Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hard Solid Thinking About The State Of The Black Trans Community

One of the things I was contemplating during my downtime at Out on the Hill, while riding the Washington Metro and on the plane ride home is the state of the Black trans community.  

During the Transgender Person of Color (TPOC) breakout session, one of the things that was foremost on our minds amongst the participants in it was the vast gulf between us and the white trans community on many issues. 

One glaring issue of difference is one that was pointed out to us by our cis female allies.  They noted that white transpeople are quicker to declare they are out and proud of being a transperson   

Trans pride is much easier to declare and maintain when everything and every happy-happy joy-joy positive image about being trans in America reflects a vanillacentric heritage.   It's easier to be proud of being trans when the history of the community overwhelmingly reflects you.    It's easier to be proud of being trans when the leadership ranks and people driving the policy agenda and thinking look like you and the voices speaking for it are predominately white.  It's also easier to be an out and proud trans person when you're not facing a life and death struggle to survive and off the charts violence aimed at you as evidenced in DC lately.

For us to improve the state of the Black trans community means we are going to have to reverse the spirit crushing negativity connected with being Black and trans in America and the ills that disproportionately impact our community. 

We as a chocolate trans community must reclaim our history.  It's hard for us to be proud of who we are as trans people of African descent if we don't know our history, where we've been, how far we've come and pass it on.   You will find nuggets of that history here at TransGriot and not just every February.

We must celebrate our leaders and icons, point out our successes, be honest about our failures and rectify them while relentlessly pointing out we are African descended Americans who demand our human rights be respected and protected.      
We must also call out and put an end to the anti-trans bigotry and hatred aimed at us from people inside and outside the African American community, including our LGB/SGL brothers and sisters.

We also have to work on ourselves internally.   We must deal with our shame and guilt issues in the African descended trans community that prevent us from claiming our power  

As we build that chocolate trans community that reflects or pride in ourselves and our values, it is going to be a long, hard process in which we will have to conduct some serious internal and external family conversations along the way, but have those conversations we will.  

I was heartened to hear during this just concluded OUT on the Hill week in the many conversations I was honored and privileged to be involved in that the NBJC, their BOD, their outstanding ED/CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks and other leaders inside and outside the African American LGBT community are committed to ensuring the 'T' stays capitalized an an integral part of our Black LGBT movement.  Our Black LGB/SGL leaders and allies also want us to realize and made it clear to me that we are a valued and necessary part of the coalition, not an afterthought.

They are quite aware that I and other trans leaders are going to hold them to that standard. and they are going to hold me and us to some standards as well.   .

I'm going to contribute my talents in leading that effort on the unapologetically Black electronic pages of TransGriot to hammer home that out and proud message as a necessary first step in us 'Owning Our Power' . 

I want to role model that Black trans pride in my hometown and elsewhere.  I'm plan on lifting up and highlighting the stories of trans leaders of African descent locally, across the state of Texas, nationally and across the Diaspora who are providing visionary leadership but aren't getting the recognition and love they deserve for it.   

I'm going to do that even if I am the only person or blog doing so.   It's past time my diverse hometown had trans leadership and a trans community that reflects the city of Houston's diversity   

Starting today, the 'T' will no longer be silent for transpeople of color in Houston or the state of Texas.  I am busy compiling a short term and long term plan to help achieve that long needed goal.

And yes, that diversity needs to happen on the national level as well.

We Black trans people are starting that process of closing ranks with our African descended GLB/SGL brothers and sisters in order to be a stronger, more cohesive part of the communities we intersect with we must have that happen.  

The African American TBLG community and the overall African American community needs our talents that we bring to the table and we can no longer afford to waste or ignore them.   At the same time, we African descended trans people have to own our power and do our part as well.

To my trans younglings, stay in school and get that 'ejumacation'   Your elders are aware of and beginning to address the bullying issues on the local and federal levels in order to make your schools safe zones for you to focus on your books from the elementary school to collegiate level. 

We are beginning the process of having HBCU's make the same kinds of advances for trans students as their white counterparts have been engaged in and have proudly trumpeted they have done for a decade or longer.
But it all starts Black trans community with us being proud of who we are and demanding our human rights. .   It's all about a comprehensive program that addresses the shame and guilt issues, aggressively attacks our problems, builds pride and self esteem and channels that pride and self esteem into action that will uplift our entire community.

This is nothing earth shattering I'm talking about.   It's the same blueprint our people used to overcome slavery, Jim Crow racism, and jumpstart the civil rights movement .   We just have to tweak that blueprint so that it works for us as well. 
Say it loud, we're Black, transgender and proud.  Name it, claim it and own that label. 

Now let's get busy closing ranks so that we can become a greater, more powerful, more cohesive part of the African American community and the trans one as well.

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