Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Black Transpeople's Burden

"It is a burden of Black people that we have to do more than talk."
Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) 1992

My fellow Houstonian uttered those words over a decade and a half ago, but they ring true for every person of African descent. For the last two centuries we've had the burden of having to do more than just pay lip service to the ideas of freedom and equality for all.

We've had to sometimes put our lives on the line for it in addition to march, shed blood, write about, orate, agitate and litigate as well.

As a transperson of African descent I don't have the luxury of disengaging from the battle for transgender civil rights because I'm 'stressed' over the tidal waves of bad news that come at regular intervals as some people do.

I'm helping to fight a two-front war not only for overall societal respect, but also to garner that same respect in my African-American family as well.

Since my skin color didn't change and as far as I'm concerned my Black Card is still in good standing, I also have to fight the same issues that my African descended cisgender sisters and brothers labor against in terms of police brutality, unequal justice, racism, sexism, and all of the other ills and isms that plague our community.

So no, I can't focus too long on the happy-happy joy-joy aspects of transition, not when Black transwomen are disproportionately targets along with our Latina transsisters for anti-transgender violence.

My transition along with those of my African descended transbrothers and transsisters is a reality based one. If talking about real life issues upsets some people's delicate sensibilities to the point they can't handle reading the truth on this blog about transgender life being harsh and unfair sometimes, then that's too bad.

I also look at many issues through an African flavored prism. That means my take isn't going to always line up neatly with the predominately WP flavored groupthink.

As the late poet Gwendolyn Brooks said, 'Truth tellers are not always palatable. There's a preference for candy bars."

We have people that hate us enough they want us to die. Ignoring that fact or drowning it in melted white chocolate won't make it go away.

As Black transpersons we are always in combat mode. When we step away from the civil rights battlefield for R and R, we have to keep our rifles loaded, boots shined, combat fatigues by our bedside ready to put on and be ready to step back into combat at a moment's notice.

That's just life as a minority for you folks new to that status, and it's the burden we Black transpeople share with our African descended cisgender brothers and sisters as well.

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