Untitled Rant 

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 me

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 

Me the Mom; Trans-parents pt 3 of 3

I asked this this Jewish guy I’ve been seeing “if you would be anywhere doing anything, past, present or future what would it be?” He gave me a a thoughtful answer about the environment or something like that (a genuinely important topic but not what I was expecting. Then he flipped the the script on me and asked me. 

I sat with my imagination for a few minutes and responded “the fifth birthday party of one of my children.” The images filled my head and heart. I was a mom, a milf. A five foot ten glamorous goddess in heels and a full face of making lighting candles and hosting a birthday party. My child’s birthday party. Beyond the beautiful sight of this happy woman I was celebrating the milestone of the most important relationship in my life. That moment is the definition of motherhood to me. 
I often close my eyes imagine myself in a bath tub soaking head rested on the edge of the tub my eyes peered down looking at my hand that rests atop my ballooned stretched out belly. Eight months pregnant I sit alone meditating me and my baby. Sitting in stillness focusing on my breaths and moving bump. I know this will never be a reality because my body in its existence betrays me. 

I went through years of fearing for my figurative children. What are the repercussions of having a black trans woman as their mother? What horrors will they experience that will ultimately be my fault? 

The positive that gets me through it all is knowing my child could be trans and I’d be the best person to be there for them. I realized all (well most) parents feel so sense of inferiority when it comes to raising their child no matter the identities of the parent no matter the identities of the child. My mom was not a perfect parent to me and I could spend several posts going into a rant on why she wasn’t the most profound fit for the job (but I won’t rant) she was a woman who taught me so much both directly and indirectly. While I have imagined having a different mother I find it difficult to imagine who I would be if she weren’t my mother. 

D.R.E.A.M. ; Trans-parent

“Give me just a little bit longer

Give me just little bit stronger

Give me just a little bit longer

Give me just a little just one more try”  Tory Lanez

 

My legs long like spiders emerge from the backseat of a chauffeured black Rolls Royce revealing satin canary yellow Manolo Blahniks that crunch against the pavement. My cobalt blue ostrich feather jacket dancing in the wind. Sixteen steps from the car to the doorman expecting my arrival. Eyes shielded in over-sized canary yellow cat eye sunglasses.  Lips decorated in Bauhaus pink. Loud clicks of my stilettos echo across the marble lobby to a private elevator. Three….Two….One the elevator opens to a fourth floor suite, the largest suite in the hotel. Three little giggling bodies full of life race around the couch waiting to be chased by their nannies. I sit my Manolos on the floor drop my coat on the table by the elevator and sink into the couch taking in my surroundings as I do everyday when I arrive home.

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4,500 square feet in New York City. Fixtures plated in 24kt gold, a grand piano resting in the corner, a chef’s kitchen with restaurant grade appliances, a formal dining room for twelve,  glistening gold chandeliers, a massive marble fireplace, crown molding, heated hardwood floors, three bedrooms, three and a half baths with mosaic floors and wall tiling, a separate shower and claw-foot tub with gold feet, over-sized closets with dressing rooms, wall mounted flat screens and iPads that control both the room temperature and access to guest services. A standard room on a lower floor acts as our closet; clothes filled racks from wall to wall, bags, shoes; such a cluster fuck of shit I had employ someone to manage the room and commission them to create a manifest of each item for organization and easy retrieval. The entire suite designed with the ambiance of Louis XV.

A state of the art fitness room I use to work out alone every night before bed with Beyonce blasting through my earbuds. I’d then retire to an immense king size master bedroom with its own entryway and living room. And my favorite room is the library where the kids use to study and I use to write because for whatever reason people still want to hear what I have to say even though I was no longer the broke, homeless trans girl who could write her ass off. I am an editor,  the human barbie,  human hanger, the cover girl and mom that brings life to the lyrics  “Let me cover yo shit in glitter I can make it gold” (Rihanna). I was so fucking fabulous Merriam Webster included a pull out poster of me in the dictionary under glamorous.

Every three months with the help of a full time staff we pack our things into black Dior trunk  luggage and rotate to the next hotel.  “Living in a fantasy” (Wale). The Royal Suite at The Plaza. The Central Park Suite at the Ritz Carlton. The Dior suite at the St. Regis. and The Peninsula Suite at the Peninsula. Over and over again. The Plaza, the Ritz, St. Regis, the Peninsula, The Plaza, the Ritz, St. Regis, the Peninsula.

