Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Are Black Transwomen Fighting A Lost Cause?

I just think that it is sad, to see a people who were fighting for their rights as second class citizens, just to get those rights, and now turn their noses up at their own brothers and sisters who are in the trans movement.

Monica Roberts, sometimes I wonder if we are fighting a lost cause? I never thought that I would ever envy a white T-Girl, but I do right now. I do, because they have more acceptance into their community, than we do ours.


Eboni T-Girl made this statement as part of a comment in my 'Speaking of Ignorance' post. It got me thinking about the subject she addressed in her comment of whether we should even bother trying to 'ejumacate' our African-American community about transgender issues even though that education is sorely needed.

Yes, we do need to continue trying to educate our people on these issues. One of the projects I was working on before I moved from Houston in 2001 was expanding the Transgender 101 educational efforts that we in TATS (Texas Association for Transsexual Support) were already doing at local universities and the Baylor College of Medicine to HBCU's Texas Southern and Prairie View.

Contrary to the spin that's out there, our people aren't the most transphobic ones when it comes to transgender issues. I've noted that outside of the Hi Impact Leadership Coalition, which is a subsidiary of white fundie Lou Sheldon's Traditional Values Coalition, the majority of those organizations fighting transgender inclusion and the ringleaders of those organizations tend to be non African-American in terms of their ethnic heritage.

But I agree our people need to step up to the plate and pay attention to science and logic on this issue moreso than loudmouth Christopimp preachers cooning for white fundamentalists brandishing faith-based bucks.

I know it's discouraging because we transsistahs love our people, honor our history, use it as a guide to chart our own destiny. We only want them to love us as much as we love them, not be disrespected, denigrated, and dismissed by people who share our ethnicity.

Yeah, it hurts, but the first people we African-American transwomen owe love to are ourselves. If our people won't or refuse to give us the love and respect we deserve as fellow African-Americans, then we need to do it for our damned selves.

Be as transsistah Sharon Davis put it, and I'm borrowing the title from her 1987 book, a finer specimen of womanhood. Be better than our biofemale detractors. Conduct ourselves with class and dignity. Stand up for ourselves when people attempt to disrespect us. Be stylish and classily dressed when we're out and about. Carry yourself like the descendant of African royalty you are.

It's time for us to organize, gather together the clusters of African-American transwomen around the country who are doing positive things in their various communities and talk to each other. We need to befriend and bond with each other. We also need to immediately band together locally while thinking and acting nationally and globally with our transsisters around the world.

If our African-American family won't embrace us, then we make our own.

We do have allies within the African-American community who see the big picture. Embrace them. If you are fortunate enough like I am to have biofemales as friends, treasure those friends. They can teach you much about the joys and pains of being Black and female in our society. They can help you make sense of those days when you're feeling unpretty. If you have biofemale relatives kicking knowledge to you as well, listen to the wisdom that's being told to you as well. It will help your own transition in the long run.

As a transwoman you are also a resource to our biosisters for helping them understand not only what we deal with as African-American transwomen, but for those of us who spent some time on the other side of the gender fence, we can help them decipher the mysteries of the male mind that their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and brothers won't tell them.

For those biowomen who figure out that transwomen are not 'The Enemy', embrace and honor us by adding us to their sistahfriends circle, they will soon discover that it's a win-win proposition for both parties.

Education is never a lost cause. It may take us a while to get there since we're starting later in the game than our white transsisters, but get there in terms of educating our people we will.

The grass isn't greener in terms of acceptance for white transwomen either. They've got their own Astroturf situation in terms of their decades-long battle dealing with the Hateraid heaped on transwomen from white radical feminists. That's despite the advantage of massive media coverage ever since Christine Jorgenson stepped off the plane in New York from Denmark in 1953.



I'm betting that the caring, compassionate and justice loving side of African-Americans, the desire of some of our people to educate and inform ourselves on issues, the realization that we don't have the luxury as a people of ignoring and throwing away the abilities and talents of African-American transpeople, and realizing that it's the morally correct thing to do will eventually carry the day.

And it will happen sooner rather than later.

11 comments:

crys said...

well, i personally would LOVE to have me a transwoman girlfriend. in fact, i've been pretty much stalking the girl who works in the store by my friends house - but i don't know how exactly to say 'hey girl - i want to be your friend' without her thinking i'm weird! lol!!
anyway - monica - you're my friend in my head - so that would be one down..and plenty more to go i guess :-)

seriously though....if any of you girls are in houston and would like to be my friend....i'm ready willing and able :-) and it would really be my pleasure!

crys said...

you made me remember when my best friend took me to a pageant at uptown downtown and that was my first time seeing the most beautiful woman i ever did see! i remember, she had a big white wig on and she could dance her ass off - and i fell in love! her makeup was beautiful - everything about her was just so pretty, and so feminine and so well put together -- i think for me, it's about admiration. i admire any woman who makes the effort 24/7 to be flawless because i CERTAINLY don't have whatever that takes in me :-)

Ms. Lola said...

