Trent Johnson

A Tribute to Auntie “Mo”

How do you give a gift to someone who has given you everything? Will there ever be enough words to adequately describe what Auntie “Mo” means to me? Back in 2016 I finally was able to meet her in person for the first time, who in my eyes is a celebrity in the transgender community. It did not take long for me to see that many people confuse fame and being a celebrity with who they should be celebrating.

Here I was this black guy navigating my transition, shunned by most of my biological family; I am standing outside this hotel and one of my trans siblings says to Auntie, “This is my brother “TJ” “and to which she replied, “then that makes me your Aunt”. It was as if she could see in my face the need and longing for family or was it the continued purpose in her to ensure we all had family? Either way, I was blessed, and I felt accepted and loved. A feeling that was not common for me. I had only been in Texas a few years, trying to come out of my bubble and here she was, making me feel all loved and stuff. 

You see, that is who she was for us all. Auntie Mo as I began to call her, made sure we all felt love. She made sure we all felt validated, encouraged and empowered. As a trans man, she supported everything I did, said and wanted to pursue. I remember being crowned the 1st Mr. Black Trans Dallas, and although I was not in Houston, because it was a Texas thing, Auntie was so proud. You know anything in Texas, that we as Black trans people were doing, she was about it. She often referred to me as “Her King”.  When I went on to win and become “Mr. Black Trans International 2017”, Auntie supported me in every endeavor. She coached me in lobbying in Austin, writing my speech to testify against the bathroom bill. You know she loved a good day in Austin tearing down anything that was coming against our rights as trans folxs!!

What mattered to me most was that she supported me in my purpose. Regardless if it was different, she pushed me. When I took a leap of faith and made some decisions that were not popular by others, she spoke to me and encouraged me to stay true to me, and even got on me about watching my mouth. LOL Y’all know Auntie would tell you about using the wrong words, she often said to me, you can get them with your words, just use the right words. Something I live by to this day.

When Dee Dee reached out to me and I was given the honor to serve during the beautiful services for Auntie, I knew that it was something I had to do. It was hard, yet it was my way of being present and honoring her for all the ways in which she honored me as a black trans person.  She never let me down, she respected who I was, she showed up even when it was difficult. She was around people she had never met before, not knowing how they would respond to her, she often was even around people who knew her, yet they still did not appreciate her. So, for me, I took charge of all those feelings and emotions and did the Monica thing and I showed up for her, because I know that she would show up for me and, any of us, as she so often did, so effortlessly day in and day out.

My way of honoring Auntie “Mo” forever is continuing to support the trans community and push the youth to be all they can. More importantly, I will never stop writing, never stop fighting for our rights as trans people, as Black trans people and I will continue to ensure that family for our community is not just something we say, but it is something we do!

I love you Auntie and I will remember to get them with my words, …. the right words! LOL,

Your King, 

Trent J.