Friday, June 08, 2012

Netroots Nation Prepared Trans Panel Remarks

TransGriot Note: In the preplanning conference call session we engaged in before the June 8 event we were originally going to present individual five minute statements about our takes on the Blogging For Transgender Equality topic   The decision was made to cut that down to two minutes before heading to the conference room on Friday morning so there would be more time for questions and answers from the interactive panel

So what follows is the statement I came up with and practiced a few times based on having five minutes to read it.  But with the individual initial presentation times in the panel discussion being cut to two minutes I basically had to wing it and use what I felt were the most important parts I wanted to convey to the panel discussion audience.

Anyway, here's the text of the full statement 


I'm Monica Roberts, the founding editor of TransGriot and have been an award winning activist since 1998

I thank GLAD, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders for the invite to take part in this historic panel at Netroots Nation and hope and pray this is just the beginning of many more to come.

The clock is ticking on my five minutes, so let me discuss my take on our topic of Blogging For Transgender Equality and its history, challenges and progress from my Afrocentric perspective.

As trans blogging took off around 2005 one of the things I noted is like the general vanillacentric trans narrative, the one in the emerging Transosphere was also framing issues and discussions from the perspectives of my white transbrothers and transsisters.  I was complaining about that in a November 2005 phone call with Jordana LeSesne when she  bluntly asked me, "So when are you going to start your own blog?"

At midnight on January 1, 2006 TransGriot was born with the mission of reclaiming and discussing Black trans history, talking about rainbow community issues from an Afrocentric perspective and discussing  trans developments across the African Diaspora. Six years, over 5500 posts and 3.8 million hits later it's still going strong

Another one of the reasons I founded TransGriot can be summed up by the words of W.E.B DuBois. He wrote in the 1906 Niagara Movement platform, 'We refuse to allow the impression to remain that we assent to inferiority, are submissive under oppression, and apologize before insults." 
If you haven't heard, Black transpeople are catching hell as the National Transgender Discrimination Survey documented last year.  The enemies of the trans community have had a four decade run of negatively defining our community and playtime is over.

We're sick and tired of being sick and tired of the lack of visibility, the erasure of our trans heroes and sheroes who helped build this community, the lack of knowledge and ignorance about current trans African-Americans who are continuing to uplift themselves, th trans community and do their part to uplift the race at the same time.

One of the challenges of blogging for trans equality from my perspective is that trans blogs, much less those of trans people of color aren't well known.   People have heard of Pam's House blend or Rod 2.0 beta but not mine.  When blogging awards get decided in the LGBT category I get nominated but it's rare I win them. 

Many of the Black trans blogs that got started after mine shut down for various reasons but probably because of economics and those persons coming to realize that putting out quality posts on a consistent basis is hard work, time consuming, and won't be a quick route to fame and fortune.  It also costs money to buy and maintain computers, Internet connections, et cetera which is why I have that donation button on the left hand side columns of TransGriot.

As an African-American trans social justice blogger, when I comment on race and class issues in this community, non POC's get nervous, defensive or hostile and call me 'racist', 'violent', 'angry' or 'divisive' for doing so which is draining and microaggressive.

Damn right I'm angry about oppression aimed at transpeople.  I sure am not a happy camper about losing young Black transwomen to anti-trans violence at the rate of two per month.  I'm also not going to be silent about the racism and injustice inside and outside the TBLG community that deleteriously affects our lives because if I don't call it out, that's activism malpractice.

In closing, how do we progress to the point that Nelson Mandela described of ensuring that color, race and gender become only a God-given gift to each one of us and not an indelible mark that a special status to any?   The Transosphere and trans bloggers will play a major role in this decade and beyond in making that world a reality.  

Blogging has already helped raise the profiles of African-American trans people enough to make cis people realize we exist and not just as 'tragic transsexuals'.  

People inside and outside the African-American community are becoming aware of the fact we are part of kente cloth fabric of African-American life.   They are becoming cognizant of the fact we have trans heroes and sheroes, visionary trans leaders and history makers, and people more than capable enough to lead the entire trans community and not a small section of it.   It's also helping us become a part of the greater community even as we are simultaneously closing ranks and organizing in the Black Trans Revolution that will not be televised. 

The Transopshere has finally given African-American transpeople and other POC bloggers the powerful platform to amplify their voices and say, "We're here, we exist, we aren't going away, and you will respect our humanity and our human rights." 

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