By Guest Contributor Toi S., cross-posted from Genderqueer Street Philosophactivist
I’ve been processing a lot about my identity as a transmasculine, genderqueer person after attending the phenomenal First Annual Black Transmen Advocacy Conference in Dallas, TX. Here are some of my musings after such a transformational conference that has touched me in ways that no gender studies class or symposium ever could. My life has truly been changed forever, and I don’t say that lightly.
The conference almost brought me to tears multiple times because it was so healing. I received all the affirmation I have never gotten because no one knew how to give it to me–not even myself. I heard all those things I needed to hear from people like me. It wasn’t psychobabble or intellectual conversations around gender identity by stuffy academics, etc. I heard from folks who live this experience and who are at the margins and intersections. Speaking real talk. REAL TALK.
I received validation for everything I’ve ever suspected about why it’s so incredibly hard to be black and trans. For instance: that transitions aren’t a complete solution for everyone. They help brothers go “stealth” which can be a huge weight off with so much violence and homophobia within our community–but what about the mind? The spirit? Being trans isn’t just about your body despite what psychologists and doctors say. They have no idea. NO idea. For them, everything is solved with subtractions and additions of parts and a lifelong dose of hormones. To them … this is what makes you a man or woman. There is no room for emotional, mental, and spiritual preparation and transformation.
During the conference I realized that I’ve been so afraid to be who I am–transmasculine–because of a number of things: my own perceptions of what it means to be a man (read: black man), the scarcity of positive black male role models in my life and the life of others close to me, my issues with reconciling my inherent masculinity and my radical feminist ideals, others’ perceptions of what it means if I claim my masculinity (fellow feminists, girlfriends/partners, etc.), and lastly and most importantly, people not “letting” me be male.
Let me explain. By “let,” I mean people’s interactions with me. Because of the way I look (female … and sometimes androgynous) people interact with me as such and expect me to interact as a female. There’s not a lot I can do about this besides change my physical characteristics in order for others to see me the way I see me. Say what? People want me to cut off parts of my chest, take hormones that they have no idea in the future how they will affect me, go prematurely bald–all so that others can see me as male when I already see me as male?!
In short: Yes.
Read the Post The New Masculinity: Redefining Ourselves, Emerging From Our Cocoons