Often when I try to explain what is to be a Trans Woman of Color and answer the question I’m often asked; “How do you sum up the trans experience?” it’s hard to know where to begin, how do you compress your experiences, your thoughts, and your understanding of the world around you into a simple well worded response. The reality is that there isn’t one. Every trans man, woman, and person has their own struggle, but I can only share with you what I’ve experienced. With this post I am not nor am I trying to be the spokeswoman, Cover Girl or representative of all things trans or all trans people, I am simply trying to bridge an understanding of what its like to be Christian Jackson a trans woman of color. It is difficult for me to open up and share my life especially when I’ve spent so much time trying to build a wall that prevented people from seeing my life, but I continue to do so in hopes that when reading this other trans people feel less alone, I hope that my transparency will aid them.
It’s so difficult to simplify the trans experience because it’s not simple there’s nothing cookie cutter or average about it. In all actuality I’d say my life was cut with a rusty jagged butcher knife, nothing near as delicate as a cookie cutter. I think I’ve lived through some difficult times and I’m still now even navigating them but even my life is nothing compared to dome of the lived experiences of other trans people.
I think being trans sharpens you and strengthens you. The pain and frustration helps you build character. I often see living as a trans person as living in that world of sink or swim, the reality is some make it and others don’t. To an extent everyone lives in that world or sink or swim even cis people, but when you manage to navigate and succeed in a world that was not created with you in mind it’s extraordinary. And when you do it will advocating for change well that makes an icon of sorts.
Lately I’ve been shedding a lot of tears some out of joy and others out of growing pains. I realized that when I cry I pour and I cry frequently within short periods of time because I surprises my feelings so much. It has to come out sometime and when it does it’s dramatic and unattractive and it comes out of nowhere and rarely makes sense but that’s because internally I’ve reached a breaking point, no not where I plan to do something drastic or physically harmful but I crying is sort of a stress relief. I know that these growing pains are preparing me for greatness and iconic success.
As much as people desire to and as much as they care they will never understand what it’s like to be trans. And specifically never understand the intersections that I face as a person who holds the identities of a woman, black person, and trans person. That’s why I fight so hard and work so hard and when I had a job I would be “going overtime on the overtime” because I have to be my everything, working 60+ hours a week traveling to another state working 6 or sometimes 7 days a week for minimum wage. I’ve seen what it’s like to not be my everything and I refuse to be back in that place. And when I go it alone and “fail” I will at least know it was all on me.
I think loneliness is a common feeling for many trans people. Not all trans people are fortunate enough to be in open and affirming spaces with other trans people who get it. I’ve adapted to being alone and grown to crave being alone because it’s safe so much so that I’d trade the companionship of people for a single Elie Saab gown or an hour in the shoe salon at Bergdorfs with absolutely no regrets. And before you judge me realize this:
You will never have to experience what it feels like to loathe the facial hair that plagues your face, even after Nair razors and clippers one more aspect that makes it harder for you to blend into a cis world.
You will never know what it’s like to have to learn how to pee again and dilate your new vagina, the one you knew you were always supposed to have but instead you had to pay $20,000 for it because insurance wouldn’t cover it and you weren’t born with it.
You will never experience the discomfort and mental and physical distress of binding down your breasts, the breasts that you’ve always known didn’t belong on your body.
You will never experience the anxiety or fear of going without the medical care you feel should’ve already been a part of your being from birth.
The truth is I can point out all of these things that could the minds of trans people daily that many Cis people haven’t ever though about and maybe it will spark some sort of clarity or understanding of the privilege Cis people hold but the reality is you will never know what it’s like to feel this way especially while navigating all the other general struggles of life. There’s no way for you to experience what it’s like to have your mind racing with all of these thoughts. It’s impossible to experience the mental toll that holding a trans identity takes on you. There is no way for you to know what it’s like to balance the normal everyday stressors in life in addition to being trans and in my case also black, and female.
That’s how I sum up my trans experience, my personal experience has been sh*tty and sometimes liberating but within it I’ve grown so much and I have to take ownership of that. You can sympathize you can understand the technicalities but you can never get it because you’ve never had to live it.
To sum it up in one sentence I’d say; It’s a cis world and girls like us (people like us) just live in it.