Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tired Of Me Complaining About Trans POC Erasure? Stop Enabling It

If you non-persons of color transpeople get tired of me calling out the erasure of non-white trans voices in media appearances about trans issues every time it happens, then stop enabling it

I know some of y'all were muttering 'there she goes again' when I wrote the Sunday post blasting that vanillacentric Transgender In America panel on the Melissa Harris-Perry show and frankly I don't care.

I'm just as tired of pointing out the obvious to your clueless behinds. If
you're going to claim that the trans community is a diverse one, then it needs to be reflected not only in the leadership of it, but its thought leaders and who speaks for it.

And I'm not the only Black transperson who feels this way as much as you peeps who wish to dismiss this commentary or fling the sour grapes accusation would like to think.  
Far too often, we have media erasure incidents like what happened on the Melissa Harris-Perry show Sunday in which the trans talking heads are overwhelmingly white.  We all know there are more than a few non-white trans folks who are eminently capable of speaking on behalf of this community but are repeatedly erased, ignored and frozen out of media opportunities to speak for this community.

And if you think I'm going to be silent about it, y'all don't know me very well do you?
Bottom line is I along with POC transpeople are beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of being erased from another cable media discussion on trans issues once again. 

If you want the support of cis minority communities and more trans people of color to join the trans rights cause, it is imperative that we non-white transpeople and our cis POC community members see the entire trans ethnic rainbow represented.  

As someone said on my Facebook page in the rant I posted that jumpstarted this post:: 

It's the unwritten rule.  Act like you don't see them or hear them and they will go away.  If no one says anything then we are irrelevant.
We are anything but irrelevant to the trans community and aren't going away.  We are makers and molders of trans history and we must be heard, especially in light of the fact we're taking the brunt of the anti-trans violence and discrimination.

You can decry that as 'identity politics' all you want, but you're doing the same damned thing when only white transpeople are deemed 'acceptable' spokespeople to go on the media talking head shows.

This erasure was even more infuriating because Melissa Harris-Perry is a Black woman as well.  It was a painful reminder to the Black trans community of how we got erased when Oprah finally got around to having transpeople on her show and never put one of her own people on her stage to talk about trans issues .
The bottom line of me going off about this Melissa Harris-Perry show erasure is not only am I tired of it,  I don't want to have to see the trans younglings who are transitioning now at ages 10 or less having to fight the same damn battles we're having to fight when they get to adulthood.

It's also about our POC transkids who not only need to see us and have role models they can look up to as they transition.   They need to also see us front and center fighting those civil rights battles with our trans oppressors and talking intelligently about those issues in the media.  

They not only need to see themselves represented, but know beyond a shadow of a doubt we trans elders are doing everything we can with every fiber of our beings to make life easier for those transkids when they get to adulthood.

Yep, this is about our POC transkids and I haven't forgotten how I felt growing up when I wondered if Black people even transitioned.  White transkids have had the benefit of an over half century old trans narrative that has an overwhelming vanillacentric scent. 

They have numerous examples of trans role models to point to and leadership ranks overwhelmingly dominated by transpeople who look like them while the people taking the brunt of the anti-trans violence and discrimination disproportionately look like us.

The trans human rights movement is making the same critical mistake the GL movement has in terms of the erasure and visibility of its non-white members. If you want support from cis minority communities for our cause, you have to show them that there are people in those non-white communities who are trans as well.  Those non white trans people need to be the ones primarily articulating the message that we exist and transpeople deserve human rights.
I'm talking about balance here.  I'm tired of us being stuck with the 'tragic transsexual' and 'unwoman' memes in this community.  Seeing transpeople of color eloquently speaking about our issues, especially on national media shows is an important part of the trans human rights effort and you white transpeople in a position to keep the erasure from happening need to redouble you efforts to stop enabling it.
If you don't, you can guarantee the next time it happens (and sadly I can count on like taxes and another transperson of color being killed somewhere) will probably be writing about another instance of media erasure.   And when it does, I damned sure will be calling it out.

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