I am a Black and I identify as trans and non-binary.
I navigate the world and I am received as a woman by a hegemonic culture. Some call it “passing.” I call it a tool to navigate the violence folks like me face every day. I use my voice to raise awareness around social justice issues that impact my life and the lives of those around me. I want to share a bit about my reactions, thoughts and analysis about Black men, Black culture, power and consent.
R&B singer Ginuwine recently rebuffed the advances of a White trans woman on a British reality TV show. You can clearly see an example of how power is manifested. This White trans woman is thrusting her whiteness upon a Black cis man.
Transphobia is rooted in anti-Blackness and White supremacy. Trans people have existed and been celebrated for a millennia in pre-western colonization. White supremacy manifests in covert and overt ways from cat-calling, mis-gendering, discrimination, physical violence and even death. Transphobia is also intentional. There are no mistakes, slip ups, and willful ignorance will not save you from the gathering of your edges if you happen to operate from a position of hate.
If you do the research you will see that most of Black trans women are murdered by Black cis men. However, it’s important to understand that transphobia is not something that originated within Black culture or that cis Black men are solely responsible for the violence we face. Yes, cis folk bask, benefit and reinforce transphobia, but I am keenly aware that transphobia it is rooted in anti-Blackness and white supremacy.
I watched the clip several times. Ginuwine was intentional, engaging, and he listened in totality to her position and he decided not to kiss or date this White trans woman, which he is entirely his choice. Let’s not ignore the fact that this man is married with kids. We all have autonomy over our bodies and no one is entitled to someone’s body without consent.
What does it look like for cis Black men to support the lives of trans women, more specifically Black trans women? First on the list is not a date or a kiss.
Instead, I need for cis Black men to stop killing trans women. Yes, the bar is set that low.
You don’t have to date me, kiss me or cuddle up the sofa with me on national television. What we need is an intentional, sustainable commitment from our brothers to actively engage in the elevation of their consciousness and then spread this learning to their brothers so we can all end this perpetual cycle of self-hate rooted in white supremacy and anti-Blackness.
Is Ginuwine transphobic? Try again. Leave that man alone. If you want to engage in calling out transphobic Black men here are three places to start:
- Don’t be White.
- Understand power and consent
- Be aware that transphobia is rooted in White supremacy and anti-Blackness and if your analysis is not centered on destroying that notion, then you are more a part of the problem than a part of the solution.
Scholar, educator and orator Lourdes Ashley Hunter is a co-founder of Trans Women of Color Collective, which was created to cultivate economic opportunities and affirming spaces for trans people of color and our families, to foster kinship, build community engage in healing and restorative justice through arts, culture, media, advocacy and activism. Lourdes holds a B.A. in Social Theory, Structure and Change and Master of Public Administration and is currently a Doctoral Student at Georgetown University.