I know very well what I am opening myself up to by choosing to address the topic of transsexuality in a blog post that many people will comment on before having read, solely because on the title. To clarify, there is no group of people whom I wish to see harassed or put to death simply for living their lives. Transgendered individuals seek to live life as a gender not determined by their sex as it was identified at birth.
By itself, that may sound simple. In practice, it is not. It takes time to integrate the world when it first awakens to new tolerances, and even then, the system is nowhere near perfect. Anyone wearing a hijab or other Muslim garb is still regarded and feared as a plane-hijacking terrorist in the United States, yet 9/11 happened 18 years ago. And I don’t think the transgender community has had time to master the identity altering process enough to make it less of an obstacle for themselves, and more of an easy transition for a world that largely believes in gender being tied to one’s sex.
While the plight of transgender people certainly includes taking steps toward protection and equality (because we all have to eat, we all have to work, we all have to live somewhere), I can’t help but wonder why so many black transwomen feel it is okay to degrade black women in their quest for gaining visibility and equity. In one sense, I can empathize with their plight because mistreatment isn’t cool. But when I see transwomen fashioning their dress, style, and mannerisms after stereotypes of black women, mocking us for the purpose of a persona they have adopted, I can’t help but question if they really want our help.
I have observed transwomen disrespecting black women by comparing themselves with us in disparaging ways. Many will mock our hair, our bodies, the issues we speak up about, and even taunt us with the idea that if our men look their way, we somehow do not measure up with regard to our own femininity. With such vitriol showing up within the trans community, I am wondering how I would even begin to bridge the waters, if I wanted to.
It seems very similar to the message that comes from the collective of black men, which is that dark-skinned black women are not the first pick for many of them, but dark-skinned black women are also not free to pick anyone else but black men. We inspire transwomen, yet many of them like to mock us with pronounced accents and mannerisms, and when they feel they are under attack or that their voices are falling on deaf ears, so many of them gravitate towards black women for justice comradery...even after trashing us.
Trans entertainers and icons are imploring black women to obliterate the stigma that the collective black community carries regarding transsexuals. We are told to be understanding and kind when black men who’ve portrayed a heterosexual image of themselves get outed by sleeping with transwomen. And lastly, transwomen are asking us to talk to black men about reasoning with their sexuality if they find themselves attracted to black transwomen.
Black women have been largely supportive of the trans movement within the black community, often embracing black transwomen to our own detriment. But the mocking we receive in return doesn’t seem to be dissipating. I have never heard a black transwoman make a case against the abuses committed against black women. Yet, they want our allyship? What is the starting point? And does that mutual agreement mean true support of black women in exchange for our influence? Or are black women expected to speak up and stand up for another group that will only jump at opportunities to belittle or replace us?
I can hear the angry mob stomping this way. But if asking these questions makes me transphobic, I see no opportunity for black women and transwomen to reach an understanding.
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. Her personal development courses are centered on helping women realize their potential from the inside out. When she is not advising clients, teaching, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.