Tag Archives: trans women of color

Post the Sixth 2 or On The Labor Movement and Transmisogyny

Another Black trans woman was found murdered the other day. The details of her death are so similar to the other deaths, that I avoided reading about it for a while. Articles like that upset me for many reasons and once I get drawn in, its hard for me to surface again with hope.

But I cannot run forever.

So I read the articles. And of course there was mispronouning, using wrong names, using mug shots, delving into her past that might be relevant as to why she was murdered (i.e. the fact that she was harassed and brutalized by the police)  but completely missing the point and only serving to further dehumanize her.

Even in death, the way we are spoken about by the mainstream cishet world is traumatizing and violent. Even in death, trans women of color cannot escape the trauma of colonialism and genocide. And I can’t help but think about trans day of remembrance  which is almost always all white trans women organizing and present for it and almost all trans women of color dead and being “remembered”.

Our bodies are exploited by white trans and queer folks to further their assimilation into colonial power. They use our deaths to justify their inclusion in heteropatriarchy.

I can’t help but make connection between this and May Day. May Day is International Workers Day. It is a day that marks the successes of the Labor Movement here and internationally. It is a recognition that globalization and capitalism exploits billions of people for the benefit of very few.

The bodies of trans women of color are exploited in a similar manner. We do not own our own labor, our own deaths. The labor of our deaths are exploited by the mainstream queer rights movement to prove why assimilation, inclusion the military and the strengthening of the prison industrial complex will keep white queers safe. Our deaths are exploited to sell shit like marriage equality. We are not allowed the dignity to determine what our deaths will mean.

It is amazing to me just how different forms of oppression intersect and interact with each other. I’m constantly learning just how deep this shit goes and it confirms for me even more that we will not be free unless we take down all of these systems simultaneously.

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Post the Ninety-Second or I

I

Don’t know

What it is like

To die but

I

Know

What it is like

To live with

Grace

My hand trembles

As I hold this blood

Soaked pen

Blood like rivers

Flow from the tip

Of my shores

Shoring up

The weak

Parts of self

I

Remember my sisters

Cradle them in my palm

Between lines and fingers

Charting the course

Through which I

Blaze

Like life

I

Am

Still alive

Despite statistics

My body crossed

With intersections of death

Living

Life

They will not

Claim me

Today

Will not

Find

My body strewn

Like so much offal

Across the pavement

Will not

Mark the way

I move

For death

I

Mean to survive

To live, love

And thrive

I

Mean to show

Everyone

What it is like

To hustle

In a brown trans body

I

Mean to materialize

A life

That is

Abundantly

Full of familia

Love

Comfort

The softness that

Goddess has

To offer


I

don’t need

To assimilate

don’t need

Your “marriage equality”

Your white picket fence

2.5 children

I don’t need

Your lie

Because

I want justice

Justice for my sisters

Justice for myself

Justice for all of the people

Marginalized by life

Justice that does not involve

Police brutality

I want to bring

My ancestors back

From the dead

And raze this world

To the ground

So that it can

Rise anew

Like a Phoenix

Reborn

I

Plan to keep

Drawing breath

I

Know how quick

Life can go

Blink

And you miss

It.

Blink

And you’re dead

But until then

I will feel

My heart pump

Vitality to limbs

My lungs breathe

Joy to heart

My mind thinking

Spirit to life

I

Am

Alive

And I am

Gonna

Live it

Up


Post the Seventy-First or On Rewriting Narratives

This week is Boston’s LGBT Film Festival. Held over many days and in many different theaters, the festival screens films that celebrate and shed light on the queer experience. And while most of the films are centered around white queers, there were a number of films that featured QPOC only cast. Yesterday, I saw one of those films. It’s called Leave It On the Floor. The program billed it as a black gay musical inspired by the groundbreaking documentary Paris is Burning. There were gorgeous boys and sickening queens, voguing and lots of singing. And, for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the perfect mix of campy realness and torrid love affair drama.

About half way into the movie, however, one of the characters dies. I’m sure you can guess what her identities were. She was a poor, black, trans woman. And this really, really bothered me. And while she wasn’t murdered, she died in a car crash, it still frustrated me. She was also the only character in the movie to die. Why is it that many, if not most, portrayals of black and brown trans women in the media have them dead? Without fail, when a trans woman of color is introduced into a film or TV show they are dead before the end of the movie. Even in the news, we never hear about the victories or successes of trans women of color. We only hear about their murders, if we hear of them at all.

On top of that, the protagonist of the movie was kicked out of his home for being gay by his mother. Her character was completely one dimensional. She was callous, completely unremorseful that she was sending her kid to the streets.  She verbally assaulted and insulted the protagonist for being gay. She was written in such a way that her only defining characteristic was her hatred for her son.

The reason for this is because that is the narrative that society has given to us. The script, if you will, that is given to all trans women of color. We come out, we get kicked out of our homes and we are killed. Since PoC, apparently, have the patent on homophobia and transphobia, there is no other result to our coming out. What is particularly egregious about this instance is that the writer and director of the film were both gay white men. These two men were not only operating from two of the worst of QPoC narratives but they were also doing so with complete lack of analysis as to why they are problematic. It is an extremely sneaky form of racism because for all the audience knows, this film was a production for black queer and trans* folk for black queer and trans* folk. The cast was entirely black. And this makes it easy for the audience to miss the implicit racist stereotypes.

We need to be rewriting this narrative. We need to take our stories into our own hands and rewrite it to reflect our own lives. We need to be telling our own stories for ourselves, for others like us. We need to stop blindly accepting the messages that white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and capitalism would have us consume. We need to start telling stories that demonstrate our lived lives. We need to write poems, short stories, plays, screen plays that celebrate our identities, that reflect our experience has survivors. We need to make art and space that is meaningful for us. That accurately represents us. I’m not saying that we should erase the hardship that surrounds our lives because that would be just as bad. What I am saying is that we need to be talking about our victories, our loves, our hopes, our accomplishments.

What I am saying is that we need to rewrite the narrative so that we become human and not just corpses.

My story used to end with my early death at the hands of transphobia. I had no doubt that it was a question of when, not if. And that is because I accepted the narrative given to me. I won’t lie to you; I still often worry about that and I know it is a very real possibility. But it’s different today. I know that I am given that narrative so that I give up before the fight has even started. And I know might story might still end up that way, but I am determined to make sure that it isn’t a certainty. I am determined to rewrite the ending so that women that come after me can have hope.

I am determined to rewrite my narrative for myself.