Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Y'all 'Scurred' Of Non-White Transpeople Owning Their Power?

Like everyone else, I ;like to change up my photos on my Facebook page every now and then.  

With the rapid approach of the third annual Black Trans Advocacy Conference happening up I-45 from me in Dallas April 29-May 4, last night I decided to put the Black Transwomen, Inc logo up on my Facebook page in honor of that.  Black Transwomen, Inc is the sister organization to Black Transmen, Inc. founded by 2013 Trans 100 honoree Carter Brown, and I wasn't expecting any drama over it.  

But amazingly to me, Jennifer Barge posted this comment on my Facebook page in reaction to that.  . 
  • ??every voice??
  • Monica Roberts It's the sister org to Black Transmen, Inc.
  • Jennifer M. Barge I know what it is- I helped to create it- but I am wondering why- with sooo much work- as a whole community- we [ the trans]are choosing to segregate the transgender community- when at this powerful moment we ALL NEED TO STAND STRONG- and I am not calling you out- just wanting to know why my "white" story is not as good as yours? I mean you went to college- I went to prison- you are educated- I ate out of a dumpster and am HIV +[ and survived by selling my body-] and came from the streets..I just ask when do I get heard?? The gay male privilege community threw me under a bus 17 years ago- {how I wish I was gay back then- as my meds would have been paid for] but NO- I am trans- and the white trans- HIV + -convict story is over looked because "we" do not fit a profile?? Well that is- umm racism- trust me a white convict is just as good [bad] as a black [ oh- sorry person of non specific color] convict Just know- I know my truth...and feel the lack of importance in "my" community.

    Monica Roberts And yeah, Jennifer, yes you did try to step to me on my own page over a logo.

    Seriously? School is now in session.

    Racism is prejudice plus systemic power. That's basic Sociology 101. The reality of American life is that by dint of you being born with white skin, you still have far more societal juice than I ever will have.

    As I wrote in February and it is just as applicable today.:

    ' We warned you that if something wasn't done about trans leadership ranks that resembled a GOP convention and you kept ignoring our pleas to change that and share the responsibility of leading this diverse community, the day was going to happen that we made our own damned tables and we wouldn't care if you liked it or not. "--TransGriot , February 8, 2014 'Why Y'all 'Scurred' Of Black Trans People Owning Their Power?

    That day is here. The Black Trans Renaissance  is happening. All we are doing is what the white trans community has done for the last several decades. We are building community infrastructure while we own our power and deal with the shame, guilt and fear issues among others in our ranks.

    A strong, muscular and powerful Black trans community confidently owning its power and giving itself options shouldn't be seen as a threat by white transpeople.

    And if you do see that as a threat, why?

    The trans community is only as strong as its weakest link, and Black trans people are simply taking the steps to make ourselves a more potent coalition partner and give ourselves options as any free people would intelligently do.
She then retreated to her own Facebook page to write this:. 
We can all try so hard to make "change" happen- and also try to live up to mainstreams perception of a transgender leader - be it a "black-trans-woman,inc" or a poc or a "hall of fame" participant in regard to transgender- but guess what? shockingly we are all the same...not all of us have a blog or choose to hold onto 5,000 friends on FaceBook- but WE have a path and a story- lets not continue to confirm the mainstream idea of celebrity within our community- it is great we have the Laverne Cox - But let us never forget the Holly Boswell- Virginia Prince and Renee Richards along with James Greene-they paved a way to make "us" happen-
My response to the comment she posted on her own Facebook page was the following:. 
And what you just did was erase Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major, Marsha P Johnson, the African-American gender variant kids who executed the Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit-In in Philly in April-May 1965.

Without them, and especially Sylvia Rivera jumping off the Stonewall Riots in 1969, there would be no trans rights movement for Renee Richards, Jamison Green or Holly Boswell to take part in.

Which FYI, I've met two of the three along with the mother of the trans rights movement in Sylvia Rivera in May 2000.
This movement has been centered on white trans voices for six decades, and now that non-white transpeople are finally getting face time, media coverage and recognition, y'all wanna trip.


Geena Rocero at a TED talkSo why are you and your fellow white transpeople mad that non-white trans people are getting positive recognition when you've had the spotlight on you ever since Christine Jorgensen stepped off the plane from Denmark and a trans movement predominately centered on your issues for the last six decades? 

It took the formation of the multicultural National Transgender Advocacy Coalition in 1999 ( that yours truly was the Political Director of from 1999-2002) before this community even started saying the words HIV/AIDS and talking about it as part of trans community policy discourse.   One of the seminars at the inaugural Transsistahs-Transbrothas conference we held in Louisville back in 2005 was presented by Miss Major, who discussed the issues incarcerated trans people face.    . 

We happen to be in the spotlight now, but this attention doesn't do justice to the time and hard work we all put in to make it happen.   Laverne Cox has been toiling for almost a decade before getting the breaks that led to her role on Orange Is The New Black and the subsequent well-deserved media attention.

Janet Mock was earning her masters degree and busting her behind as a editor before coming out as trans and writing her New York Times bestselling book Redefining Realness.  Same with Geena Rocero, who was a fashion model before coming out as trans to conduct her well received TED talk and form her international organization Gender Proud.   Dr. Kortney R. Ziegler is a filmmaker, blogger and the creative genius behind Trans*H4CK.  Isis King's movie Hello Forever will be playing soon at a film festival near you and Tona Brown will soon be performing on the hallowed Carnegie Hall stage.  .

