Monday, November 25, 2013

Trans Younglings, Imagine Growing Old, Not Dying Young

Was perusing my Facebook wall and noticed a post from a young African-American trans person in which she expressed her joy about turning 24 next month.  What saddened me and motivated me to write this post is that she admitted that if you'd asked her ten years ago, she didn't think she would live to see that age.

While she cried about the prospect of reaching her upcoming 24th birthday on December 7,  I was saddened to hear that to the point of shedding tears that too many of our young people believe they won't reach that age.   

And that dynamic needs to change.

Growing up I looked forward to milestone birthdays.  I eagerly looked forward to turning 18 because you were not only considered to legally be an adult, it signified that I could finally vote in elections.  You could also at the time of my 18th birthday in 1980 legally drink at the time in Texas.

I also looked forward to my 21st birthday as well.  

There was also a meme going around at the time that one in four Black male children would not live to see their 30th birthday.  Maybe it was my Taurus stubborn streak talking, but I was determined to not give in to such defeatist thinking. 

I not only made it my mission to be around God willing for my 30th birthday in 1992, but wanted to see the dawn of the 21st century and the year 2000 eight years later.  

I wanted to make it to my 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th birthdays in addition to being the best Moni I can be.  

As someone who works hard to push trans human rights forward, I want to see the results of this hard work I and countless others are doing to plant those civil rights trees for you trans younglings.  I have to be alive to not only do the work, but see those trans civil rights trees take root and grow as a result of that work. 

I make the choices and attempt to do my best to not put myself in negative situations that could result in a premature end to my life.  Sometimes stuff and life events happen that are beyond your control and you have to make snap decisions as you're in the moment that could have an impact positively or negatively on your life.  But the things I can control, I try my best to do so.

But that doesn't mean I cut all fun out of my life either.  Ask the peeps who were at the 2012 OUT on the Hill how good my dancing abilities are.    I did my share of partying back in the day and mass consumption of alcohol.  But I also strove to never put myself in the position of being so drunk that I didn't know what zip code I was in.  If I did get drunk, I either slept it off at a trusted friend's house or did so with a designated driver beside me in the club to drive my drunk behind home when we left.

I'm also cognizant of my surroundings, a quality that's even more important as someone navigating society in a feminine body.  I learned once that failure to be aware of that at all times or an ill timed lapse in judgment can result in bodily injury, sexual assault or death.   TDOR's remind me every year that we do have people who irrationally hate us enough to kill us.

Trans younglings, all the slings and arrows and trans hate we expose ourselves to is ultimately for your benefit.  Hell, it does me or no one else any good to fight for the trans human rights laws and policies this community needs if you second decade of the 21st century transwomen or the ones behind you aren't around to enjoy their benefits because you have this misguided belief you won't live to see 30. 

We want you to be able to live your lives to their full potential and make your most expansive dreams come true. But that can't happen if you're not walking on this plane of existence to do so or you robbed this community of your future greatness and talents because you took your life while going through a depressingly rough patch in it.

Getting to be my age is a wonderful, constantly evolving experience.  I enjoy being the mentor for you I didn't have.  There is life beyond age 24.  Life for transpeople is getting better.  It many not be changing as fast as we'd like, but there is ample visible evidence the arc of the moral universe is bending towards justice for trans people. Some of the things you're seeing today were in our wildest dreams territory for trans people when I transitioned in 1994 and we pushed this in conditions far more hostile than you see today.

And don't forget what we did trans human rights warriors did in the 90's-early 2k's was based on the struggles and work our sisters did like Christine Jorgensen, April Ashley, Coccinelle, and Phyllis Frye who put themselves in the public eye in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.   They built on the work of the trans women who were at the Cooper's Donuts riots in LA, the 1965 Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit-In that occurred in Philly, the 1966 Compton's Cafeteria Riot and Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson at Stonewall in 1969.

What will life be like for transpeople in 2024?  2034?  2044?  2054?  Some of you reading this post may have the answer to that question. 

You may become the first trans governor of a state.  The trans doctor who comes up with a cure for cancer.  An astronaut who walks on Mars.   Perform at Carnegie Hall.   The next trans state legislator or first trans mayor of a major city.  Come up with the next great business idea that creates jobs for all of us.  Become the first trans Olympian.  When the medical technology develops to that point you may even be able to give birth to your own children should you desire that or even come up with the breakthroughs that make it happen.  You may even become the first trans president of the US, a US senator, a federal judge or congressmember.

You may witness the time when the TDOR's are no longer needed. 

ut just like Cheryl Courtney-Evans, Miss Major, Tracie Jada O'Brien, Sharyn Grayson, Gloria Allen and others are around to be mentors to me and trans women of my Baby Boomer and beyond trans generations, and I am proudly mentoring your generation of trans women, you will inevitably get older and eventually be the mentors of the mid and late 21st century trans women now transitioning in the elementary, middle, high schools and colleges right now or just being born.    

But you have to be alive to live long enough to be able to properly mentor those trans younglings when the time comes for you to take on that role.   
So please trans younglings, be determined to live long fabulous lives.   Imagine growing old, not dying young.  It's also your best revenge to all the people who reviled you when you were younger to have a more happy and successful life than their miserable ones. 

TransGriot Note: Pics are Cheryl Courtney-Evans, me with Miss Major, Tracie Jada O'Brien, and Sylvia Rivera.

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