There's an old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One of the things I really get tired of is when the general conversation of transwomen turns to beauty and the discussion ignores us.
What got me thinking about the subject was this YouTube video I ran across while searching for something else spotlighting gorgeous celebrity transwomen. Too many times when that discussion gets started, the transwomen that are held up to that standard nine times out of ten have European ancestry. If on the rare occasions you do see a transwoman of color make it into this conversation, she's either Latina or Asian.
Black transwomen hardly ever make it into this general conversation, but when it comes to whatever negatives are slapped onto transwomen, notice how quickly they get shunted to Black transwomen. There have been too many times that when more attractive pictures were available of Black transwomen, the media seems to find the most unflattering, unattractive picture of a transwoman of African descent.
Somehow, that shouldn't be surprising to any of us who paid attention in history class. If our biosisters have had drama over the centuries (and still do) just getting the world to recognize the curvaceous beauty of Black women from vanilla creme to darkest ebony, what made us Black transwomen think we'd have it any easier, especially in the face of a near total news blackout when it comes to transwomen of color?
It was one of the reasons why I and many other Black transwomen were deliriously happy about Isis making it on America's Next Top Model and rooting for her to win it all, and seeing Laverne Cox representing on I Want To Work For Diddy. Not only were we finally getting to see on television beautiful, intelligent transsistahs doing their thang on the tube, they looked good doing it.
It's interesting that our beauty is not talked about or celebrated despite the fact that in the major non African-American transgender pageant systems such as Miss Continental and Miss Gay US of A sistahs routinely win titles. The Miss Continental system just finished a run in which Black transwomen won the title three consecutive years, but yet we're still 'unpretty' in the general beauty discussion or only grudgingly acknowledged.
I can almost guarantee that if the ballroom community were a overwhelmingly white one and not one in which beautiful Black and Latina transwomen rule, it would have been claimed by mainstream GLBT culture long ago.
When coverage of transwomen since 1953 has been predominately driven by, of and about white transwomen, it follows that discussions of what makes a transwoman beautiful would be decided in that context as well. It sucks, but that's the reality we deal with.
We also know from observing our biosisters just how much of a battle it's going to be to broaden the discussion of what makes a transwoman beautiful to include African descended ones more frequently than it happens now.
But for the sake of our transkids and others, it's one that we must fight.