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What an odyssey of experiences for the destitute black trans woman to rise from the ashes to go from being homeless and staying in a public bathroom to now living in hotel rooms costing upwards of 20,000 dollars a night and raising children when there was no one to raise her (in an effective and affirm way). The truth is I don’t care about being a success story or some grand exception I just want a life centered around the two most important things in my life; my children and fashion. My identity as a mom is the most important thing in my life. It’s a dream of capitalism that is also a dream of safety. I am safe surrounded my fashion,  the objects money can buy, my children, bodyguards, a full time staff to attend to all of my needs. In many ways capitalism seems like the only mode of safety for women like me. Money can buy me out of death trans women experience, the catcalling women experience and the overt racism black people experience. Money can also purchase the family I cannot produce on my own.

 

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These images that replay in my mind, the life I dream to have are what keep me moving. They aid my survival. Material things are the meaning of life to me because that’s what I’ve been conditioned to aspire to. My life will be about them, my children. Raising human beings to be decent people. People who learn to treat others with value and care, the opposite of the way society treated their mother. And one day when I am finally  a mother, finally stable and finally a career woman, I will teach that instability to my children in the most stable way possible; change. I will teach them to never settled too long in one place. I will teach them to embrace newness and change before it is forced upon you. My children and I the most important people in the world to me living in our own definition of security. I wouldn’t know what to do with a space I actually owned and it makes me uncomfortable to be in a place too long so I took that power into my own hands and created the system the cycle I wanted to live in and the cycle I knew how to control.

 
“Remember when I didn’t have a thing baby, I swear man all I do was, all I ,all I had to was, dreaaaaam baby, dreaaaam baby, dreaaaam baby, all I had to do was Dream” – Tory Lanez

Arykah’s Story; Trans-parent pt 1 of 3

This is a repost from the first season of The Cis Jungle nearly two years ago. This three part writing about being transgender and parenthood captures the stories of both myself and my close friend Arykah. In her own words, here is Arykah’s story:
“So Daddy, why did you and mommy get a divorce?” These were the words of my then 11 year old daughter as we whizzed down the interstate shortly after I picked her up at Detroit Metro Airport. It was October 2013 and it had been over a year since the last time that I seen her chocolate face, hugged her neck, orkissed her cute cheeks. After 10 years of marriage my ex-wife had enough and decided to leave and took a job and the kids toArizona, a distant land from Cincinnati. The process of separation, divorce, distance, and the tension between the parents fiscally prohibited visits. While I know that some that read this will object to the existence of God, and I respect that view, I credit God with the circumstances that caused my ex-wife to ultimately relocate to Michigan a short time later, a destination substantially closer and affordable to travel to fromCincinnati than Arizona. So after the question, “Daddy, why did you and mommy get a divorce?,” I told my daughter that I would tell her when the time was right, now was just not the time, and she was cool for the time being. I was not surprised by the question and suspected that she had been prompted to askbecause her mother had threatened me in an email six weeks earlier stating, “SInce you are coming out about being a transvestite, when will you tell your daughter? When will you have that conversation? If you do not, I will have it with her. Her interest and well-being are all that I am concerned about.” I explained that I would tell our daughter when the time was right and that I was seeking counseling to determine the best way to explain me being transgender. I had moved from what my ex-wife knew, and I had never used the word transvestite to describe me but I suppose this was her jabbing at me.

Many individuals know that they are different early in life but are unfamiliar with the term transgender, especially when growing up in the years before the internet, we hid, denied,overcompensated, and ran; this was me, Caitlyn Jenner, and Kristen Beck to name a few. I struggled to fit in and faked it as much as I could to be masculine. I played sports, did scouting (eagle), pledged a masculine Greek letter organization in college, worked on cars with my dad, and at times over dated women to overcompensate for my desire to be a female. Realistically, I liked those things then and they are things that I like now, and girls can do them too. My sexuality was never really in question; it was my gender identity that I struggled with. I ultimately married a beautiful woman and conceived a child, my daughter, the focus of this article.

I started my transition in April 2013 knowing that it was going to be a hard road travel, but I was up for it because anything else didn’t have a good ending. I didn’t have a plan but I knew what I had been doing wasn’t working and had to try something different. I was seeing a couple of therapist who were helping me on this journey to resolve some of the unknowns, the largest of which was my daughter. My ex-wife had only a few rules of relationship of which one was “don’t lie to me.” I had lied to her through omission by not tell her about how I felt from the very start, but hell, I didn’t really understand me at the time so how could I explain it to her or anyone else. After divorce, reflection, and research, I concluded that the lesson that I learned was that lying doesn’t pay, my daughter deserved the truth.

