Letter # 5
Letter # 5:
it was our first and last date.
wait, let me slow my ass down. I’m jumping too far ahead.
Almost 5 years ago one of my BlackGay friends confessed to me that he didn’t feel that Trans people should be part of the lgbTq+ community. I asked him why:
Him: well, I don’t know. I just..I just..like, it can’t be real. I just don’t understand that.
Me: what’s there to understand?
Him: it’s just too much.
Me: and to many folks, our BlackGay asses are too much and people claim to not understand us. Does that make us any less real? Any less valuable? Any less human? Your understanding of someone has no bearing on the fullness and validity of their humanity, especially those to whom you owe any rights you think you have.
Him: it’s just a lot.
Me: you really need to sit with that. I wish you growth.
I lost respect for him. I was legit shook that as a BlackGay man he could believe such dangerous things about our BlackTrans family. I didn’t have the language of transphobia then, but I knew that shit wasn’t right. It felt counter-Us. counter-liberation. counter-human.
I outgrew our friendship.
Years later I would come to learn that my friend wasn’t an anomaly, and that there were other cisgender people in the lgbTq+ community who thought like him. Others who didn’t understand transness. Others who found it easy to make attempts at erasing Trans people from the greater lgbTq+ movement, ignoring the fact that Trans people are the reason we have a movement at all. It took me a lil minute, but I eventually learned that belonging to a marginalized community is in no way a mask that protects us from ingesting the pollen of oppression blowing around this country. No matter our identities, we are all susceptible to consuming the insidious ideas that flow from misunderstanding and hate.
Cisgender folks in the lgbTq+ community can be and sometimes are transphobic. Yikes.
It was our first and last date. The food was mediocre and his conversation was boring af. The struggle to stay engaged was real. My ears perked up though when he was talking about work shit and said “boxes on forms for gender non-conforming people are too much. Like, two boxes have always worked for us. We gotta stop changing shit and fucking with tradition. You are what you are.”
I asked for the check.
To my cisgender loves in the community whose bodies are home to toxic transphobic beliefs, we will leave you behind. In fact, if we are serious about our collective liberation, we must leave you behind. You’re way too heavy, baby. Toni Morrison once wrote that “if you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” And I’m trying to see what them skies talking about, so it might be time to 86 you. But if you wanna fly with us, you gon need to unlearn some shit. And re learn some shit. First thing you need to learn is that BlackTrans lives matter. It is because of our BlackTrans family that we are where we are. They are our wings. Every day that our beloved BlackTrans community chooses visibility as they move through the world is an act of resistance. They disrupt narrow-minded ass conventions of personhood. They are what radical love looks like in human form. And we, cis folks, benefit from Their sacrifices whether we acknowledge it or not. So put some respeck on Their lives! Embrace Them. Cherish Them.
So that selective consciousness shit some of us keep doing when we choose which things and which Black people to give a fuck about….that ain’t it. Being selectively conscious is not the move. Thinking there isn’t enough peace, joy, and happiness for all of us is not the move. whiteness is at the source of this scarcity mentality. whiteness has led some of us to believe in a hierarchy in which some lives are valued over others. whiteness has coaxed some of us into thinking we must compete with one another for its acceptance. So for the cis folks in the community who engage in transphobia and believe people of trans experience matter less, y’all acting real white. So please stay off social media talking about Black lives this, Black lives that, and how pro-Black you are. You not about that life for real. You’re selectively conscious.
And I could sit here and enumerate all the reasons why we must honor the humanity of BlackTrans individuals, but sharing one reason is and will always be enough.
Reason # 1: We should honor, respect, and protect the humanity of BlackTrans people because they are human. PeriodT.
I mean, we ain’t even gotta get into how BlackTrans people have been on the front lines of every fight for our collective liberation, or how They have insight that the rest of us lack, or how They often choose the love They have for us over the fear They have about what might happen to Them if they decry injustice--but that’s all extra. That’s a gift. Before all of that, They’re human. BlackTrans people are human and deserve and are worthy of the most beautiful things life has to offer. And you not seeing Their humanity nor trying to interrupt anything that threatens it says a lot more about your humanity than Theirs. If you struggle to understand Their humanity, then you have no real understanding of your own.
BlackTrans people have carried way more than their share of the burden, they have played every role that matters, they have sacrificed enough. It is time that we cis folks pull our weight.
We go with BlackTrans people or we don’t go at all. And that’s not to say They won’t go, They won’t fly. Trust me, They will, with or without us.
with or without you.
So if you wanna fly:
Know that BlackTrans lives matter.
Do not retweet or share memes or gifs that misgender, dehumanize, or make fun of the gender identity and/or expression of BlackTrans ppl. This is also true for memes and gifs that turn the trauma of BlackTrans lives into laughable moments. When you come across these memes or gifs, report them. If you find these things entertaining, sit with yourself. confront your transphobia. find out where it lives within you. and then work incessantly to exorcise it from your being.
Do not assume that BlackTrans lives are teachable moments to serve you and your unlearning. BlackTrans people do not have to expend any energy on educating you about their experiences. Many of them might choose to educate you, but understand that every minute They spend explaining their humanity to you is a gift. Be grateful for the gift, but don’t expect it. It’s not their job. They aren’t transphobic, you are. It’s your work. Your shit. Your baggage to carry.
If a BlackTrans person shares their tea with you, resist the urge to share their tea with everyone you come across. That’s not your place. You also have no rights to their tea, Them sharing it with you is their decision.
Know that hating BlackTrans people will do nothing for your healing. Hating Them won’t make you feel any better about yourself. once again, sit with it. Identify the origin of these self-deprecating thoughts and commit to healing.
Know that it’s not a competition. There is enough peace, joy, and happiness for all of us.
if you have a few extra coins, invest them in BlackTrans-led organizations.
Lastly, nothing I’m saying is new. BlackTrans folks have been saying all of these things, some of y’all just refuse to listen.
There’s more shit to do, but this should make a nice start. Oh, and call your cis family in on their transphobia.
And to my BlackTrans family: I am beyond grateful for the grace that you all extend to us, but I wouldn’t be mad if y’all let some of us go. If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down…………..
I love us for real,