Building Sustained Texas Black Trans Representation Is Needed and Necessary

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In addition to some blogger y’all know making a little speech, engaging with our elected officials and their staffers under the Pink Dome yesterday, and talking to the various people in different organizations, one of the cool things about a lobby day is also having the opportunity to have those one on one conversations with attendees and the general public.

There are also those unexpected moments that happen that tug at your heart.

I have said and been cognizant of ever since I started taking these lobby day trips to Austin in 1999 that it wasn’t about me, it was about the next generation of kids who were behind me and making it better for them.

It it happened that my work to pass laws and policies that expanded trans human rights benefitted me in the short term, that was all good as well

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In this one snapshot taken in the rotunda of our Texas state capitol building, there are three generations of Black trans women here.  I made my first lobby day trip before all of them were born, but we’re here together on this March 20, 2017 day repping our community.

Every time I look at that picture, it not only makes me cry happy tears, but also puts a smile on my face.   To them, I am a respected trans elder who not only is passing down their history to them, I’m also role modeling what it will be possibly like to be a fab Black trans women when they hit my age.

I get to see these amazing Black trans women in their teens, twenties and thirties, and it reminds me of why I have been fighting since 1998 for visible Black trans representation in our movement, in the media and other spaces.

Because it matters.

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It matters to Texas Black trans kids like Zuri and their parents.  It matters to Mia and Jessica to see their fourth generation Texas trans elder confidently speaking to over 1000 people with cameras trained on her firing up a diverse crowd before they went to their various meeting with state legislators under the Pink Dome.

It matters that our Black community knows that #BlackTransPeopleExist, we are concerned Texans who are expressing ourselves to our legislators about the issues that matter to us, and we thought it was so important to do so we took a day out of our lives to make it happen

It matters for me to be hugged by Mia  and Jessica, and having a two hour intergenerational conversation on the bus ride back to Houston about the issues we deal with as Black trans women and our hopes, fears, insecurities and aspirations for the future,

It also was heartening to know that these young women also shared my concerns about the media images of Black trans women and were determined to role model being quality Black women who just happen to be transgender.

It mattered to be called Aunt Monica by Zuri.  While it brought on a momentary twinge of sadness with the thought crossing my mind that I don’t have biological kids of my on and at this stage of my life, it’s probably not gonna happen for me, the trans kids are basically my kids as well.

But Zuri’s presence also reminded me that this Texas trans human rights fight is about ensuring that she has a Texas and a country she can grow up in that will allow her to become the amazing Black woman she is well on her way to becoming.

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Would I love to see more Black trans representation when we have these lobby days in the 2019 session?   Absolutely.  

That’s one of the goals we need to make happen, and it become even more important in light of the fact some of the members of the Texas House and Senate share our ethnic heritage and history as Black Texans.

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There are some arguments I can make while lobbying in a Black legislator’s office that frankly, a white trans person can’t.  It’s one of the many reasons why we need to start being hired and paid as lobbyists or to do work in equality orgs that profess to work for the entire community but are still overwhelmingly white in their employment and staffing rolls.

It’s either do so or don’t get mad and whine ‘Why are you separating from us?” when we form our own organizations to do the work you refuse to do or hire us for.   That’s why BTWI, BTMI and Black Trans Advocacy exist in the Lone Star State right now.

And our right wing opposition has no problem hiring Black sellouts to deploy and use against you

And speaking of that sustained Texas Black trans representation, much of the heavy lifting and elbow grease required to make it happen also is on us Black trans Texans.   If you want orgs that rep you, you have to support them not only with your sweat equity but with your dollars so they can do the work you say you want and need to have happen.  

Do I hope to see in my lifetime Black trans women standing in the Texas House or Senate as elected representatives, judges or accomplishing whatever their heart desires and their skills take them?.

Do I hope to one day see an end to cadres of Black ministers selling out our community and preaching anti-trans hate from their pulpits as white fundamentalists and conservative Republicans smile?

Do I hope to have my Black community say in one loud voice that Black Trans Lives matter and I see an end to the obscene levels of anti-trans violence aimed at us?

I sure do.

It’s why building Texas Black trans representation is needed, necessary and needs to expeditiously happen.

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