Same with Ruby Corado, BTMI founder Carter Brown, Bamby Salcedo, Cecilia Chung, Maria Roman, Arianna Lint, Tiq Milan, Kye Allums, Kylar Broadus and the multitalented MMA fighter Fallon Fox.

We trans peeps of color all put the work in, paid our dues, got little to no recognition for a while and are now receiving the rewards from doing so.   You can dismiss it as 'confirming the mainstream idea of celebrity' all you want, I and the trans community of color see it as 'getting the long overdue recognition we deserve'. 

We've been erased from a 60 year vanillacentric trans narrative that barely mentioned the existence of trans people of color in a positive light unless we were talked about in 'tragic transsexual' terms if and when we did get the media coverage.  

And yeah, since you went there trying to throw shade at unapologetically Black blogging me, I've been part of this movement for 16 years and counting as my 2006 IFGE Trinity Award and being a inaugural Trans 100 honoree emphatically underscores.  

I've been busting my behind for the last eight years building TransGriot to be the internationally read and GLAAD award nominated platform it is now and voice for the African-American and other communities who get to guest post here. 

I'm proud of founding a popular blog that is unapologetically Afrocentric, focuses on transpeople of African descent, has highlighted much of our history,  and is widely read around the planet.   While I talk about a wide variety of trans and non trans issues, some of you whine about the heightened positive attention we trans POC's are receiving and you stage intramural arguments egged on by white gay men savaging each other about whether shemale and the t-word are slurs.

Yeah, they are.   End of story.    And I'd be willing to bet that Carter and Esperanza Brown aren't apologizing for founding BTMI, BTWI or starting the Black Trans Advocacy Conference either.   
The reason organizations like the TransLatin@ Coalition and BTMI/BTWI exist along with the Black Trans Advocacy Conference is because contrary to your assertion, we transpeople of color aren't 'just trans'.  We exist with multiple intersections in our trans bodies and don't have the luxury as you and other white transpeople do of going about our daily lives separating our ethnicity from our trans status.  

We trans POC's have to deal with the reality that racism exists in microaggressive and macroaggressive ways and deleteriously affects us inside and outside trans and SGL spaces. We are deeply aware of the fact we trans people of color are judged by our skin color first.   We are seen as Latin@, Black and Asian-Pacific Islanders first, and have to grapple with racism and the other issues that impact our communities before we can even begin to tackle the trans specific ones.   

There are issues unique to our communities that these organizations are better suited to address.  Trans Latinas and trans Asian-Pacific islanders are dealing with immigration issues along with the common ones like racism, the crushing unemployment-underemployment, HIV/AIDS, dealing with shame, fear and guilt, erasure from the trans narrative and accurate documentation.  

And as we are reminded every TDOR, the name lists we read have an unacceptably high number of Black and Latina transpeople. 

We also have as trans persons of color the task of trying to educate our socially conservative leaning communities about trans issues.  We have the unique know how, expertise and talking points that will best facilitate this ongoing mission.   And it can only help the trans community as a whole to have trans people of color talking to other cis people of color about these issues.

Janet's best selling book and Laverne's award winning work have probably done more in the last two years to speed up trans awareness and acceptance in the African-American community than the last 60 years of activism.. 

So I ask the question again.  What is wrong with non-white transpeople doing the same thing white transpeople have done for several decades in terms of building community amongst ourselves?  Why are you so 'scurred' of non-white transpeople owning their power?   Why are you jealous of us getting media attention after being erased from the trans narrative for the last six decades?

Non-white transpeople closing ranks in order to become a stronger, more cohesive part of the greater trans society is a long overdue and necessary step.   Having possibility models that we can proudly point to like Janet, Laverne, Kortney and countless others not only says to our transkids of color we exist, but sends the same message to our communities of color. 

And if you Jennifer and the people who share your narrow, vanillacentric privileged opinion can't see the benefits to you and the entire trans community of non-white transpeople owning their power, then that's an issue you and your friends will have to do some serious soul searching about.

You and your fellow white trans peeps grousing in your not so quiet Internet rooms about all the attention POC transpeople are getting now can #bemad and #staymad about that.  

And there are even more amazing trans activists of color in our wake who will exceed even what we're doing now that you can be jealous about like Cherno Biko, Parker T. Hurley, Tye West, Reina Gossett, Morgan Robyn Collado and Angelica Ross just to name a few. .   

As this country becomes more diverse and speeds toward the 2040 day in which non-white people will be a majority of the United States population, it was inevitable the trans community would also reflect that demographic shift since we are a microcosm of the parent society.

We need as a trans community to adjust to that looming reality and train a multicultural cadre of trans leaders.   It is also past time that some of the leaders of this community and the people sitting at trans community policy tables reflect the ethnic diversity of the trans community at large.

And if you don't want us sitting at yours, we'll do what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents did and make our own damned tables.    We will also as free trans people of color decide as we own our power what groups we wish to ally ourselves with.   Bottom line is get used to the fact we are no longer powerless junior partners, but people who do have growing circles of influence we can use to not only uplift our communities of color, but the trans community as well.     

So choose wisely.   You can either embrace what's going on or be 'scurred' of it   But either way it is going to continue regardless of what you and your friends think pro or con.   

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