Monday, January 12, 2009

Black Transwomen Celebrated

Monica Roberts, that fabulous blogger and webmistress of TransGriot, mentioned my partner, Amanda Morgan, in her entry on transwomen of color working for progressive change. I was totally shocked when I saw her name and photo! Not that she was mentioned but that my partner, who is genderqueer, who be cataloged along side all the transgender women who were assigned male at birth and had to pursue some kind of social shift in order to live as their true female selves.

Now, in my world I think the more transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming people get together and share their stories the stronger our presences will be. When we understand our true gender diversity we can create a more united front in the struggle for recognition and rights. But a lot of folks don't think that way, and a lot of folks quite rightly point out that there are different histories and needs in our various gender identities. But for every person who is focused on a singular self-struggle, there is a person who sees the larger picture of how transgender identity affects us all.

Take for instance, someone like Khadijah Farmer. Khadijah is a cisgender lesbian who was forcibly removed from a restroom (and subsequently the restaurant) because the bouncer thought she wasn't female. When Khadijah chose to be represented by Michael Silverstein of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund she became (although she already was) a gender warrior. She acknowledged that her experience was replicated across the U.S. towards transwomen and transmen, gender non-conforming people, and masculine women and feminine men who might not even consider themselves at risk for gender discrimination. Now, Khadijah never identified publicly as gender non-conforming, while my partner does. But the principal is fairly similar - one doesn't have to be in the more traditional purview of "transgender" to experience gender-identity based discrimination. Be it from the state refusing to protect your right to equal employment, a private restaurant deciding who can and can't use the bathrooms, or be it from friends who ask "how can someone feminine be so aggressive" or "how can you wear skirts and not shave your legs?"

I am also incredibly pleased to see such a positive celebratory piece on Black transwomen. A few months ago Monica posted an entry Notable African-American Transgender People where she listed 23 active African American transgender people and 5 transgender folks who had passed on. I added Imani Henry, June Brown, Tona Brown, Monica Roberts, and Isis King to the list and have printed it out and hung it all over my new office. There aren't enough people aware of the great number of transfolk of color who are battling transphobia and racism. But Monica is raising our levels of awareness and supplying educators like myself with invaluable resources.

I have always looked at Monica as a pinnacle of transgender blogging. I don't always agree 100%, but I am constantly learning form her. And now I have a very personal reason to think she is just absolutely amazing!

P.S. Sorry for all of the very short updates. If my blog has come to be known for something (big if there!) it is for my rather long responses to issues of language, politics, and identity. However with my new job I am still trying to figure out a writing schedule. Which means I have many short posts now for January, and lots of notes that I hope to soon transform into actual entries.

15 comments:

Monica Roberts said...

Mik,
We can definitely agree that Amanda's the bomb. Looking forward to meeting both of you someday.

Mik Danger said...

Monica! Thank you so much for commenting - it's like having a blessing from a celebrity to know you read my blog!

I would be very honored to meet you someday - and I know Amanda would too, we're both avid readers :) Thanks for dropping by.

Monica Roberts said...

Mik,
Celebrity? moi? I'm just me kicking knowledge and telling the truth about things, even if some peeps don't like it.

Just hit my e-mail if you or Amanda need anything. ;)

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