So many powerful and wonderful points Monica, it may indeed e long overdue that our inner-community be stregnthed and host a united alliance, city-wide, nation-wide, and world-wide!! Thanks again for your brilliant words Monica, I look forward to the day I can get out of bloody Cleveland and be able to meet you in person :)

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Man Monica I am glad you wrote this! First Crys is serious she WOULD love to have trans-sister friend. I would benefit because hopefully she would bring that friend over for coffee in my kitchen. And you really are her friend in her head...RUN she crazy!! The other thing I've been meaning to tell you is your name is so close to my married name. just a "ique" and no "a" off! Just funny to me. It sounds like you should run a cosmetics company that's what I always said of my married name it begged for little hot pink (you know since Mary Kay got the pink cases)with that name stamped on them in silver.

Now on to the real deal. I was sitting with a male friend (black) and he went of on gay men and I just sat and listened because he said something about them keeping to themselves and before I could make this point he did.

He stopped and looked at me and said that sounds horrible for me as a black person to say that. If a white person said the same things about me using black instead of gay I would be mad!

It is sad as such an oppressed community we still don't mind oppressing others.

On a side note, did you hear about a trans-sister being a contestant on cycle 11 of ANTM. I know you hate reality TV but you gotta support your community!

-OG

Zoe Brain said...

I'm doubly an outsider - Australian not American, and with skin a sort of pinky-beige rather than caffee-a-lait or chocolate. I can't even get my head around the concept that melanin content matters so much, though I acknowledge it does. I've seen it in my trips to the USA.

There's history, and society, and culture, and so much I don't know. From the outside, all you Americans look alike.

I know that I haven't shared your experience, and am clueless. But if there's anything I can do to help, just ask, Ok?

Monica Roberts said...

Lola,
I'm only an 8 hour drive away from you and have relatives in Cleveland.

Crys,
Going back to H-town for my family reunion next June. Will let you know the dates. Been a while since I had Frenchy's ;)

OG,
I have some wild and crazy people in my life now. I can always use a few more ;)

Zoe,
Hey sis...same here. If you need anything, shoot me an e-mail. If you're ever in Louisville, lunch is on me.

Monica Roberts said...

Crys,
Uptown Downtown was one of my hangouts back in the day. ;)

I used to shoot pool with Tommie Ross (who beat my behind mercilessly that night) and talk about a wide range of subjects with Tommie and Cookie LaCook.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Hey I know who Cookie LaCook is well from Crys!

And yes Monica Crys is definitely crazy but always a southern bell!! I think you will enjoy her. Hopefully I'll be back home (McGregor Terrace- I know you know where that is)for you guys to stop by.

-OG

Monica Roberts said...

OG,
My godmother lived on Binz St, so yep, I know.

I was saddened to hear that Cookie passed away last year. I know that Houston Splash this year wasn't the same without her.

Everytime Cookie saw me in the audience, I was Soul Sister Number One. It's in reference to a routine she did cracking jokes about James Brown's arrest after his South Carolina car chase back in the late 90's, and she knew I loved classic R&B.

Every time I drink an amaretto sour I think of her.

crys said...

you know - i went to cookie's funeral and it was a wonderful homegoing service for her! and baby - when i tell you cookie pulled ALL the kids out, we had to park BLOCKS AND BLOCKS over and walk to the church. it was really a celebration for the loving, kind, caring person that she was. i don't think i've ever had gumbo as good as cookies - in fact, i think EVERYBODY mentioned how they would miss her gumbo!!!!

i loved her, she was so funny to me - and girl tommie ross - OMG she is good friends with my BFF!
ohhhhhhhhhh the good ole days!!!

Eboni T-Girl said...

High Monica

I have ordered the book "A finer specimen of a woman" from Borders, and I am awaiting the shipment. However, I was looking all over the web for some further info on Sharon Davis, but could not find anything as to what has come of her. I searched everything from trans friendly sites to wikipedia, and I can not find anything else about her other than the fact that she wrote the book. Do you know what ever came of her? I just needed some closeure on the topic.

I will await your answer. Have a great day.