Monday, September 30, 2013

I Define Me: A Trans Movement for Awareness And Self-Validation

TransGriot Note: Guest post by Bryanna Aeon Jenkins.

How do I begin? I am a proud black woman of trans experience (24 Years Old) and I am not backing down anymore. Let me start off by saying that I am hurt, tired, and I am definitely ready to make a change. I am so tired of people getting to tell the world who I am, shout it from the mountain tops for everyone to hear and see, while I am told that I should just deal with it because I am deranged and crazy anyway, or the ever famous “that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it.”

I am tired of people religiously believing the opinions of trans phobic black gay men and black lesbians, while what I say, which is based on factual knowledge, feeling, and personal experience is denied, diminished, and dismissed. I was under the false assumption that when I transitioned in the fall of 2008 I was in a LGBT community that loved me, accepted me, understood me, and would defend me when I didn’t have the strength to do it for myself.

What a foolish and misguided young girl I really was. 

It's is now on this day, Friday September 27, 2013, that I declare LGBT is not a community as we have all be conditioned to think. We have to be very mindful of the words that we use to define and call ourselves because the world will treat us as such, a very good friend had to remind me of that.

Community implies a group of people who are similar and who share common interests and beliefs. On this journey from 2008 to now I have found these things to be untrue of LGBT people, we are not the same nor were we ever meant to be. We are a coalition at best, a group of different factions of people who come together for the purpose of organizing and achieving a common goal, but that is simply where all similarities end.  We as trans people have got to stop hiding in the shadows of gay and lesbian people who are not our community and who do not have our best interests at heart. Only we know what is best for us. This is truly a matter of life and death.

To the transphobic gay and lesbian people who do not understand our struggle, nor want to for that matter because they see us a shame or burden, you do not have the permission to publicly spread untruths, misinformation, and stereotypes for the world to hear about who I am and about what I represent to the world.

I was enraged when I saw a video posting of the popular YouTube show “The Skorpion Show”, that is hosted by Kevin Simmons and Makael McLendon, say on a global platform that Trans-Women are all gay because we are born with penis’, as if they are the authorities on the subject of who we are. Then in a subsequent video they defended their myopic and detrimental views about what we are. The show's creator Kevin Simmons even when on to say that we (trans women) are still gay and are really men, but he will call us women just to respect us. NEWS FLASH: I don’t want your respect if it comes at the price of compromising the essence of what me and my trans brothers and sisters really are, and this goes beyond physically passing in society. When I tried to reach out to the show's creator I was blatantly told that he didn’t want any education on the subject of trans people and I can’t get mad at his opinions.

However let's be really clear.  When you're are at the forefront of a public platform where your viewers are watching your opinions and receiving them as fact then you have a social responsibility to put out accurate and correct information. Also if you have little knowledge about a topic, especially on one that is complex as the transgender spectrum, then it is up to you as the deliverer of this topic to be as educated as you possibly can be.

The fact is that you need a certain level of educational clarity in order to accurately discuss the issue of trans people. Making comments based off of ill formed opinions only works to further perpetuate stereotypes and misperceptions about the trans community. Many of these stereotypes and misperceptions are the basis for hate crimes against trans people, discrimination in the fields of healthcare, legal systems, and the workforce, and the misunderstanding from our familial bases.

I am not mad because of what they said  I have become accustomed to the worst treatment from trans phobic gay and lesbian people. It was the fact that the creator of the show did not want to invest the same time and energy into promoting the correct facts about trans people for the world to hear and receive. The bigger picture is that “The Skorpion Show” is a microcosm of Black gay and lesbian intolerance and Black societal intolerance as a whole when it comes to trans people.

I partially have myself to blame for this situation because I should have addressed it when this issue of disrespecting trans women was a common theme throughout their show since 2008, but I foolishly remained passive and thought things would get better on their own because we were all one community.

There goes that damn word again, “COMMUNITY”. 

Like I said I was foolish. I know that there is no such thing as an LGBT community, which is just a term by the hetero-normative community to put us all into one box that was never meant for us to be in initially. However, there is a trans community full of pride, full of dignity, and full of respect. When I publicly disavowed my support for “The Skorpion Show” and its creator Kevin Simmons, because of the show's lack of accurate depictions and discussion of trans people, many girls from my own sisterhood told me that I should let it go and wash my hands of the situation. I get where they come from because sometimes as a trans person you get so tired and weighed down by having to defend your worth to people who refuse to open their minds and ultimately their hearts.

Then I think what if those Black kids at the Woolworth’s lunch counter had simply kept walking past that “WHITES ONLY” counter and said. "Not today" or if those trans people like Miss Major, who was a part of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, said "Bitch, Imma just get locked, I don’t feel like fighting today". We young trans women have got to shake the foundation to create changes and put in transphobic people's faces exactly what they don’t want to see…trans people who are grounded, assertive, and comfortable with who they are and what they put out to the world.

Trans people are not a subset of anybody’s group. We are our own legitimate cause and until the day comes where there is no more breath in this body I will continue to fight for what fair and for what is right.

I don’t ever want to see another transphobic gay or lesbian person accept another dollar of government funding, accept LGBT media awards (, or indulge in the fruits of the mainstream acceptance of gays and lesbians that was gained on the backs of the suffering and degrading of trans people, certainly those of color.

I do not want to go to another funeral of one my fallen sisters, where not only is she purposefully misgendered by societal media, but she is also misgendered by her family who refuses to accept the reality of her unique position in life and ultimately why she had to leave this earth in an all too common violent way. We are here, We are authentic, We exist, We can speak for ourselves and we will not remain silent anymore!

To the allies who fully understand the conversation, I want you to feel empowered to encourage us trans people to tell our own stories because WE have to be at the forefront of our own movement if things are to ever change

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