Today I saw something that made my blood boil, a picture of four WOMEN who happen to be Trans with a misgendering caption. The photo on the left was posted in the in a Facebook group for the MAD HATTA MORNING SHOW which airs on 97.9 THE BOX. I was pissed because there were posts in multiple groups, Black groups, including some with members of the LGBT community, of this picture and the comments from what I saw...
The comments were misinformed, ignorant and bigoted at points in time. YOU do not have to agree with a person transitioning their Gender Identity, but please stop mixing SEX and GENDER! I would advise many of you without a clue to get one and fast, you may think your opinions are from a good place, but this shit is endangering TRANSlives. Especially Black Trans folks who just want to live and be themselves, who have to hear and read this vitriol, and get killed by people who are emboldened by this vile anti Trans language. Please stop misgendering folks in a jacked up attempt to perpetuate the lie that Trans folks are out to deceive Cisgender men and women and get into relationships based on lies. While many of you want to believe that bullshit, please know that Trans men and women don't do shady things like that and its just a few bad apples. Learn to think for yourselves and use non anecdotal sources to read up on people who are different and don't fit into what your socially constructed norms are.
Over the last fifteen years of being out and proud, I have had the privilege of meeting some great people who just so happened to be Transgender. When I was fifteen and still living in my beloved New Orleans, I would visit my life long friend Dee whose mother is friends with my mother. He lived around the corner from me and when I would visit him I would notice four people sitting on a porch, sometimes five, two to three women and two men. I had always spoken (its a NOLA thing) to them in passing and one day I was drawn to go directly and speak to them out of attraction to this beautiful man named Jeff. My attention was quickly stolen by a regal and stately elderly woman named Mrs. Williams, who I came to think of as my own family: "boy come on up here and sit on this porch.." she belted out in strong yet soft tone. It turns out that this group of people for a short time in my teenage life would be part of my chosen family! Amber, one of the women, out of the three happened to be Trans and I couldn't tell until she made mention of it.
THIS is where my advocacy for Trans persons of color originates from. I mean there was this eighty year old woman, her sister who was in her seventies, me a teenager, and two thirty something men just sitting on the porch on Saturdays for a couple hours and talking about life! The best part about us is that we were all Black! Like I said, they were my family for a short time do in part to me becoming an SGL-BT/LGBT homeless youth, which led me to just be around people like me, Black SGL-BT/LGBT homeless youth. On the first of many nights having to sleep out in the streets, a man held a knife to me in order to force me into having sex with him until I saw this tall statuesque woman come up from behind to take the man down. She told him "Don't mess with this baby..." and she literally took the knife out of his hand and sent him away bloody. Honestly, it was all a blur, but she saved my life and I never knew her name, she saved my life. She was in transition and she let it be known during a short conversation over food that she bought me after convincing me to go and eat at Clover Grill. Mind you, the frame of time between meeting Amber and this stranger who came to my rescue was a matter of months from 1999 to 2000.
Life has a way of putting people in your presence in order for you to truly understand the nature of being human and what comes with it. I guess, I never tried to understand what it meant to be Trans-Masculine or Trans-Feminine, only that people are people, PERIOD. I saw how Trans folks were and are abused physically and verbally via institutional & general means. I will not go into all of that, what I will go into is how we are currently treating people who have the same struggles as us. When I say struggles, I mean living while Black and dealing with all that comes with being Black, while being told that we don't exist by Black folks! When will we stop being so Trans-phobic and disrespectful to our Brothers and sisters? It is extremely odd that members of the SGL-BT/LGBT community of color are some of the most Trans-phobic, this is extremely problematic.
The first thing that we must understand is not how and why a person decided to transition, but how we can help our brothers and sisters in that transition and respecting it. We can't continue to sexualize Trans persons out of curiosity of what their genitalia may or may not look like! Here is a place to start:
Sex - refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs.
Gender - describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine.
Gender identity - is a person's private sense and subjective experience of their own gender. This is generally described as one's private sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: male or female.
Gender expression - refers to all of the external characteristics and behaviors that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as dress, grooming, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interactions. Social or cultural norms can vary widely and some characteristics that may be accepted as masculine, feminine or neutral in one culture may not be assessed similarly in another.
Transgender - is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate). Not all people who consider themselves (or who may be considered by others as) transgender will undergo a gender transition.
Gender transition - Transitioning is the process some transgender people go through to begin living as the gender with which they identify, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery and other medical procedures.
Can we come to agreement that we should try to respect and understand others' choices to transition without stereotyping, demeaning and attack our Trans brothers and Sisters? Now is the time for us to use our privilege to help the "T" in SGL-BT/LGBT and understand that it doesn't take away from or main struggles and only serves to benefit all.