Monday, October 26, 2015

Open Letter To My Cis Feminine HS Classmate Colleen

Dear Colleen,
I'm writing this open letter to you since you blocked me for rebutting this transphobic comment you unleashed on your personal Facebook page on Sunday night.

if you were not born a woman, you don't belong in a women's bathroom. i could care less what you identify as

So yeah, not gonna lie, that comment hurt.  It was also hurtful to see many of the cis women that I like, am proud of and admire on one level or another in The Class With Class cosign your transphobia.   But what pissed my unapologetically Black trans behind off was when you exercised your right since it was your page to delete my responses to it.

Fortunately as an internationally recognized award winning trans human rights advocate and writer, I have a big award winning platform I can use to turn this transphobic Facebook lemon of a comment into teachable moment lemonade you denied me the opportunity to do on your page Sunday morning.

I'm also reading your comment several days after becoming the first African-American trans person and the second Texan to be honored by my community with the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award and several hours before I took three bumpy flights back home to Texas.   I was anxious to get back in the fight to keep the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance I fought hard last year along with other Houstonians to pass and cast my YES vote in favor of Prop 1.

I also read your microaggressive comment after spending an amazing and empowering week here in Provincetown. MA enveloped in love and gratitude by Fantasia Fair attendees, townspeople and others for being my awesome self along with the repeated thanks for being a human rights warrior

Colleen, as you stated in your subsequent e-mail to me this morning, you have every right to express yourself on your Facebook page. You most certainly do.  I also have the reciprocal right and the duty to call your behind out on it and not let the foul stench of transphobic bigotry in my Houston Black community ranks go unchallenged because that has been happening far too much lately.

Black trans people exist in Houston and everywhere else on this planet, we aren't going back in the closet to make you feel better about yourselves and neither are we going to quietly whimper and cry in the corner as our humanity is attacked.

Just in case you and the preachers in the Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity didn't notice or keep trying to ignore, I'm Black.  I did not lose my Black Like Me card when I transitioned, nor will I allow you or anyone else to police my femininity simply because you were fortunate enough to have your body and brain line up when you were born two months before me in 1962.

First off, I and my trans sisters have to poop and pee just like any other human beings on the planet. and have been doing so in bathrooms marked female for over 50 years    I and my trans sisters are not 'men' as you disrespectfully put it and increasing medical research will confirm for you that the organ that determines your gender identity and how you express it is between the ears, not your legs,

Medical science and increasing research is also pointing out that gender is not the rigid binary system it was assumed and taught when we were in school, but is a non-binary spectrum.

And if you don't like the fact I will be going to the bathroom marked 'female' at any future JJ class event I have the time to attend and pay my hard earned money to do so, too bad.   BTW, there are trans men who happen to possess the same genitalia you do, but damned sure aren't women.

The bathroom predator meme you and Ben Hall have recited has been widely debunked in Texas and elsewhere , and if any person goes into a bathroom for the purposes of committing a criminal act, they will be prosecuted for it.  The keeping of HERO will not change that as HPD Chief McClellan pointed out.
This bathroom predator meme is also derived from the same talking points used by the GOP oppressors you're siding with they aimed at our parents and grandparents to justify Jim Crow segregation.

The sad part Colleen, is that you are a prime example in just how successful the anti-HERO peeps were in getting transphobic attitudes implanted in elements of the cis Black community it will take us years to root out.

And just to make one more point, I don't live as you commented in our private conversation a 'trans life.'   I live a life period that is a much better quality one than when I was miserably walking the halls of JJ and sitting in my Vanguard classes in a body that didn't match the person inside.

It is a life in which I have been to the White House five times. It is a life in which I get to talk to college students here and across the country. It is a life in which I can pick up the phone and call Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Dr Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Geena Rocero and countless others just to say hello.  It is a life in which Jazz Jennings and her amazing family and the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement are a small sample of the people I have been fortunate to meet in the 21 years and counting I have been me.

It is a life in which my cis and trans friends live around the world, I get to attend conferences, do panel discussions and talk to the attendees as I was doing last week during Fantasia Fair in Massachusetts.

It is a life in which I not only get blessed to make history, it is also one in which I practice the principles of my Christian faith rooted in Kingian love and Black liberation theology to fight and call out oppression wherever and whenever it pops up.

And I'm just not fighting for trans specific human rights issues.  I was speaking out at those hearings at Jones and HISD headquarters when they tried to close JJ.  I spoke at a Trayvon Martin rally on the Houston city hall steps in the wake of his 2013 murder.

And I was there in all three City Council hearings of pro and anti- HERO testimony enduring 10 plus hour days to get a human rights law that protects all Houstonians passed.   It is a law that provides ALL Houstonians in 15 categories a local remedy against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations we all need that you wish to vote against because of a HERO opposition lie.

As for being blocked from your Facebook page, no big deal to me when I have other people who love, care about and respect the person I am now add me to theirs.

But what I do hope and pray happens for you is evolution and reevaluation of your current anti-trans position.

You don't have to like me.  You don't even have to speak to me ever again in life. Your loss.  You and other misguided folks can exercise your right to vote against the HERO and think you're sticking it to Mayor Parker, the Houston LGBT community, and me.

But before you do that, some food for thought.  54% of the complaints filed with the Houston OIG tasked with investigating HERO complaints before it was unjustly suspended by SCOTX were for RACIAL discrimination, followed by 17% for GENDER discrimination.

And the very people spreading the anti-trans lie at the behest of their Republican masters like Kendall Baker are guilty of sexual harassment or worse.  But those are the ignorant cis masculine folks you are listening to when you have a classmate who actually lives at this very moment as a trans feminine woman, has unapologetically done so for 21 years and who does seminars and panel discussions on these issues.

As the testimony of Judge Alexandra Smoots-Hogan and Dan Scarbrough points out, discrimination is still happening in H-town, and you would be voting to kill the HERO and against your own human rights based on a monstrous lie.

God bless you Colleen, and may you have ever increasing blessings in your life.

Your Classmate,

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