In The Cis-Jungle, everyone wants to be an individual and be different, without making a difference to the status quo. But then there are those that shine brighter than the status quo, but that shine is often birth from rejection and fear by people who don’t understand the nature of accepting people that don’t mirror them – the status quo.
The status quo are cis-gender people that live their lives in freedom from being rejected from housing; being rejected from medical services; being rejected from employment; being rejected from their family, because they are the norm – the status quo. For those of us that are not the status quo, the gender non-conforming people; trans-people; inter-sex people; LGBTQ+ people; we have to navigate this jungle as an actual jungle that has real danger. Our lives aren’t a fictional stories like the jungle book where Mowgli find his people at the end of the story. No, in this jungle, the cis-jungle people are dying, but people are also thriving, and if you’re a successful story, there’s the concern of being tokenized, but that’s a different conversation for a later time.
That said, The Cis-Jungle is a dangerous and magical place, and maybe one day, the majority of cis-people will allow themselves to challenge the status quo, because the status quo hurt them first, then everyone else second.
I want to thank you for the past two years of joining me in celebrating identity and queerness. You all have expressed to me how powerful my writing has been to you, but I don’t think I have expressed how powerful it has been for me and what your thoughts comments and interest has helped me grow, challenged me, and validated my experiences and ability as a writer and I am thankful.
We are a community The Cis Jungle is a community and in the next twelve months I will strive to make this space more of a community space which will serve all of us with special attention being paid to black queer and especially femme persons. I do not want The Cis Jungle to be seen as my space but rather our space, our community space. I have lots of ideas and surprises that will take place in the next twelve months. When I began The Cis Jungle two years ago today I did it without the consciousness of considering the launch of this blog was taking place in women’s history month or twelve days before Transgender Day of Visibility, but I ended up in good company.
This year and every year moving forward we will celebrate The Cis Jungle’s anniversary for twelve days, one day to represent each month of the past year. The celebration will begin on actual anniversary date of The Cis Jungle, March 20th and coincidentally end on Transgender Day of visibility, March 30th. Please join us for the next twelve days in celebration as we kick off the next twelve days with contributing pieces from black queer people, videos, photos from the pst year and new posts! Please continue to read, share, comment, and help me grow.
In the words of a black woman I deeply admire “To be a black woman writer of non fiction and to be read is to truly be blessed and highly favored.” -bell hooks
Happy 2nd Birthday to The Cis Jungle!
With gratitude and love,
Christian Carmen Olivia Jane
From The Cis Jungle!
Support trans women affirm their womanhood.
I remember the days as a child, a teen and into my early adulthood those occasional nights when I asked and prayed to God not to wake me. I want to be so far away from the help on earth i was and in some ways am still living. I wanted to end to be peaceful and natural. Trying to cross that line between surviving and living because the only place I live is in a fantasy.
I wished for death because I was isolated confused and alone. I didn’t know where I belonged I didn’t understand who I was. I thought I was the only one feeling this pain. And now I have a much clearer understanding of who I am I still feel isolated.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time fantasizing about it and romanticizing about the idea of death by suicide. What is the purpose of life? Does that purpose vary depending upon the identities you hold? At 24 years old that felt easily like four decades.I still remain unaware of why I occupy space on this earth I am so far from who I want to be from the person I want the world to see. Part of my dilemma was I experienced so much pain in my life I wanted ironically end my life in happiness.
Long before I ever wrote it out for all the world to read I had a romantic fantasy about how I would end my own life. Before moving to New York was even a plan I knew Bergdof Goodman would be the place if ever. For as long as I could remember is always been enamoured with the iconic store perhaps most known for its grandiose and opulent holiday window displays. Probably the most glamorous store I was commoner would have access to. I’d stroll in taking in the warmth and aerodecence of the the fragrances that collided in the air. I’d smile to the make up artists and maybe even sit down to let them practice their skills on my face. Eventually I’d make my way over to evening wear and finally caress the $34,000 Valentino gown I lusted after. In the dressing room I’d take the gown and try it on. The lst garment is ever wear. Feeling the richness of the fabric on my body. I can’t take My eyes off of myself in the mirror. I think people underestimate how seriously I take the way I look it’s my lifeline the images of who I can and will become fuel me. I want to die as fabulously as I lived. Staring at myself in the mirror I’d be so happy I could die. From my purse I’d reach for a bottle and consume a fistful of pills. My body would begin to shut down and there I would die as alone as I lived looking as fabulous as I lived. I’d open my mouth and recite my last words:
“I am as vain as I allow I do hair I gloss my eyes I touch myself all through the night and when something falls out of place I take my time I put it back I touch myself til I’m on track
Up in the clouds floating higher than ever eh eh so happy I could die and it’s alright”
From the very day I realized I was transgender years ago I never had any doubts about who I was. I always felt I was put in the correct body and correct space and the journey to who I would become was an intentional part of my narrative.
