TransGriot Note: I know this cycle of America's Next Top Model was shot during the summer and the winner has already been determined.
But I still cried and I'm disappointed about seeing Isis eliminated during Wednesday's broadcast.
I'm writing this open letter to my sis anyway.
I just watched the episode containing your heartbreaking elimination from Cycle 11 of America's Next Top Model, I know you wanted to go much further in the competition than you did and your brothers and sisters in the worldwide transgender community and beyond wanted just as badly to see you win it.
Sis, know that I and the entire transgender community are immensely proud of you.
Through difficult circumstances, catty remarks, borderline inappropriate questions and the ignorance of some of your fellow competitors you handled yourself with class and dignity even with a camera lens pointed at you.
I felt your pain of dealing with a transition in a fishbowl situation. My own transition was done in the middle of a major international airport in which 30,000 passengers a day transited through it. I don't know if I would have had the courage to do it with most of the planet and the unblinking eye of a television camera following my every move, But if that's what it would have taken for me to become the Phenomenal Transwoman I am today, I would have done so in a heartbeat and with a smile on my face.
I recognized that you had the weight of our community's hopes and dreams on your slender shoulders in this competition and I worried about that. I noted you were struggling with the confidence issues that many transwomen have during the early stages of transitioning from the old gender role to the new one. I'm 15 years into it and I still have nervous butterflies from time to time when I'm thrust into an unfamiliar situation or meet a relative from my extended family for the first time in decades that only remembers the old me.
The recent article I read mentioning you'd only been transitioning for two years confirmed what I'd suspected as I watched the episodes of you in that competition unfold from week to week.
Sis, you have the look, the intelligence and the talent to go all the way. I have no doubts that you will succeed at whatever you choose to do. You also have something else going for you that many people don't have who are trying to enter the fashion industry- a worldwide community of people who love you and wish you nothing but success.
As time goes on, transition will get easier for you. Your confidence will grow as you learn who Isis is, get comfortable with your body and figure out what type of woman you want to project to the world. As you work through that ongoing process, you will eventually get to the point in which you feel as strong, sexy, beautiful and confident as the Egyptian queen you chose to name yourself after. This America's Next Top Model experience will only help speed that inevitable day along.
Isis, you are a wonderful role model for us, and as Tyra said, you are an inspiration to me and many of us inside and outside the GLBT community. Hold your head up high and never forget that we love you. You are a beautiful butterfly emerging from your cocoon, spreading your wings and evolving into a classy young woman both inside and out.
Never let anybody tell you you're not.