Saturday, August 25, 2007

Black First-Transgender Second

There's a lot of things over the last thirteen years that have changed about me.

I went from long hair just past my shoulders to the short style I currently wear. I have a wig collection that rivals Kim Fields' Living Single character Regine Hunter. I've gone from wearing predominately red toned lipsticks to neutral colors and plums. I'm more outgoing and happy as a person. My body now matches my gender identity.

But the one common thread through all those various changes is a fundamental one:

I'm still Black.

When you're a transgender person of color it's the one time when being an ethnic minority is an advantage. I say that because people tend to focus on your skin color first before all the other issues that make you the unique individual that you are come into play.

I make no bones about the fact that I am a proud African-American and I'm not going to apologize for that. Neither am I going to allow some sadly misguided elements of the African-American community to stupidly assert that because I'm transgender I'm not a 'real' African-American. The only thing that changed was my body configuration. That doesn't disqualify me or any other African-American transpeeps from our rightful place at the African-American family table.

I've had to call out some of the ignorant peeps here for sarcastically referring to me as 'Monica Black' because my monthly newspaper column in THE LETTER deals with GLBT issues from an African-American perspective like my blog does.

I love ESSENCE, EBONY and Jet magazines and read them faithfully. I love everything about my people's history, our culture and never tire of learning more about it. I love the flavor we live our lives with. I love the sprituality threads that run through our culture.

It's just that for me to truly be the best person I could be and do my part to uplift the race I had to deal with the gender issues once and for all. I submit that the only thing tougher than being a Black woman or a Black man in American society is being emotionally a Black woman or a Black man in a mismatched body.

I'm evolving into my role as an African-American woman with a transgender history. I'm ecstatically happy and proud of that. I thank God for finally infusing me with the courage and faith to step out and make those necessary adjustments in my life.

I've been blessed with the writing skills and the talent to translate my life experiences into flowing prose. I'm working toward publishing some of the novels I've been working on. I want to continue to evolve into a positive role model for the transkids that are sorting out this issue and let them know that your dreams don't have to die because you transition.

But just because I transitioned doesn't mean I escaped the BS that Black people face in this country. I still grew up in the 'hood. All I did was swap one set of gender related issues for another one. I still get followed in upscale department stores. My intelligence is still discounted. I still get called the n-word by the ignorant folks in addition to having the b-word included in the epithets they spew at me. Being transgender adds another layer of drama to the mix as well.

The one thing that would make my life and other African-American transpeople's lives infinitely better is to be unconditionally loved and accepted by our own people. We get enough Hateraid from 'errbody' else and we don't need added drama from our own peeps as well. We've got a lot of work to do just to get to the point in which unconditional love and acceptance automatically happens, but it's something that I pray will happen in my lifetime.

As we work together as a communty to make that a reality, please bear in mind that I STILL am and always will be Black first, transgender second and proud to be both.


delux said...

On point, as always.

Monica Roberts said...

I try. ;)

Was inspired to write that after having a conversation earlier that day with a few friends.

delux said...

As I have more and more conversations with people from other countries who only know what they see on tv cop shows about us, it's so important that we have voices like yours who break it down to plain language. I've repeatedly referred your posts on black leadership, black history, and black transgender issues to people who want 'to learn'.

Monica Roberts said...

I keep that in mind when I do a lot of those posts. Some of the peeps that first started linking to this blog were from overseas.

I especially want to hear from and gather more information about our GLBT peeps on the African continent, who are really catching hell everywhere except South Africa.

genevieve said...

Monica, I am an African-American transgender and crossdresser. I understand what being black first is. I get very perturbed when someone tells me that I'm not a real African-American, whatever that means.

i will be graduating from college and want to teach. Transgender is a part of my life and countless others. The black community needs to deal with this in an intelligent and wise manner.


Monica Roberts said...

You're on point in that regard.

Too much of our people's response to transgender peeps is predicated on the biogoted and ignorant utterings of a few loudmouth idiots standing in a pulpit.

delux said...


You are probably aware of this site already, but I find to be a good source of news about lgbt issues in africa.

Monica Roberts said...

Thanks Delux,
I'll check it out.