As we neared the end of February I wondered what I would write about this month trying to find some theme around the intersections of my blackness or transness or love but I never found one that inspired me. I never found something to write about because I couldn’t channel the direction of what I wanted say what I needed to say. I desperately wanting to avoid the black trans woman narrative rant I occasionally find myself partaking in.
The work of bell hooks has always been so inspiring to me. There’s a great power in the ability for me as a black woman to read learn and grow from the non fiction written works of another black woman.She often refers to the solitude and loneliness that comes with being a black woman, self identified feminist and she also references the pain of that loneliness and solitude. A whole new level of consciousness that is isolating and cold.
I feel as if people don’t get it. I feel as if people do not truly understand liberalism and feminism. What does it take to truly be non problematic and to constantly and consistently be moving toward something great to the highest purest and truest form of liberation. The white girls and boys and gnc’s seem to love liberalism and feminism as a sport a badge of honor that can be worn when bored. We seem to celebrate our allies more than the people they are allies to (take for example Adele and Beyonce at the 2017 Grammys this month). They feel it is a promotion of their humanity and once they’ve worked to get there it’s not necessary to maintain it. It takes work to maintain your title of a feminist or liberal and trust feminists understand the work never ends no matter how much education or train or feminist friends you have.
And after moving to New York I’ve encountered so many black gay men who possess such a tunnel vision of view creating a black gay men’s community which contributes to the idea of the black patriarchy cis and straight black men strive to create. The true irony about black gay men is the theft and appropriation of our ideas and bodies as women the borrowing of femininity at their convenience. Referring to themselves as “the girls”, “ms.” Donning a pair of 6 inch stilettos or Reffering to their asses as “pussy”. My identity became fun accessories you choose to dispose of at your convenience. BUT they reject the idea of queer women, they exclude us from their spaces, and police our womanhood. How dare you steal the most ideal parts of us and dispose of us, how does that separate you from our other oppressors? I’m still trying to unpack and understand the violence incited against me by men especially black men and men of color. A gay man told me “I was called faggot by people who looked like me before I was ever called nigger by other people”
Everyday I think to myself is this all there is for me? Pain? Loneliness? Solitude? If so then what is the purpose in life? Why should suicide/death not be an option? Is it selfish of me to want more from my life than to be some unappreciated struggling educator whose identities often fit into the tragic narrative of forced sex workers, victims of violence and murder, struggles for jobs and housing. How much is enough for us to bear? What must we endure to be seen as worthy of life, of a livable existence?
It raises the question; can I live authentically as a black trans woman, as a feminist and liberated in its greatest and purest sense of the meaning and still be capable of harnessing the necessities needed for survival? I don’t think that’s possible. But if it’s not possible then what is the compromise? Where do I draw the line. The more oppressed identities the harder
Continuing to be mindful and knowing there are women cis and trans who struggle more than I do the thought of this reality is humbling and continuing to practice gratefulness to God and the unvierse for my fortune for the wisdom I have collected in my 24 years which seemed like decades. I have experienced and learned things in two decades that people before and after me will live and died without even thinking about let alone experience. My heart resonates with lil Wayne’s Album title I am not human. On any given day I feel anything but human. My life and existence as a black person and a woman and a transgender person in America has been turned political. My life and livelihood is up for casual (but crucial) debate. My life in its artistic and freest form has been reduced to scrutiny for reasons I remain unaware of.
Where is my justice? Where is my happiness?
Somewhere along the way I was told who I am is okay, living unapologetically and being authentic is okay that I would be okay. I am anything but okay. I think I was seriously misled. How foolish and naive of me to think this was a team effort. And those girls (trans women) “who made it” who “fight” for justice but lay down every night wrapped tightly in their security blanket called capitalism.
This is black history month and the month of love but what is black? what is love? Does it exist simultaneously and is love possible for a woman like I?
I remember when I was young and niave. I remember when I was unjaded, and not cynical. I remembered when I was friendly and wanted to love everyone. I fondly remember the times I spent with my mother and whenever we went out people would mistake us for siblings because she looked so young. I remember being baby sat by my aunt and dragging my stuffed animal Redd around the city on my adventures with her.
I remember the times before I knew what misogynoy was, the true reality of being black, the what transphobia was and the times before I even knew being transgender was a reality my reality and that it was not a singular narrative.I remember when I was planning my family with four children and being married by 25. I remember as a child wanting and getting mostly what I wanted. I remember the thrill and loneliness of being an only child. I remember the first time I thought I was in love and the first time I had a crush on my teacher in grade school.
I remember how powerful I felt when I recognized the beauty in my blackness.
I remember excatly what I felt like when I realized I was transgender. I remember how free I felt when I the first day I applied and estrogen patch to my body. I remember how inspired I felt when a little girl told me as I walked through the hall on my first appointment for hormone therapy “look at her mommy I want to be like that when I grow up”
“I remember you, you’re who I used to be you still look the same but you don’t hurt like me” -Jennifer Hudson