Wednesday, May 14, 2008
E-Mail From Fredrikka
TransGriot note: It's nice to hear from people who not only appreciate your writing (a gentle hint for you TransGriot readers to leave comments from time to time), they take the time out of their busy schedules to tell you.
I deeply appreciate that. It's also a wake-up call as to just how much of a role model and inspiration others consider me, even if I don't feel like I am most days.
Fredrikka Maxwell, who's a TransGriot guest poster from time to time sent me this e-mail. Someone on the Dignity list (for GLBT Catholics) she's on sent her a link to my Destruction of the Black Transwoman Image post I wrote a few days ago that I crossposted to the Bilerico Project as well. It also underscores the point I was making that I'm not the only African-American transwoman who's beyond sick and tired of being saddled with the 'all Black transwomen are hookers' stereotype.
Monica Roberts is someone I have met, have high regard for, and count among my friends.
She has a clear insight into the black community and knows firsthand what it's like to be black and trans. And she's one of those women who have come through that drama and trauma and still holds her head high and walks tall like the regal daughter of kings of the Motherland.
Monica founded a thriving Yahoo list for black trans people, their friends, families, and allies, called Transsistahs-Transbrothas. And when she first thought of starting her list, then called Transsistahs, I was one of the charter members.
Monica is on target with her post. There is, among the mainstream media, the perception that all black transwomen are sex workers. Now I don't deny that some black transwomen may have taken to prostitution. It's not something I've ever encouraged. Here's my take on that.
I know from bitter firsthand experience that a lot of trans people are currently under or flat out unemployed. When you go to hunt for employment on the web, for example, you will usually find on most applications, a space for or a question about whether you've worked under another name. In a perfect world it would be OK to say yes to that. Bu in the real world that can out you and cause you to lose the job you thought you were going to be hired for.
Does the name Peter Oiler mean anything to you? Oiler was a truck driver for the Winn-Dixie grocery chain. They found out somehow that, away from work he was a cross dresser and fired him. He sued. He lost. The court seemed to think it was OK for the company to fire him even if the wasn't doing anything gender variant on company time. Now Oiler wasn't black. He was like mos of you, a white dude.
My reason for bringing him up is that black trans people have gone through that.
Does the name Susan Stanton mean anything to you? Just a person who worked for her city for 14 distinguished years only to get fired because it was learned she was beginning to transition.
There are thousands of black trans people who have gone though that. And what do some of them do since they can't find jobs anywhere? Some take to the streets in more ways than one. Some actually LIVE on the damn street.
And even if you have a decent job, your health insurance may have a specific exclusion for anything related to Gender Reassignment Surgery. That means hormones, or Facial Feminization Surgery, or finding a qualified gender therapist. And your therapists and endocrinologists, electrologist, and your surgeons all have one thing in common. THEY ALL WANT YOUR FREAKING MONEY.
So I'm not going to pass judgment on those who take to the streets. I just say a prayer of thanksgiving and realize that, there, but for the grace of God go I.
But I'm not now, never have, and never will encourage anyone to hit the streets. But I'm telling you that I understand how some people can feel like that's an option.
But, having said that, ALL BLACK TRANSWOMEN ARE NOT WHORES. Thank you. That's the truth from somebody who knows transwomen who run call centers, who are classical musicians, who are nurses, police officers, writers, and motivational speakers and even a minister or two. And that's just the transWOMEN, who include regal souls like my friend Monica Roberts.