Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Race And Class Still Matter In The Trans Community

Got this comment from Jacqueline in response to the Transwomen Must Work Four Times As Hard To Be Considered Half As Good post.

I am tired of hearing about violence against trans folks in general. I have to say that it upsets me that "of color" is being added to create a divisional line between trans people. We are all already the most marginalized group of folks possibly on the planet, do we really need to add the race card to the mix?

I am pretty certain (being a transwoman myself) that I do not have any sort of "white privilege" or any extra safety and security because I am not "of color".

We need to unify and understand that the trans experience is unique on to itself and WE are all it together. This "of color" shit is BS.

Jacqueline, I'm just as tired of hearing the conservawords 'race card' deployed on posts that didn't start out as being ones specifically about that topic.  Denials of 'I don't have any sort of white privilege' upset me, especially when they are uttered by white transpeople who refuse to acknowledge that white skin matters even in transworld.  

Your assertion that mentioning the reality transpeople of color catch increased levels of hell during a gender transition is BS pretty much hips us POC transpeeps to the fact you haven't pondered our lived reality that race and class affect a gender transition or dealt with the fact you do exist with white privilege.

If the trans community were really, 'all in this together', I wouldn't have needed to start this Afrocentric trans blog seven years ago to address the concerns of African-American trans people that weren't being heard, our history whitewashed, or our issues simply not addressed.   If the trans community were 'all in this together', our community wouldn't need the Trans Latin@ Coalition, the Trans Persons Of Color Coalition, Black Transmen Incorporated or a growing slate of POC trans organized national and regional conferences.

It wouldn't have taken me or other POC girls like us to repeatedly get the party started on just how jacked up it is for a media outlet to demonize, diss and misgender murdered non white transwomen

70% of the people whose names are read during every TDOR are Black and Latina transwomen and that pattern is sadly continuing in 2013.   Last month we had three African-American and a Latina transwoman killed.   According to the NTDS Latin@ transpeople face a 20% unemployment rate.  African-American transpeople face a 26% unemployment rate compared to just an overall 14% rate for transpeople in general.

Jacqueline, your being trans is the first time in your life that you've had to deal with someone hating you because of who you are.   I and other transpeople of color have had to deal with that issue since we came out of the birth canal.  Being trans just added another layer of oppression to what we already have to deal with in addition to walking on Planet Earth as a non-white male or female.

And ironically, even though I wrote that post for a predominately POC audience, it's still in a generally inclusive tone.  But you still objected to it.  You need to ask yourself why it bugged you that speaking the truth about a non-white transperson's lived experiences bugs you so much that you insultingly label it as 'playing the race card'.

So yes Jacqueline, I really do need to talk about race and class in the trans community on a regular basis and I'm saddened to hear that you think it is BS to do so.   I don't because I and other transpeople of color do not have the luxury of separating our race from our trans status.  They are inextricably linked, affect how we transition, impacts the issues that crop up in our gender transitions and how we navigate them.

And to paraphrase Ralph Ellison, We are invisible because you not only refuse to see and hear me, you refuse to acknowledge our existence.

If you don't like me discussing race and class on my Afrocentric blog, you are always free to surf over to a vanillacentric privileged trans blog where they will have the luxury to do what they always do and ignore issues of race and class in this community.  

As an award winning trans leader of African descent and an inaugural Trans 100 honoree, I can't afford to do that.

It is not only a denial of my own existence and heritage, it is a disservice to the trans people I represent and the community at large to NOT to have an honest discussion about race and class issues and how they affect the trans community.  

You can stick your head in the sand, cover you ears and yell 'La la la, can't hear you' at the top of your lungs, that still won't change the fact that I and non-white trans people and our SGL and cis allies will still be pointing out race matters in the trans community.

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