March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates the history and accomplishments of women. While this month is a testament to womanhood, black women of trans experience are consistently left out of Women’s History.
For the longest time, it has only been cisgender women that were highlighted, with only their accomplishments being celebrated.
As times shift, and the definition of womanhood has expanded to include trans women, it is time that we celebrate not only our contributions to Women’s History, but also to our continued impact on daily life. Even before Marsha P. Johnson stood up for the civil rights of her LGBTQ+ community, black trans women have been revolutionary in our lives; not only in activism for social and civil rights, but in our daily life.
This year, we want to take the time to recognize black women of trans experience of all facets of life here in Houston who are living freely and openly.
Houston is home to various social advocacy and non-profit organizations with which black trans women play vital roles in. Those include advocacy groups that are led by black trans women.
“Save Our Sisters, United” (or SOSU) is a non-profit organization, created and led by black trans women, that develops a safe space for trans women. SOSU also partners with local organizations in Houston to provide various resources to the community as well, stipends and financial assistance to help with name and gender marker changes.
“Sister to Sister Support Group”, founded by Mia Ryan, is a group that provides support, but not limited to, transgender women of color.
“Wise Waters”, a new organization formed by Jayla Oyabemi Silvester, is an organization that focuses on creating opportunities for positive transformation.
Part of representation is being able to authentically and openly express yourself. “Marsha’s Plate” (@marshasplate on all social media platforms), a black trans podcast, levels up that candidness and authenticity to the next level. Marsha’s Plate, helmed by two amazing black trans women, Diamond Stylz (who also serves as the Executive Director of Black Trans Women Inc.) and Mia Mix, and a black trans man (Zee), not only reports news and social issues as they affect our trans community, but also educates and consistently and intentionally provides new culture content for the community.
Another show, “Coco’s House”, by Christen “Coco” Valentine (@therealcocoshouse on Instagram), showcases her make-up and beauty skills, as well as her life.
With the rise of social media, black trans women can now not only connect with the world with ease, but can also control the way they are seen and represented.
Enoch Brooks (@enochbrookss on instagram) is a fashion model who uses her various social media platforms as a self-stylized, virtual portfolio for all to see.
When we talk about models, we cannot not mention Jessica Zyrie. With her slender, statuesque frame, Zyrie (@jessicazyrie on all social media platforms) has not only graced various runways statewide and internationally, she has also graced television screens on ‘Project Runway’. Not just a model, Zyrie uses her platform to talk about the intersectionality of her identity, as well as social issues that are important to her.
Ms. Tommie Ross is not only a legend in Houston Nightlife, but a legend in social advocacy and the ongoing fight for trans civil rights. She continues to not only be a pillar within the community, both in and out of the nightlife and club scene, but also continues to make history. In 2020, she became the first black woman of trans experience to become the Grand Marshall for Houston Pride. Ross’s legacy continues to inspire.
Crystal Renee Star is also a showgirl and title holder who resides in Houston. Star is known to support the nightlife community and can be seen and recognized out and about.
Teanna Nicole Mcintosh, an Emcee and host of various parties throughout Houston, is also a recognizable face within the community.
When we think of activism, we must expand our definition. As a black woman of trans experience, activism is getting up and facing an unjust world. It’s showing up and supporting the community. The very existence of black trans women is revolutionary at its core.
When we talk about women who show up, we are speaking about Asia Guillory, who is always supportive. While Asia may not be officially affiliated with any organizations, she is intentional about being there and showing up for the community, especially other black trans women.
Monica Battle is another woman who openly shows up for the community; making sure she uses her own voice to uplift those around her. Monica’s journey led her to being the 2019 recipient of the Mahogany Project Inc.’s ‘Woman of the Year’ at their annual Trans Empowerment and Alliance Party.
Davin Nicole Stephens (Nicole Roberts) also is someone who actively supports her community as well; often seen in the Houston nightlife scene.
Black trans women are not another hashtag. It is imperative that we are celebrated in life; not just mourned in our passing. It is important that we give all black trans women their flowers. Not just the social advocates and social justice fighters, but all black trans women. Because the mere act of our existence is revolutionary in this white, cis-heteropatriarchal society. And that is definitely worth celebrating.
Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri (She/her/hers)