On April 4 I celebrate the day 22 years ago that I walked into my then airline job and began a nerve wracking first week being out and unapologetically Black and trans in the middle of Houston Intercontinental Airport Terminal C’s gates. That first long week turned into two weeks, then a month, and before I knew it I was a year into being me. .
Now two decades plus two years have passed, and since today is the 2016 edition of the Trans Day of Visibility I wanted to talk about the blessings of being out and unapologetically trans because we hear far too often in the media the negatives, especially when it comes to trans women of color..
The first blessing is finally being able to live comfortable in my own skin and body. Once you are able to do that, the rest of your life begins to emotionally fall into place. You stand taller, are more confident as you body matches on the outside what you have long known and felt inside. You are willing to be a participant in life and not a spectator. You are more willing to chase those dreams you put on hold because prior to living your trans truth a paralyzing fear hung over you like a dark cloud.
Transition makes that dark cloud go away.
You still have to deal with all the other issues that crop up that are germane to your new gender presentation along with life’s curveballs. You will have to get adjusted to dealing with all the societal baggage that comes with the new gender role, but it is an assignment you are eagerly willing to take on because it is necessary for you to do so in order to grow and evolve as a person.
One of the first things you discover is that your family expands in terms of the international network of trans brothers and sisters you begin to meet online, at regional and national conferences, board meetings, collegiate and other panel discussions, trans social groups and community meetings..
Some of those people are the famous and legendary folks that are my role models, while others may just be beginning their journey and look to you as a possibility model.
I have also met athletes, politicians, academics, journalists, writers and other wonderful people along the way that if I wasn’t my fab unapologetic visible Black trans self, I doubt I would have been in the necessary situations in order for those meetings to happen.
And the best part is many of those people I have met over the last 22 years I call my friends. The fact that my friends are international, multigenerational and diverse in scope means that my thinking doesn’t get stagnant and mired in an American-centric world view.
The same is true of cis allies. Over the last two decades I have met some amazing people inside and outside the advocacy world. Some are now part of my current sistahcircle, while others for various reasons were in my life for a short time period so that as I figured out later, to teach me specific life lessons I needed to learn before they moved on. There are others who were once in my life, we got separated for a while, and now they are back to help me gain insights necessary for my current life journey.
As for my sistacircle, they are a intergenerational and multiethnic group of cis and trans women who keep my butt grounded in reality. My sistahfriends are there with helpful advice, to get me out of a depressed mood when I’m down, celebrate my successes, be brutally honest when I need to step it up and give me a swift motivational kick in the behind when necessary.
They also ensure that I don’t get Big Head Syndrome.
The cis women in my sistahcircle ensure that in addition to checking any drift toward BHS, I don’t start overthinking or trying too hard when it comes to being my fabulous femme self since they have been navigating life in female bodies since birth.
My sistafriends also keep me on track in fulfilling the promise I made to several of my cis feminine work colleagues back in 1994 when I transitioned that I would be a compliment and not a detriment to Black womanhood
So what are the other benefits of being my unapologetic Black trans self? Those peeps who knew me before transition and are still in my life have noted that I’m happier than I was two decades ago. I know I’m much healthier now that I’ve come out of the trans flagged closet, and I eagerly look forward to seeing what each day will bring. I am working diligently towards making some of the dreams I put on hold come true, and working on making others happen.
How much healthier? Within two months after beginning to live visibly trans, my blood pressure came down noticeably despite me working in the same stress inducing airline job.
So while I have laments and complaints that could fill another 700+ word post, the reality for me is that when I sit back and do some hard solid thinking about it, the trans visibility blessings far outweigh the negatives.