Thursday, August 18, 2016

Open Letter To My Young Trans Sister Trinity

How This Black Mom Is Making a Better World for Her Trans Daughter
Dear Trinity,
I had the pleasure of meeting you and your mother during the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference back in June.  She has expressed her concerns to me that you've been a little down lately because when you see these numerous social media lists compiled of transgender leaders, advocates and history makers, there are far too often those times when those lists don't have people on them who reflect your ethnic heritage.

Your mom is concerned that you have expressed the sentiment that if you wish to be an advocate for this community, you need to be a pretty white girl to do so.  That's alarming and a problem for me and every African-American trans person who has been on the front lines of this movement for decades to make the world better for you to grow up in just as it is a concern for your mother..

It's also one of the reasons why I founded TransGriot ten years ago so that young trans kids like yourself and our allies know beyond a shadow of a doubt that people like us were not only saying it loud we were Black and proud, we are also proud unapologetically Black trans people who made major contributions to building this trans movement and making trans history.

We Black trans people have been a major part of this trans rights movement ever since it kicked off with a Black trans woman by the name of Marsha P. Johnson throwing the shot glass that started the Stonewall Riots and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy being there as it happened.  Marsha stood side by side with Sylvia Rivera as early leaders standing up for the rights of trans people as that nascent TBLG rights movement took shape.

Just four years before that in April-May 1965, it was gender variant kids like you who told the owners of Dewey's Lunch Counter in Philly in a sit in and protest that lasted several days they wouldn't accept being treated like second class citizens.

One of the people who helped found GenderPac, that organized several Washington DC lobby days in the 90's was a Philadelphia based Black trans woman named Dionne Stallworth.   You have trailblazing Black trans feminine leaders who are history makers themselves in Dawn Wilson and Marisa Richmond based in Louisville and Nashville, and Lorrainne Sade Baskerville who was handling her human rights business on behalf of our community in Chicago.

And that's even before I talk about some of your trans masculine uncles who paved the way, blazed trails and helped pass trans rights legislation like Marcelle Cook-Daniels, Alexander John Goodrum, and Kylar Broadus.   Trans men are still making major contributions to our leadership ranks today like Carter Brown, Jevon Martin, Diwa Cain, Joshua Holiday, Vann Millhouse,  Mister Cris, BT in the Atlanta area, and Dr Kortney Ziegler just to name a few.

Even our trans cousins on the African continent and in the Caribbean like Audrey Mbugua of Kenya and Ashily Dior, and Tru Wilson in Canada have been fighting in their various nations across the Diaspora to advance the human rights of trans people in their respective nations and worldwide.

A certain blogger you met in Philadelphia also has done her share over the last 18 years to advance the human rights of our community in her home state of Texas and beyond, but that's a story I can tell you the next time we spend quality time together.

We also have some amazing Black trans people blazing trails today in various fields like Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Tona Brown ,Valerie Spencer. Tracee McDaniel, Andrea Jenkins, Kim Watson, Cheryl Courtney- Evans and emerging trans feminine leaders like Raquel Willis, Tiommi Luckett, Bryanna Jenkins, Elle Hearns, Sharron Cooks, La La Zannell, Monica Jones, CeCe McDonald, and Precious Brady Davis just to name a few.

So my dearest Trinity, if you are wishing to contribute to advancing the human rights of our community, know this from me and all your Black trans elders that you have a proud history and legacy of leadership to build upon, and plenty of trans aunts and uncles who stand ready to help you become the best advocate for our community you can be if that is what you wish to do.


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