One is not born a woman, but becomes one.
That Simone de Beauvoir quote is one this Phenomenal Transwoman recites to herself on a regular basis, especially on her unpretty days. It reminds me that even though I was born with body and mind not matching, womanhood is an ongoing evolutionary process for a biowoman as well.
But the question I have pondered (and still do) on a regular basis even before I took my first hormones to begin transition is how do I become a quality Black woman?
How do you evolve into Black womanhood despite not having the body from birth, being socialized into the role or feeling like you have to play catch up with the biosisters of yours or any generation?
I know one of the things I was adamant about when I began transition was that I was not going to do anything that would be seen in my mind as bringing dishonor to my biosisters or the women of my own family.
I wanted to carry myself with the utmost class, pride and dignity, and be seen as an asset to the sisterhood, not a caricature to it.
Another concern of mine was falling into the trap some transwomen do of being so overly focused on the body morphing part of transition that you forget womanhood is moreso a spiritual and emotional journey.
I was also keenly aware of the fact that I wasn't just stepping into a gender role. I was cognizant of the history impacting Black womanhood and the awesome legacy attached to it. I felt that I had to be mentally ready to accept that history as well and be worthy of it before I swallowed a single estrogen pill to begin that transformation.
So as I began my journey, I adopted the mindset that if I was going to be a woman, be the best damn woman I could be. I wanted to be a quality Black woman,
When I say 'quality Black woman', I wanted to be the type of woman that even if you knew or discovered after meting me I was a transwoman, you wouldn't care, you'd see me as an asset and not a liability on the balance sheet of femininity and you'd want me in your life as a friend.
In order to get to that point, I thought about the various women inside and outside my family I admired who I felt fit that bill. I paid close attention to how they lived their lives, carried themselves and how they interacted with people around them while incorporating my own evolving sense of the type of woman I wanted to project to the world.
Through trial and error, I eventually found my way, began to over time confidently assert myself as the person I always knew deep down I needed to be and reveled in every glorious moment of it. I made mistakes, wasn't afraid to laugh at myself about it, and then sought out advice and help from my biosisters to correct those mistakes.
As for how I'm doing fifteen years into transition, like all of you, I'm a work in progress. I'm not perfect, nor do I want or claim to be. While being a Black transwoman is always going to be part of me until the day I die, all I want to be in the end is a quality Black woman.
A quality Black woman who is doing her part to uplift the race, be a concerned citizen, an intelligent, spiritually tuned and morally upright person, a good friend to the people fortunate enough to be in my life and be the best person she can be.
Oh yeah, and be the sistah turning heads when she walks in the room as well.