Tuesday, October 04, 2016

She's Your Sister, Not Your Competition

I was watching the interview on Sunday that Cheryl Courtney Evans gave with Raquel Willis in January.   During the third part of it she talked about an aspect of Black Transfeminine World that has bothered me and a few other woke trans women for a while in terms of the reluctance of elements of our transfeminine community to collectively work together in order to advance rights for all of us.

Cheryl's thoughts on it, and I agree with her, is that the problem stems in the different paths we used to evolve to be the people we are.  

While some of us had the gender epiphany and transitioned while out and about in the world at different times like I did, some of us came from the drag and pageantry world, some came from the ballroom community, and some of us came from the escort world.

I'm aware of those other paths that people took to become the people they are today and I ain't mad at them for doing what they felt they had to do at that moment to become the people they are today, but those paths have caused problems in our efforts to build sisterhood in our ranks.

The reason why I'm saying the drag, pageant, ballroom and escort worlds have caused a problem with building sisterhood is because the common thread in all of those worlds is competiton.

In the escort world you are trying to compete with other girls to make your money to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly.  In the drag world you're competing against other girls trying to make those tips to help pay your bills. In the pageant world you are competing to try to win that title and the cash prize that comes with it.

Image result for Harlem ballroom community femme queen
And in the ballroom community you are competing against each other to win categories for cash prizes and trophies.  The other common thread in all those competition scenarios is that every year, as girls transition at earlier ages, they are indistinguishable from cis females, which ratchets up the 'It's all about me' mindset another level as younger girls enter those worlds.

I'm not saying that sisterhood and friendships aren't formed in these worlds.  They are.  What I'm focused on, and I'm repeating this so there is no misunderstanding about where I'm going with this, is that the competition mindset elements of us have marinated in in those worlds has pitted us against each other far too often.  It can and has reared its ugly head at times to the point where outside observers of our Black transfeminine ranks have this impression that Black trans women can't work together.

That competition mindset we marinate in doesn't lend itself to a situation like building community and fighting for your human rights, in which cooperation is the name of the game and not competition.   It's something that we need to be conscious of and work diligently at to build trust among the various groups

And we need to do it quickly.  This community is in an situation in which we are taking on a coalition of transphobic haters comprised of the Republican Party, white fundamentalists, sellout kneegrow pastors, conservative media pundits, the TERFs, elements of the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists.

Their mission is to eviscerate trans people from public life and must be resisted with every fiber of our beings and collective power we can muster.

So I and other woke trans women need to know that when we take these fools on, you're not looking side eyed at us out of jealousy or whatever issue you have with us and petulantly sitting out this round because you have an issue with a certain person.  We need you at that moment to have your sisters backs, not be stabbing us in the back.

We have bigger enemies to our existence in transphobic legislators, lying conservative pundits, faux faith based preachers or the kneegrow sellouts trying to throw us under the bus for their own selfish gain.   So you can hate on me and the woke trans women doing the human rights work all you want.

But when we are in Defcon 1 Fight The Power mode, we need 100% effort from you and your head in the game to defeat the existential threat to all of us.  When the crisis is passed, then you can go back to throwing shade if you wish.

As Janet Mock has said, there is room for all of us to shine.  There's also plenty of work that needs to be done across the country in different activism lanes for the collective advancement of our Black trans feminine community.   Your time will come to be in the spotlight, and when it does, I and your sisters will be cheering for you from the sidelines.  I will also be the first one to hug you and sing your praises in this blog when the time comes for you to get that deserved recognition.

It's past time we transitioned from a Darwinian survival mindset and into the cooperative sisterhood building mindset that we will need in order to successfully do our part in this trans human rights fight.

We are Black trans women.   When we put out minds to it and handle our business, we can accomplish anything we desire.  It's just we are more powerful when we do so together in a coordinated fashion.

Remember, she's your sister, not your competition.


Unknown said...

Powerful and inspiring, per usual.

Unknown said...

Powerful and inspiring, per usual.