Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#CABQ: Why Have We Turned Our Backs On Our Trans Family?

The Chronicles Of An Angry Black Queer


It should be noted that I am writing from my perspective, which is that of a Black, masculine presenting gay man who happens to be an Atheist. I will be writing about my thoughts and experiences as an activist, human and life in general. These posts will not be academic or even properly written in some of your opinions.

Transgender - 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.


Entry #9: Why Have We Turned Our Backs On Our Trans Family?


"If you want to learn about trans women and our lives, how about doing the simple thing of actually talking to a trans person, reading our books, inviting us to speak (and paying us fairly to do so) on college campuses and having us do the media interviews to talk about our lives." - TransGriot

First, let me start by stating that I honor the memories of Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Jaquarrius Holland and so many other Trans siblings who have fallen to violence. Their lives were taken within days of each other and while these tragedies occurred, states like Texas are looking to institutionalize Transphobia. The women mentioned earlier are Black and it should be alarming to all of you that the state and the community are working hand in hand to sanction violence toward people who only wish to be respected in their existence. The fight for Trans lives is and should be included on every level of activism, the Black Lives Matter movement, feminist and other movements in an intersectional way. In wake of all that has happened, a popular feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie demonstrated how Trans exclusionary we can be in the activist and Black community at large...


Then she released a problematic statement in response to the backlash:


"CLARIFYING

Because I have been the subject of much hostility for standing up for LGBTQ rights in Nigeria, I found myself being very defensive at being labeled 'transphobic.' My first thought was – how could anyone think that?

I didn't like that version of myself. It felt like a white person saying 'I'm not racist, I supported civil rights.'

Because the truth is that I do think one can be trans phobic while generally supporting LGBTQ rights.

And so I want to put my defensiveness aside and clarify my thoughts. To make sure that I am fully understood.

I said, in an interview, that trans women are trans women, that they are people who, having been born male, benefited from the privileges that the world affords men, and that we should not say that the experience of women born female is the same as the experience of trans women.

This upset many people, and I consider their concerns to be valid. I realize that I occupy this strange position of being a ‘voice’ for gender rights and so there is an automatic import to my words.

I think the impulse to say that trans women are women just like women born female are women comes from a need to make trans issues mainstream. Because by making them mainstream, we might reduce the many oppressions they experience.

But it feels disingenuous to me. The intent is a good one but the strategy feels untrue. Diversity does not have to mean division.

Because we can oppose violence against trans women while also acknowledging differences. Because we should be able to acknowledge differences while also being supportive. Because we do not have to insist, in the name of being supportive, that everything is the same. Because we run the risk of reducing gender to a single, essentialist thing.

Perhaps I should have said trans women are trans women and cis women are cis women and all are women. Except that 'cis' is not an organic part of my vocabulary. And would probably not be understood by a majority of people. Because saying ‘trans’ and ‘cis’ acknowledges that there is a distinction between women born female and women who transition, without elevating one or the other, which was my point.

I have and will continue to stand up for the rights of transgender people. Not merely because of the violence they experience but because they are equal human beings deserving to be what they are.

I see how my saying that we should not conflate the gender experiences of trans women with that of women born female could appear as if I was suggesting that one experience is more important than the other. Or that the experiences of trans women are less valid than those of women born female. I do not think so at all – I know that trans women can be vulnerable in ways that women born female are not. This, again, is a reason to not deny the differences.

Why does this even matter?

Because at issue is gender.

Gender is a problem not because of how we look or how we identify or how we feel but because of how the world treats us.

Girls are socialized in ways that are harmful to their sense of self – to reduce themselves, to cater to the egos of men, to think of their bodies as repositories of shame. As adult women, many struggle to overcome, to unlearn, much of that social conditioning.

A trans woman is a person born male and a person who, before transitioning, was treated as male by the world. Which means that they experienced the privileges that the world accords men. This does not dismiss the pain of gender confusion or the difficult complexities of how they felt living in bodies not their own.

Because the truth about societal privilege is that it isn't about how you feel. (Anti-racist white people still benefit from race privilege in the United States). It is about how the world treats you, about the subtle and not so subtle things that you internalize and absorb.

This is not to say that trans women did not undergo difficulties as boys. But they did not undergo those particular difficulties specific to being born female, and this matters because those experiences shape how adult women born female interact with the world.

And because to be human is to be a complex amalgam of your experiences, it is disingenuous to say that their being born male has no effect on their experience of gender as trans women.

Of course there are individual differences. But there are always individual differences. We speak of ‘women’s issues’ knowing that while there are individual differences, the truth of human history is that women as a group have been treated as subordinate to men. And we speak of male privilege acknowledging that individual men differ but that men as a group are nevertheless accorded privileges by the world.

I think of feminism as Feminisms. Race and class shape our experience of gender. Sexuality shapes our experience of gender. And so when I say that I think trans women are trans women, it is not to diminish or exclude trans women but to say that we cannot insist – no matter how good our intentions – that they are the same as women born female.

Nor do I think that we need to insist that both are the same.

To acknowledge different experiences is to start to move towards more fluid – and therefore more honest and true to the real world – conceptions of gender."
 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


These comments were misinformed, ignorant and bigoted in my my opinion. YOU do not have to agree with a person transitioning their Gender Identity, but please stop mixing SEX and GENDER!

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:
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

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 our Trans family. 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.

"We pull back, bind down and put on this persona, only to be knocked down. We are used for our talents and bright personality, but overlooked for promotions. Any transgender woman who wants to make an honest living, wakes up every morning and is forced to transition back into a male presentation. For years, I believed I was doing the right thing by tying my natural hair back, and binding my chest down. Believing that hard work and a great personality would open doors to advancements, and let me just say that I’ve seen my share of people cutting me in line and/or doors slammed in my face when it comes to opportunities. Recently, I was told the only way I would receive any type of promotion would be if I cut all of my hair off, appear more masculine and traditional. Assuming something and finally hearing it are two different things and I  don’t care how strong of a person you are, you’re never prepared for discrimination. It made me second guess my transition and even allowed thoughts of giving up my happiness, but I remember there will be another woman like me and it’s my duty to help pave the way for her just like it was done for me. This is only the beginning of my fight to end discrimination against Trans women in the workplace so that the next generation will be one step closer." - Lola Mo'na

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. Trans folks can speak for themselves...


Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting some great people who just so happened to be Transgender. Chyna was one of them, I came out early and during that period in my life Chyna was one of the many people I crossed paths with and now she's gone. During part of that time, I was homeless and witness the hate first hand that Trans women would encounter on the street. Many did not trick themselves out for money as you would assume, while some did, it was about surviving. So when people say things like what Chimamanda said, and others spout hate about people who experience misogyny, patriarchy and etc it fucks with me. Again Trans folks can speak for themselves, Get em Raquel (one of my favorite people)...






It is the Black Trans folk who come to our aid, my aid. There was a that time I was nearly raped 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. 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.

When will we stop being so Transphobic and disrespectful to our Brothers and sisters?

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!

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?

For those of you SGL/LGB Cis folks in the community negating, demeaning and attacking Trans folks, just remember that Marsha P Johnson, a BLACK TRANSWOMAN kicked of the Stonewall Riots in 1969. So no, it isn't a Trans supremacy movement...


It is a movement that includes all of us and 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 our main struggles and only serves to benefit all.