Sunday, April 05, 2009

In the Black Community, Our Allies Deserve More Than A Cookie

I'm keenly aware of the fact that womanists have long supported and embraced transwomen, and it's one of many reasons I've embraced and claimed the label for myself as well.

One of the things I'm gratified to see lately is more of my cisgender sisters who may or may not claim the womanist label stepping out there on their own blogs to talk about transgender issues and how we fit into the sisterhood.

And when they do I encourage and applaud them for doing so.

I recently left this comment on Twanna A. Hines' funkybrownchick blog on a post she'd written about transgender children.

I definitely don't pretend I'm an expert on the topic, though I'm always open to learn more.

And that's all we ask for Twanna. I'm willing along with other transpeople to openly talk about our lives and provide that 'ejumacation' if my cisgender brothers and sisters will open their hearts and minds and listen..

The point is we transpeople have always been a part of the AA community, and we didn't forfeit our Blackness when we transitioned.

All we want is to be able to contribute our talents to uplift the race and peacefully live our own lives free from harassment .

I don't think that's too much to ask.

While I agree with my H-town sistah Jo Jo in theory on the valid points she made in this post while talking about the 'no cookies' policy, I think when it comes to transgender people, it's different.

We're so used to having to slog it almost alone and getting slimed in the process, even by our allies. When we finally do run across someone who takes being an ally seriously, complete with the willingness to educate themselves on the issues, first we're shocked, then we treat them as the precious jewel they are.

If we get to call them 'friend' it's even more of a blessing.

In the African-American community, we need to get up to speed on transgender issues. There's too much faith-based ignorance and misinformation floating around about transgender people of African descent despite the fact we've been part of the community since before we took the involuntary boat rides to the Americas.

All you have to do is peruse the comment threads on stories about transgender people to see that.

Our cisgender female allies who do talk up these issues are looked at with crossed eyes, or if they state for the record they have transgender girlfriends have their femininity questioned.

With coordinated information sharing and action from us and our cisgender sisters, we can help break down that wall of ignorance, have those informed conversations and begin to get the resistant element of the Black community to see that we're proud Black people, too.

For those of you who take up that challenge, not only do you deserve a cookie, you've earned a standing ovation and our deepest thanks as well.

Once the applause fades from that standing o, then we go back to diligently working to create a better community for all of us.


Nico said...

I enjoy learning from your blog -- thanks for writing it. A question about this post so I can learn more: you speak very specifically here about cisgender female allies. Do you feel differently about cisgender male allies? Do you feel the same about cisgender male allies but are simply having a conversation here that is specific to sisterhood? I ask without any intention other than to understand some more. Thanks!

Monica Roberts said...

Separate post on that coming soon

Twanna A. Hines | said...

Yes, I want a damn cookie. ;) I prefer chocolate chip -- though Oreos will do just fine, too ... but none of that "double stuff" or "peppermint" sh!t. I only like the old-fashioned, simple Oreos that have two choc cookies with the thin layer of white creamy stuff smeared in the middle. ;)

On a more serious note, GREAT post and thanks for the shout out. :)

Renee said...

Another great post. I understand why you say that you treat allies like a rare jewel but I just wanted to point out that if you decide to work in favour of trans rights the impetus should be because you value all human beings and not because you want some kind of leftist card or reward. All activism needs to start from a firm belief that all people matter.

Monica Roberts said...

You're on target with that point as well that all bodies and people matter.

You would think that's a no brainer, but sometimes that gets lost in our civil rights work.

Dennis R. Upkins said...


Excellent post as always.

In addition to your warm spirit and excellent posts, one of the things I enjoy about your blog is that I'm learning about the trans experience.

Even as a double minority (a POC and an LGBT), I'll be the first to admit, I don't know much about trans issues. It's not because I'm a bad person (at least I try not to be) and not because I don't want to learn.

Unfortunately my exposure to trans has been limited, even within the gay community. And having learned of the bigotry they face from gays, I see why.

That's why I thank God for him sending you my way. You and the blogs of other trans friends that I've made recently.

Because I want to be that ally and be the change I wish to see in the world. Because when one of us face injustice or oppression, we all do. All human beings matter and all should be treated as such.

I'm willing to learn with an open mind and an open heart.

So thank you for your work, and know that it is never in vain. May God continue to bless you.






Hey there Monica!

I think it is important for black women who are allies of the transcommunity to share their experiences with others by using the power of the blogosphere! I believe that these online discussions will cause many to rethink some of their own fears and biases... at the very least...those fears can be placed on the table and examined closely without judgments and hostility being hurled their way.

Peace, blessings and godliness,

Unknown said...

I totally understand why you feel this way. Transwomen deal with so so much from all directions, I get it when some of the women I know seem ecstatic to have someone on their side when a cissexual person stands up for trans issues. But it is sad when allies are so few and far between that transwomen feel so grateful to have them. Yes, allies are awesome, but I agree with Renee, it shouldn't make a difference whether anyone is giving you mad props, just for acting as if 'all people matter'.

But you know, it is a bit scary to write about things you don't have first hand experience with, because you might screw up. So I do think it's helpful for allies when folks point out when they are right on, and where they could learn more, as long as it doesn't feel like an obligation.