Friday, April 04, 2014

Today Is My 20 Year Transition Anniversary!

Today is the day 20 years ago I walked into Houston Intercontinental Airport's Terminal C to clock in at my then seven year old airline job to begin my first nerve wracking work week evolving into the Phenomenal Transwoman you see today.

It had been a long road to get to that April 4, 1994 day.  I'd had my first appointment with my gender therapist Dr. Cole just two months earlier.  

That first work week was filled with me having one on one emotional conversations with my airline co-workers spelling out why I was handling my transition business.   Some of them led to tell it like it T-I-S is revelations and epiphanies.   Others were simply people wanting to know what the process was like as I would evolve in front of their very eyes.

The now 16 years and counting of activism around trans human rights issues started four years later, but from 1994-1998 my thirtysomething self was more focused on becoming the best woman I could be.  

I felt at the time I was going from zero to femininity and needing to play catch up with the other cis sisters in my peer group, my workplace and elsewhere around H-town. 

On that April 4, 1994 day I was facing the task of needing to have the acquired knowledge of a thirtysomething Black woman and not having three decades to learn and make mistakes while doing so.   I also accepted the mission of going through a body morphing second puberty with a wide variety range of reactions from friends, family and society ranging from unconditional acceptance to virulent hostility.  Add to the body morphing and other changes bumrushing me at that moment at a dizzying pace the frustrating at times documentation and paperwork changes combined with rolling down I-45 south to Galveston every few months for check ups and chats at the gender clinic with Dr Emery and Dr. Cole.

Some of those challenges I encountered were quickly learning that sexism, misogyny, and the straight up hatred aimed at Black women is no joke. 

I also received an early reminder of the transmisogynistic hatred trans women face inside and outside our community when Tyra Hunter died at the hands of a transphobic Washington DC EMT a mere 15 months into my transition.  

I had a scary 1996 incident that taught me paying attention to my personal safety was a must and that any lapse in attention could result in severe injury, sexual assault or my untimely death 

I discovered the wallet in my purse was going to take a bigger hit now that I was on the femme gender side because of the added expenses and the new wardrobe I was having to build from scratch. 

I also discovered that the weight gain you pick up after starting HRT is no joke either.  

I already knew this from sitting in locker rooms during my teen years, but it got it reinforced as an estrogen based lifeform just how much men can be pigs at times.

There were humorous and sometimes touching moments along the way as I adjusted to my happier life as Monica. 

I built my network of cis and trans sistafriends who broke down the evolving feminine journey I was on.  They praised me when I was handling my business and put their foot up my ass when necessary to give me that needed motivational kick.  

My sistagirls (and they know who they are) stayed on my behind to make sure that I not only continued to evolve to be a better person, I kept my promise to evolve to be a complement to Black womanhood and not be seen as a it.  

And yes, my transbrothers have played their parts in helping me become the person I needed to be. 

Because I stepped out on faith and did so, I have been afforded some amazing opportunities.   I get to travel and participate in discussions about trans and other issues at various conferences and college campuses in Houston and around the country.

I have a blog that has been visited by 5.5 million people around the world since I started it in January 2006.  It has led to a new column at Black Girl Dangerous and being published at, Loop 21, the Huffington Post and a long list of other blogs

I have gotten to meet wonderful people inside and outside the trans community I probably wouldn't have come in contact with otherwise had I continued to unhappily muddle through my pre-transition life.  My network of friends and chosen family encompasses the United States and the world.  

And the question I asked at the beginning of my transition has been emphatically answered in 2014.   The girls like us who share my ethnic background are all across the African Diaspora.   I have also gotten the opportunity to meet and befriend beautiful, smart and talented transwomen of all ethnic backgrounds and ages.

I have had the opportunity to be a witness to the last 20 years of trans history, helped shape some of it, and meet some of the people who made that history before I transitioned like Phyllis Frye, the late Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major.   I get to unearth chapters of our Black trans history as one of the missions of this blog.   

I would be remiss if on this day I didn't mention all the transwomen who started that journey around the same 1994 time with me that for various reasons fell by the wayside and didn't continue their evolution, passed on far too soon, or lived their lives well and are now watching over me with the ancestors like Dana Turner and Roberta Angela Dee.

I also need to acknowledge the people cis and trans who popped in on this journey with me for a short time who had lessons good and bad to teach me but who are now out of my life for various reasons.   

There are some things that have happened in that 20 years I didn't foresee.  Becoming an activist wasn't in the original 1994 plan, that just happened because of my strong social justice leanings that were there long before I swallowed my first Premarin tablet and a jacked up IFGE Tapestry article   The nearly nine years in Louisville was something else I didn't see coming, but overall was important to my growth and development as moi.  

I also didn't foresee at the time having a generation of young trans people who see me as a iconic leader and role model, a fact I got reminded of during Creating Change 14.  That amuses and humbles me at times.   I'm honored that people think highly enough me to not only nominate me for and sometimes give me awards, but actually name them after me as BTAC did.

I  keep that iconic status in mind when I have the conversations with them about the history I've made and seen (and I'm still making) as I encourage them to fearlessly be the best girls and boys like us they can be.

I've seen some amazing progress for the trans community here in the States and internationally over the last twenty years, but we are not done yet.  There is still a long way to go before transpeople have full societal equality in my nation and around the world.  

My transition started 20 years ago today, but it is still an ongoing evolutionary journey that won't end until I'm meeting the ancestors. 

And you better believe I'm deliriously happy I took that first small, nerve wracking step in 1994 that has resulted in a giant leap in the quality of my life.  

1 comment:

Dexter Williams said...

Monica, you are amazing. Congratulations on such an important journey. Your life's testimony has and will continue to inspire us all. Peace & Blessings