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The Trans Trauma

The "T" is silent and that has to change, but where do we begin? and how can we help?

It goes without say that there’s a large and almost episodic journey that faces the trans community as it pertains to rights and social equality. We’ve been arched as the current administration lay claim to basic human rights as though they own them and stood by while the trans Americans all over the U.S bit their fingernails in a frenzy hoping for something more than more bad news. The story is repetitive and yet the narrative is always the same. The victims all seem to have the characteristics and yet the news manages to get it wrong while saving face under the guise of being ill informed on purpose. We stand as a “community” in public spaces and criticize the viability of our subsections behind closed doors and wonder why we change is but a word used to get folks fired up at rallies. We call ourselves the progressives leaders of the left, because the right has shown us nothing, but hate and yet we use the same language they do when we see fit to vilify our “family” for the sake of more grant funding to push a particular agenda over the other. We are the LGB community and the T often stands alone.

As a trans woman of color I find myself playing third fiddle to a lot of larger issues than my own struggle being just that— a trans woman of color. I’m often silently asked to not make this a trans issue in gay spaces and not make it a black issue in white ones. I’m told that my story is beautiful and amazing, but have seen first hand that it only valued if it greases the hands of a wealthy white person as its being told.

I am allowed to feel, so long as it’s within the stereotype. I’m allowed  to think outside the box, so long as my passing privilege matches my intellect except in special cases where my ability to be “used in this capacity” serves the chosen beauties better to allow me to be voice of a much needed scandal surrounding the latest Hollywood clap back. I have sat in spaces that where deemed safe only to be misgendered and have it laughed off because “everyone here is learning” and that’s where I draw the line.

Trans women have stood at the forefront of all the great LGBT battles. Trans women of color have taken the helm to ensure the rights of our communities to no avail from those that reap the benefits and share nothing short of minor crumbs from the fruits of the labor provided by these women who put their livelihood on the line. With a life expectancy of 35 trans women of color are the most target yet somehow the least understood, funded, and supported subset of our little slice of the demographic.

Trans incidents leading to fatalities have increased during each of the last three years. In 2015 there were 22 murders of transgender people and 23 in 2016 with 26 in 2018 and counting with the largest percent of death occurring to trans women of color. Yet the amount of funding for programming around the issue is at the bottom of the list or tied into GBL efforts in order to keep the peace.

Things have got to change surrounding the ideology the trans folks and our stories are only value if they can be exploited and used to propel singular messages for the masses. Not all of us use sex work or thievery as a means for survival. Not all of us engage in the ballroom community or act as House mothers. Some of us don’t live within the binary. A lot of us are college educated. The narrative has to to change and to change it we must call out problematic, but normalized dismissals when we see them as a community.

Use our resources when we find ourselves inquiring about daily functions surrounding our sisters and a respectful touch when we feel we have to engage her. Give the floor to those of trans experiences both men and women alike when we see a space is being over saturated with only one lens as opposed to a full spectrum. Be mindful about tokenism within the community and understand that it’s ok to not understand, but never ok to use that lack of understanding as a means forego respect.

We all must mindful of the privilege we have in the freedom to be ourselves and explore that when most are to afraid to do so and govern ourselves with by living in the action of inclusion and not just the phrase. We’ve got to continue to lead by example and setting expectations of understanding rather than hoping it’s simply understood which starts with making room within the community for representation without pretense and consequential trauma.

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