Her e-mail floored me by expressing hers and the other transwoman's admiration for me. She continued to say in it she saw me as an inspirational role model and expressed her desire to have a long sit down chat with me that will result in us getting to know each other a lot better in 2010 and beyond.
I was shedding a tear or two after I finished it because I was having a bit of a crummy day before I received that e-mail.
Even though I've heard for a decade how much of a leader I am and a positive influence on the African American transgender community and the trans community in general, I kind of take it in stride because I have a cadre of close friends that ensure I never get 'big head syndrome'.
I also have my detractors and haters who at regular intervals let loose their negativity at me as well.
I just do what all people do that are thrust into leadership roles and ignore the haters. As an additional layer of defense against 'big head syndrome' I still filter whatever positive commentary that flows my way through the definition of Black leadership attributed to University of Maryland political scientist Dr. Ronald Walters.
The task of Black leadership is to provide the vision, resources, tactics, and strategies that facilitate the achievement of the objectives of Black people.
These objectives have been variously described as freedom, integration, equality, liberation, or defined in the terms of specific public policies. It is a role that often requires disturbing the peace. And we constantly carry on a dialogue about the fitness of various leaders and the qualities they bring to the table to fulfill this mission.
It is this definition of leadership I use as a measuring stick in terms of my own leadership qualities. I try to follow in addition to the Walters definition of Black leadership the sterling examples of leadership from Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the late Rep. Barbara Jordan from the home state, the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the late Coretta Scott King and a host of other leaders past and present.
I'm cognizant of the fact that people do look up to me and I never want to be a disappointment to them.
But yes, I'm also human as well. I wonder at times if I have the qualities necessary to carry out such a critical and important mission.
That mission, ladies and gents is getting our African descended cis brothers and cis sisters to recognize that their trans brothers and trans sisters have the same African heritage, history and cultural ties. Our issues as African descended trans people are the same as Black America's issues.
It is getting our cis brothers and cis sisters to accept that we aren't going away and for them to do their part in ensuring that our humanity and our human rights are respected and protected.
It is calling out and speaking truth to power to those people inside and outside the community who align themselves with the same white fundamentalist-GOP Dixiecrat Forces of Intolerance who opposed our 50s and 60's era march toward full equality and our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights.
It is also praising our allies when they do something right on our community's behalf and chastising them with Kingian love when they don't.
So do I have the right stuff to carry that mission out?
Well, the IFGE Trinity Award on the mantel is a big clue that I know a little something-something and have some skills to execute this mission.
But my fellow African American transpeople will let me know one way or the other soon enough.