"One of my favorite parts about TransGriot is when you showcase some of our trans history. It opens my eyes to a world in the past that I can't imagine living in. From Lady Java to Lucy Hicks Anderson, I appreciate knowing that we didn't just pop up in the millennium. We have been here fighting. It shows me that I have been handed a torch and I need to continue running with the torch." --Diamond Stylz October 26,.2011
One of the things I get a lot of love and appreciation for (and requests to do more of) are the posts scattered through the almost 7000 TransGriot posts here I've written about Black trans history makers, the events we've had a hand in shaping, compiling interviews of Black trans people and chronicling our accomplishments here and across the African Diaspora.
I even have a post at EBONY.com talking about it.
I recently added a trans history one about Wilmer 'Little Axe' Broadnax, a trans man who was a major gospel singer in the 40's, 50's and 60's and more are forthcoming. The Broadnax story also drives home the point I repeatedly make on this blog, at my panel discussions, seminars and during my keynote speeches that Black transpeople are woven into the kente cloth fabric of African-American life and we aren't going away. .
The inspiration for this post is concerning something that happened two nights ago while I was burning the post midnight oil composing a few future TransGriot articles. I had one browser window open on my Facebook page as usual and received a chat message from Diamond Stylz asking me what was the name of our trans sister who was a JET magazine beauty of the week.
After I replied 'Ajita Wilson' and sent her the link to the post I wrote about her, she explained moments later why she asked.
Diamond was approached online by a cis Black woman who wished to write a Buzzfeed post entitled '12 Reasons You'll Never Be A Jet Beauty Of The Week' that wanted to include the transphobic 'because you're a man' line as one of them.
Diamond not only schooled her on why that particular reason was not only problematic and insultingly transphobic, she used the link to my Ajita Wilson story to prove it was historically inaccurate and wrong.
Diamond then proceeded to use more of our trans history to point out the other things Black trans women have accomplished or are part of like being a state legislator (Althea Garrison), a major fashion model (Tracy Africa Norman), a writer, community leader and past editor of People.com (Janet Mock), helping jump off the Stonewall Riots and be a major early trans leaders (Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major), help found organizations like A Dionne Stallworth and Dee Dee Chamblee, sing before a sitting US president (Tona Brown), be the first patient to go through the Johns Hopkins Gender program (Avon Wilson), help take down the odious LAPD Rule Number 9 (Lady Java), groundbreaking actress (Laverne Cox), fashion designer (Isis King), college professor and two time DNC convention delegate (Dr. Marisa Richmond), novelist Pamela Hayes, musicians across a wide range of musical genres from Jordana LeSesne, Koko Jones, Katey Red to the late T. Desiree Hines, attorneys like the late Dana Turner, ministers (Rev. Carmarion Anderson), up and coming activists like KOKUMO, trans elders such as Tracie Jada O'Brien, Cheryl Courtney-Evans and Gloria Allen, our Diaspora sisters Audrey Mbugua, Mia Nikasimo, Sahhara and some award winning trans blogger whose posts y'all will occasionally read.
And that's before I even start talking about all the stuff Black transmen have done and are still accomplishing across the African Diaspora that deserves its own post like Marcelle Cook-Daniels, Alexander 'Bear' Goodrum, Kylar Broadus, Rev. Louis Mitchell, Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Carter Brown, Victor Mukasa and Skipper Mogapi just to name a few.
When Diamond was through with cis homegirl she was shifting gears and asking her about doing an interview for a feminine empowerment blog she writes.
That's the power our Black trans history has. It not only can 'ejumacate' and inspire us to do wonderful things, it also educates our own people who aren't aware of the Black trans community's accomplishments and us standing up for our human rights.
It also tells the fascinating stories of people like Georgia Black, Lucy Hicks Anderson, Wilmer Broadnax, James 'Sweet Evening Breeze' Herndon and Jim McHarris who boldly lived their lives in an era which predates transgender being used to describe them.
They were simply living the best way they knew how their lives as the men and women they were created to be and insisted they were regardless of the genitalia configurations between their legs.
Much of the reason I compile Black trans history stories on this blog is to ensure they are documented and don't get forgotten, gayjacked or whitewashed. The attempts to do that with the predominately African-American 1965 Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit In Protest in Philadelphia story have been made.
It's here on the blog and I'll be adding more Black trans history stories as expeditiously as possible.
So use it trans people, allies and supporters to dispel the lie that we Black transpeople haven't contributed anything to the advancement of trans human rights, our people's advancement, aren't part of the Black community or made some history in our own right.
Use the Black trans history posted here to 'ejumacate' folks about our ongoing contributions to society here and across the Diaspora.