It was one month later for Thanksgiving in November of 2013 when I picked up my daughter for Thanksgiving break that she hopped into the backseat of the car, strapped on her seatbelt, crossed her arms, and said, “So daddy, why did you and mommy get a divorce?” At this point I knew that this was not going to go away, nor did I expect it to, I was on a journey and she was with me. I said that we would talk, and as we stopped to get lunch at iHOP I told her that I would tell her during her Christmas break.

I am and have always been an active “father” in my daughter’sand stepson’s life. I can’t take all the credit, but I was instrumental in helping to teach them to cook the basic meals, clean house, drive a car, ride a bike, throw a football, helping with homework, teach life’s lessons, and a plethora of other things. I talk to the kids and am genuinely concerned about what they are going through. I am not perfect, but I am there and learning just as they are. Being a parent is hard and there is no exact blueprint, every child is different and you can paint a pretty picture of what it is going to be, but you have to bringextra paint to the party repaint what it really is.

It was one month later in December that I had prepped myselffor this talk, I had thought about the effects of this on my daughter, and steps to take should she reject me or need help getting through this. I didn’t think that there would be a problem because she is just a loving child, but I needed to be prepared for the worst. I had talked with Trans friends with children in similar situations and I had heard and read the horror stories of friends and acquaintances that waited until their children graduated from high school, college, or grad school to tell them, only to be slapped with rejection. Their children were upset not because the parent was Transgender, but by the factthat they had been taught to tell the truth and be upstanding people, yet here their parent had been lying to them and not living authentically for years. Additionally, my encounters taught me that younger children are moldable, more accepting, and less judgmental; there was room for us to grow together, and society had changed so much in the last 30 years.

She jumped into the car and with that same routine and zeal, asked the question, “So daddy, why did you and mommy get a divorce?” I didn’t want to start our time together on this, so I diverted the conversation until New Year’s Eve. I had told myself that I wanted to start the year anew, so this was it. That morning she made breakfast and I said, “let’s watch a movie,” sowe hopped on the couch with a quilt and watched the HBO movie “Normal.” The movie is about a rural family of four in which the husband comes out as being Transgender. I chose the movie because it was very similar to our family and my story, the children were about the age of mine, and it presented a lot of the issues that families and transgender individuals go through. About half way through the movie I stopped and said, “you have been asking why mommy and I divorced, well it is because I am like Ruth, I am transgendered.” Don’t get me wrong, this was not the only reason for divorce but it was the main one, we had other problems, and according to my ex-wife she has no problem with me being Transgender, her problem was that I lied to her and didn’t give her a choice, fair enough.

My daughter didn’t blink or seem to be phased in the least bitwhen I told her. I explained a little more about me by telling her that I would always be her daddy and that while I might change on the outside, I would always be the same person to her on the inside. I showed her some pictures, and asked if she had any questions, she didn’t. We finished the movie then decided to go to the mall, and on the way she said, “Daddy, I am going to need a picture of Arykah.”
Children are interesting creatures, most simply wanting to express and receive love while being extremely accepting of most things that aren’t harmful. I use to believe that it took both a mother and father to raise a child, and while I still believe there are a few gray areas where this thinking has some value, I also know that given the world that we live in, good parenting, love, time, and attention go a long way regardless of the gender make up of the parents. I still do believe that it takes at least twoparents working together to create balance for their child’s development, and that those two parents know that being a parent never ends.”
To read more be sure to check out Arykah’s forthcoming book.

“In Exile: Beautiful Struggle.” The Cis Jungle will share details of the release as they come! And of course once the book is released I will be doing a review!

2016

2016 has been an interesting year by far one of the most complicated and trying years to date. I grew into an all new understanding of myself womanhood and maturity. I can remember with clarity how I spent my last New Year’s Eve. In my room in Bed with Grayson (my cat) watching the ball drop in New York City. This New Year’s Eve New York City is my home (and I am not going to time square to watch the ball drop, though its only a subway ride away. )

I struggle to put into words the pain and growth I have experienced in the last 365 days. Trying to cope with the pain of what it feels like to exist in my body. An existence I become more and more increasingly aware of with each day. In 2017 I will strive to focus more on the one person I somehow endlessly neglect myself. I don’t expect the coming year to be the most delightful year because I recognize it will take hard work to begin on the path to wholeness and happiness a year of tireless grinding. Thank you to all of my readers this year for making The Cis Jungle twice as great as it was last year with readership doubling! 

Bell Hooks said “To be a black woman writer of non fiction and to be read is to be blessed and highly favored” and I feel truly blessed to have all of my readers. Happy New Year!

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