Friday, December 16, 2011

Sorry Toni, Sharon Davis' Book Was The First Written And Published About A Black Transperson's Transistion

I posted a comment over at The Luckey Star blog which points out an incorrect assertion in a post on that blog about African American trans firsts.   The author of it claims that Toni Newman's I Rise book is the first one written by an African American transperson about their transition.

Umm no, it isn't.   Sharon Davis beat her to that historic distinction by over a decade.   Davis' book A Finer Specimen Of Womanhood: A Transsexual Speaks Out was published in 1986.

Me making that point stirred up the Toni Newman defenders to come rushing to the post in which the erroneous comment was made and people in the comment threads went to some interesting lengths to furiously spin, obfuscate, belittle Davis' book and outright try to erase that inconvenient and irrefutable fact.

ISBN numbers don't lie.    Neither does this July 1, 1999 review someone wrote about Davis' book or the JET magazine article written about her..

Format: Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0533061784
ISBN-13: 9780533061785
Publisher: Vantage Press
Language: English

Here's the October 16, 1983 JET magazine article which is available for your perusal in the online EBONY/JET magazine digital archives in which Ms. Davis talks about her book.

As Davis said in the foreword to that book:

"The aim of my story is to provide courage and offer hope to those human beings caught in bodies their souls cannot accommodate.  I was one of those unhappy persons who as a transsexual, found a new life and the happiness that had eluded me in my previous body."

Sharon Davis' book was available for purchase for several years like many books by trans authors were courtesy of the International Foundation For Gender Education's Synchronicity bookstore during the 90's.  

Let me make it clear to you people rushing to Toni Newman's defense on that blog.  I have nothing against her.  Brava and props to Ms. Newman for writing her book, doing what she needed to do to get it published and the rumored screenplay that may be coming out of it.    

What I have a severe problem with as an IFGE Trinity Award winning trailblazing activist who happens to be the child and godchild of historians is when you erroneously claim yours is the first to be written by an African American transsexual when it demonstrably isn't. 

There's also another autobiographical book about a Black transwoman that's being ignored that was written about The Lady Chablis in 1996 called Hiding My Candy.

But what I'm not happy about is the erasure of our history.   Just as I have a problem with it and call it out when it is done unto us by non-Black people, I have just as much problem with it when Black people engage in it.   

Our history as transpeople of African descent needs to be told and I'm deliriously happy when people do so.  But don't erase someone else's accomplishment to put your own in a better light.  . 

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