I am Black. I am Caribbean. I was assigned female at birth. I am Bigender. I am Trans*Masculine.
The evolution of identity over the course of my life was elusive until I moved to Oakland. Now, Oakland was a mecca of sorts for all the identities to be fully realized and lived out. Because EVERYONE was something! It was my first time I was introduced to terms like “Queer”, “Asexual”, and a various array of gender formations I had not even considered. It was the first time I ran across folks who identified as Transgender (or Transsexual at the time) living their lives openly, having leadership positions in the community, building family and really THRIVING. Now, this isn’t to say things were perfect for the gender blending, bending and breaking comrades I now call friends, but it was something out of an Afrofuturistic utopian dream of what was possible. A dream which made me heavily consider my own gender, the ways it was evolving and how that begin to shape my reality.
Even when I had moved to Oakland, I had begin to self identify as a “Stud”. A term that never quite fit, cause I didn’t think I was pretty enough and my body-type didn’t quite fit the image that was reflected to me in my community. Oakland opened a world of possibilities about the label I could choose, or not choose, to identify my gender. The process sat thick on me as I watched friends take new pronouns, new names, and new bodies. The question of, “Are you Trans?” became more of a daily reality after cutting my locs, beginning to define my style with more masculinity and my awareness grew about how I wanted to be perceived. The innocent inquiry grew into a heaviness as I began to feel the people around me- at work, at the club, in my dating life- experience the discomfort of my non-binary gender. The pressure to change my body, my voice, the way I carried myself in the world, to squarely fit into a Trans* identity, mounted daily. I felt as though I was being forced to conform to Binarism, to let-go of all the contours of gender to respond to the comfort of those around me. Luckily, as this dissonance of self rose I was surrounded by the love of those who accepted whatever shifting gender identity, expression and roles I wanted to take and not take on. This allowed me to heal as harm was happening, to question, to challenge, and ultimately to observe the ways Binarism was shaping our social justice movements and preventing other Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming Folks/Non-binary folks from being their FULL SELVES.
Now I LOVE movement people! Those who are thoughtful, passionate, and committed to FREEDOM always have my heart- and yet Binarism in our movement spaces can be hidden, overlooked, and over shadowed.
So, what was I going to DO to challenge Binarism – not with the Right Winged Conservatives- but challenge it with the people I LOVED?
Enter in Trans*Visible- A year-long initiative to figure out what challenging Binarism in the movement will do to strengthen our movement spaces and revolutionize our movement strategies. When I was formulating Trans*Visible, I began by asking myself what and who influences movement spaces to transform?
Trainers,Facilitators, and Space Holders.
These movement leaders can be easily overlooked because they aren’t always the person standing on the podium at the rally- but they are the person that helped the rally happen. They aren’t always the executive director of the social justice organization – but they are the person the executive director calls when they want a new strategic vision. Their names, their work can be hidden but the impacts can be felt rippling through our movements for decades.
So, what if we raised the profile of Trans/GNC/Non-Binary trainers who work within our movements? What if we created opportunities for these trainers to not just get hired for gender inclusion work, but to be seen as master strategist, political theorists, and wisdom holders? What if Trans/GNC/Non-Binary Trainers, especially people of color, could set the tone of our movements? What would be different?
Trans*Visible is seeking to answer some of these questions and make new ones to help revolutionize our movement spaces by addressing Binarism. Trans*Visible will officially launch at the 2017 Allied Media Conference as a Network Gathering with year-long programming. Please join us on our journey! (Click Here for more Information)