Friday, April 05, 2013

Will My Transsisters Have The Pleasure Of Growing Old?

I hit the Big 5-0 last year and I'm four weeks from hopefully reaching another Cuatro De Mayo celebration and turning 51.  

But that knowledge that I'm cruising toward another May 4 birthday has been jolted by two murders of African-American transwomen in the span of 48 hours in Baltimore and Orlando.

29 year old Kelly Young and 30 year old Ashley Sinclair will not only never celebrate another birthday, they will never get to know what I felt when I hit age 40, much less age 50. I'm also thinking about the fact that had I not made the correct decisions one night back in 1996, I may not have made it to my 40th or 50th birthdays either and this post much less this blog wouldn't be here for you to enjoy..

The details of the Young and Sinclair murders are still being sorted out by the police departments in the cities they resided in, but we can presume that both of them being girls like us is probably a contributing factor to them being killed.   Their deaths have ripple effects not only for their families and friends, but all the people whose lives they touched.

I recall a conversation Janet Mock, Kimberley McLeod and I had during OUT on the Hill last year in which we talked about me hitting that milestone.  I was ambivalent about it until Janet reminded me it was a blessing for me to be this age and as an African descended trans woman I'd beaten the odds stacked against me to celebrate my 40th and 50th birthdays. (And if I continue to be blessed with good health, I hope to be around for my 60th.)

That was a sobering though that shook me out of my ambivalence toward hitting 50.  All of a sudden realizing as I did before that OUT on the Hill trans woman town hall that I was now an elder stateswoman that the girls like us of Janet's generation and younger were counting on for leadership, to pass down their history to them, be a mentor and most of all be role models as to how a trans woman can age gracefully and still be a fierce warrior for trans human rights.

As I write this post I'm thinking about Miss Major, Sharyn Grayson, Cheryl Courtney-Evans, and Tracie Jada O'Brien,  They are the trans elders I look up to, admire and I have the benefit of calling them when I have questions, concerns or simply wish to bask in their wisdom.  I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to do the same with Gloria Allen in Chicago.  

Speaking of opportunities, I'm angry that I'm not going to get the opportunity to meet or talk to Kelly or Ashley someday.  I'm disappointed I won't be able to do for them what the trans elders in my sistahcircle have done for me.  It's why I take time out of my life to converse with my trans younglings when they hit me up on my Facebook page to chat about whatever they wish to talk about or call me on the phone to do so..  

The trans younglings get a big kick out of talking to the legendary award winning TransGriot, but I get just as much enjoyment and knowledge out of these conversations as they do.

I wish I'd had that ability when I was their age to have approachable trans feminine role models to just ask questions of and soak up the knowledge about how to navigate the world in a Black trans feminine body and avoid the pitfalls, traps and snares that can sidetrack you to achieving that quality life you deserve.

I'm beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of the near genocidal levels of anti-trans violence that are taking away far too many under 30 transwomen of color before they've had a chance to live their lives.  We are not only losing them, but their potential contributions and talents toward building all the communities we intersect and interact with.  Our young transkids who are in elementary, middle and high schools now are also losing the people who could have one day potentially become their mentors.

But frankly, the one thing I want most for my trans younglings besides having trans human rights laws on the books and being able to live their lives relatively free of anti-trans hatred and bias is deceptively simple. 

I want to see them be able to grow up to reach my age and beyond.

Will my trans sisters be able to have the pleasure of growing old?  I sincerely hope so.

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