Aiming Higher

One of the things that has been foremost on my mind ever since I transitioned in 1994 and I was painfully aware of was the negative images of African descended transwomen.  We were already working from a visibility and  knowledge deficit not only in my own community, but the rainbow community as well.

One of the things I resolved to do was change that negative perception of us, and I was determined to role model that finer specimen of womanhood that Sharon Davis talked about in her 1987 book.

While it has taken some time, my African descended transsisters are finally making headway in that department.  We’re beginning to get the message out that there are African American transwomen who are aiming higher in terms of how we project ourselves to the world as our
chocolate trans history continues to be revealed to us.

Our elder
stateswomen are stepping out of the shadows, telling their stories and
providing us with the guidance and mentoring that we’ve needed for a
long time to ground us.  As we received that grounding combined with our
spirituality, the transwomen of my generation are in a better position
to pick up that leadership torch, mentor our younger counterparts and
learn lessons from our younglings as well.  

As we fight to overcome the shame, guilt and self esteem issues that plague us at times, we must work to debunk the negative PR images we’ve been saddled with and relentlessly focus on how we accentuate our positive aspects to the world.   We also must be cognizant of the negative perceptions of us inside the African-American community and work to overcome them.

We transwomen desire true sisterhood with our cis sisters, but not in a devalued junior partner sense.  That sisterhood must be based on respect for our humanity.  We share a common history and cultural bond, and the sooner you realize that the sooner we can get to work building mutually beneficial relationships that benefit both parties. 

We find ourselves in the Black trans community slowly but surely building sisterhood and community that will serve us well in the future.  However, we must still keep reaching out to those transwomen who haven’t gotten with the program and who haven’t clued in to the fact that this is a new decade requiring a new attitude and a new paradigm in terms of being an African descended transwoman.  

As we own our power, that positive attitude and desire to aim higher as African descended transwomen is taking hold in our ranks.  It demands that we not only represent ourselves to the best of our abilities, but step up to the challenge of being compliments to Black womanhood and not considered detriments to it.

I am gratified to see some of my young transsisters who are part of our most information laden and tech savvy generation already role modeling in their own lives what I’m expressing in this post, and it’s not too late for the rest of us to aim higher and make adjustments in our own lives where they are necessary.

So let’s aim higher Black transwomen.  Let’s become more concerned about how we present ourselves to the world.  We need to work to be judged by the best we produce, not the worst in addition to working diligently to shatter myths and destroy stereotypes about us..  

Let’s not only be better sisters to each other, but work tirelessly to build sisterhood in our ranks and across the Diaspora.  Trans younglings, respect and value your trans elders and the wisdom they have to pass on to you, and at the same time we trans elders need to open our hearts and minds and listen to what you have to say. 

Lets not ever forget the transsisters we tragically lost along the way as we get to this pivotal moment in our history as African descended transpeople.

Lucy Craft Laney said in 1880 that “Black women are the regenerative force to uplift the race.”

It’s past time for Black transwomen to aim higher and not only be the regenerative force to uplift ourselves and the trans community, but our Black BLG/SGL one, the Black community, our nations we inhabit across the Diaspora and the world.

TransGriot Note: women in the photos are Janet Mock, Cheryl Courtney-Evans and Tona Brown

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