Monday, February 01, 2010

Black Transpeople Are Making Black History, Too

It's Day One of Black History Month. It's the time that we set aside to honor our past, celebrate the present and look forward tom our future.

As the child and godchild of historians I believe that every month is Black History Month, but I've already talked about that in a previous post.

What I wanted to do is focus on the Black History that is being made by people like me, transpeople of African descent.

Some of it sadly has been lost to us because of our invisibility, but there has been a surprising amount of it recorded in unexpected sources like EBONY, JET and Sepia Magazines.

Increasing numbers of blogs like TransGriot penned by African descended transpeople are helping to record the history that Black transpeople are making today for future generations and provide knowledge of role models that African descended transkids can look up to today.

Just like the overall story of our people, we have an interesting one to tell and it's still being written.

I'm more than a little tired of the erasure of the efforts and contributions that Black transpeople have made to the overall GLBT rights movement and making history in the context of living their lives.

We can't allow the contributions of Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, Alexander John Goodrum and countless others to just fade away. That's a travesty for our transkids who are growing up without knowing that history.

It's also important for cis African-Americans to realize that we trans African Americans are integral parts of the community, not tragic murder victims. We have people who are not only proud to be Black, but are fighting to have our human rights recognized at the same time we fight to advance the entire African American community.

So yes, it's important for cis African descended people to know who our three African American IFGE Trinity winners are. It's important for them to know that Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major were part of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. It's important for people to know who Lorrainne Sade Baskerville is, or what Earline Budd has done to make the lives of transpeople in the Washington DC area a little brighter.

It's important to talk about the 1965 Dewey's Lunch Counter Protest in Philly being not only one of the first instances of a protest organized around trans specific issues. but being a predominately African-American production as well.

And just like I can tick off the top of my head who was the first African-American to do various things or head an organization, cis African-Americans need to know that Zion Johnson was the first African-American head of FTMI.

They need to be aware that Dr. Marisa Richmond was the first African American transperson to be elected a delegate to a major party convention, Dawn Wilson was our first IFGE Trinity Award winner in 2000, and Valerie Spencer was part of the first all transgender performance of the Vagina Monologues in 2004 among the other work she does in the LA area.

African descended people cis and trans need to be aware of Alexander John Goodrum being the founder and director of TGNet Arizona, one of the first statewide transgender organizations in the United States or Avon Wilson being one of the first people to go through the now closed Johns Hopkins Gender Program.

They need to know that NTAC, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition was founded in 1999 with the help of African descended trans and intersex people and the first two chairs of the multicultural organization were African American and Afro Latino.

I've picked up the torch that writer Roberta Angela Dee left when she passed on in 2003. I'll only be able to carry it forward for a certain amount of time before I have to one day hand it off to my successor.

But while it's in my hands, I will do as much as I can to tell our story. It's one of my Prime Directives at TransGriot to document and talk about that history. Because if I don't do it, who will?

Contrary to what some people and our haters may think, African descended transpeople are not only part of the community, we're making Black history as well.

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