Black Trans Folks Have Been Trying To Tell Black Cis Peeps What We Need- Y’all Ain’t Listening

As you TransGriot readers were aware of, I was part of a two hour Zoom town hall on Saturday that was supposed to be convened in the spirit of All Black Lives Matter and was sold to me as a convo to discuss the needs of our Black trans family.

As you probably guessed in a conversation moderated by a cis Black man and of which nine of the twelve participants were cis, it didn’t turn out that way. 

Even though we had major Houston trans allies on that panel like BLM-HOU’s Ashton P. Woods, Rev. Denise Junious and attorney Jolanda Jones, every time that we started talking about trans peeps, the conversation got diverted and derailed from its intended focus on Black trans lives

While myself, Kaleb Elijah and Tori Cooper managed to get some points across, the end result was that the trans participants and our allies were left frustrated at how the conversation organized by Black Greeks Speak Social Justice turned out. 

There was far too much stuff we didn’t talk about in the two hours allotted for this conversation. 

For starters, we needed to talk about the transphobia in the Black community ranks that is not only in the Black same gender loving community, but has expressed itself in Black Greek Letter Organization (BGLO) ranks as well. 

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Exhibit A of that BGLO transphobia was the attempt by a faction of Zeta Phi Beta members last year to adopt a diversity statement that sought to bar trans women from joining the sorority.  It was rescinded after intense negative media attention and efforts by trans allies within the Zeta Phi Beta ranks. 

We didn’t talk about the fact that the common thread with many of the Black trans women that have been murdered in the last few years across the country has been intimate partner violence and trans misogynoir 

Translation:  Cis Black men are killing and gleefully subjecting Black trans women to beatdowns

We didn’t go into depth about the role that the Black church and Black media, be it traditional or social media, plays in pushing anti-trans hatred in our community to the point of so called ‘comedians’ like Lil Duval on shows like The Breakfast Club do on-air advocating for our murders.

Neither did we go in depth about the inaction of our legacy orgs like the NAACP when it comes to advocacy on behalf of Black trans folks.   We also didn’t talk about the lack of Black trans folks being hired to do policy work inside and outside the TBLGQ community.

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I don’t doubt for a nanosecond that my Black trans masculine family and our Black non binary siblings have a long list of their own things they need to say to Black cis America as well

So what do Black trans folks need? 

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The first and most important thing is for y’all to stop killing us or subjecting us to beatdowns. 

Periodt. 

We do not exist for y’all to beat on us or kill us because you’re mad about whatever personal issues you’re dealing with.   Take those personal issues and problems up with your friendly neighborhood therapist and keep your hands to yourself.

We need Black cis people to cease and desist with debating our existence.  Trans folks have been part of our community since the rise of modern humans and we aren’t going anywhere. 

Stop trying to pawn off your transphobia as a ‘disagreement’    Discussing whether Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan or Lebron James are the greatest basketball players ever is a legitimate cause for debate and disagreement.

Trying to claim that Black trans people don’t exist when the science and our very existence overwhelmingly say otherwise is not.

Black trans folks need good paying jobs.   We need housing. We need competent non discriminatory medical care. 

We need Black cis men to stop being ‘scurred’ and come clean about the fact some of you are attracted to Black trans women.  Some of you wish to take that desire further and have long term relationships with us. 

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Because we Black trans women know many of us have been killed in dating situations, we’re going to tell you from the jump we’re trans.   We do not have to ‘trick’ or deceive you into walking into our bedrooms.  Many of you do so willingly, and you need to stop fronting about that with cis Black women and your homeboys. 

We need cis Black women to recognize that we trans women are not your enemy.  The white supremacist Karens and Kens who wish to gleefully oppress all of us are.   We would rather spend our precious time building sisterhood with other Black cis women, building long term friendships,   and uplifting the community together.

Women begin to march south along Emancipation Avenue after the speakers event during the March for Black Women Houston 2019, starting at Emancipation Park Saturday, Mar. 16, 2019 in Houston, TX. Photo: Michael Wyke, Houston Chronicle / Contributor / © 2019 Houston Chronicle

While we recognize and acknowledge that the feminine journeys of Black trans and cisgender women are different along with the issues we face as a result, there are some issues that both groups face that we would do well to work together to combat.

We need y’all cis peeps to stop shadily whispering (or yelling) ‘That’s a Man’ when a trans woman is in the club or elsewhere, and she happens to be on her feminine presentation A game.   That shyt gets trans women beaten or killed.   Mine nor any other trans woman’s existence is not an indictment of you or Black womanhood in general.

Hell, the attacks on Black femmes have occurred long before Black trans women started getting written about in 19th century newspapers, and even those articles, like today’s 21st century media coverage, were mostly negative.

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We need you to not only stop attacking our Black trans kids like Zaya Wade, we need you to stop attacking their parents for loving their kids enough to allow them to honestly and openly live as their true selves.

We need you to stop trying to pass off your transphobia as part of your religion.  That is a major sore spot with me, other trans folks and our allies that will get you called out.  If your religion calls for you to hate on trans people, then you need a new religion

Since we founded Black trans led organizations to do the policy work that Black legacy orgs wouldn’t (and wouldn’t hire us for), we need our trans led grassroots orgs properly funded. 

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We currently have 27 trans people nationwide who are elected officials.  Only two of them are Black, and they both sit on the Minneapolis City Council in Councilmembers Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham.   The trans folks all running for office in this 2020 cycle are predominately white.

We know that must change.   So when increasing numbers of Black trans people do decide to run for public office, we not only will need your support, be it financial or otherwise, we will need your votes when we do.

We also need cis elected officials at all levels of government to consider hiring qualified Black trans people to work on their staffs to do the needed and necessary policy work that will help improve all our lives

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We also need you to listen when we talk about the issues that impact our communities.  We trans and gender non conforming peeps are the experts when it comes to talking about our lives.

So unless you have a PhD in gender identity issues, are a geneticist doing research in that area, or a psychologist trained to treat gender dysphoria issues, STFU with your loud and wrong faux faith based opinions about our lives.  Your loud and wrong opinion does not trump a trans person’s actual lived experience.

Most importantly, we Black trans peeps need you Black cis folks to treat us with the dignity and respect you demand for yourselves.

2 thoughts on “Black Trans Folks Have Been Trying To Tell Black Cis Peeps What We Need- Y’all Ain’t Listening”

  1. I needed to read every bit of this—twice! Yours is the only voice I trust in this, Monica. I did not know several of these key points because social media is choosing its own experts and I don’t know their agendas—and none I’ve seen are Black. I wanted to know the issues and I’m relieved to finally know the truth. As a licensed and ordained Christian minister, I agree with everything you’ve said here about religion and while I don’t know who others serve inside my same religion, but I publicly disagree with those who spiritually abuse their listeners and God’s trans folx. I love you for many reasons, Monica, and today I especially love you for this article.

  2. Thank you so much for these words. I know my heart screams for this every minute of everyday.

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