.”