I have been living my truth daily for 9 years now. For 9 years, I have woken up and known myself to be a woman. Everyday even on my worst ,I have tried to honor that truth as best I can while simultaneously questioning standards and rules and laws and all the outside noise that pervades one’s sense of self. I don’t know how common an experience this is but I did not and still don’t have a vision of myself for who I want to be. But I did know the day that I left my mother’s home that I could never turn back. That I couldn’t go back and that for the rest of my life I would have to grow into myself. Transitioning never stops. There is no end goal and I venture to say even the most acculturated, passable transwomen still contend with feelings of inadequacy and a burning sense that you have to be as “woman” as you can always. We don’t have the privilege especially us Black girls to play with gender the way others can. You’re either man or woman and to have somewhat of an easier time you go as hard as you can with your identity.

The buildup for when I decided that I was going to live my life as a woman set the stage so to speak for how I present myself in the world, how I express myself in the world, the euphoria I experience when I look in the mirror. And I love what I see and I love how I am. And the physical should be a myopic part of one’s identity but let’s face it what you look like translates directly into how the world treats you. I inherited the baggage, trauma, pride and beauty of being a large bodied dark skin woman. I learned that the brand of ” sexy” I espoused in my cross dress phase translated very different on a day to day basis. I learned that on the pecking order women who look like me whether cis or trans, were the most mimicked, denigrated but also the strongest. How they hate us and we often hate ourselves and grudgingly we resist through love too. It’s being unable to block out the lighter , smaller images that saturate norms of beauty and womanhood but still honing your larger, sexy darker self as just as good in spite of lack of endorsement. The only privilege I have been able to ascertain about being trans instead of cis is perhaps the lack of time that I have endured misogyny . Whereas the latter has experienced this in so many forms from birth, I have had to first time experience this as an adult. I’ve known countless women and girls who have sung about how better it is to be a man. And younger me would think to myself how these girls and women didn’t know that “man-ness” and “masculinity” is hard too. And how to boot males don’t have the privilege to be weak or cry whereas in women softness is often encouraged and required. And before the gender police get at me, I find softness to be a strength and not a weakness.

Being trans gives you that interesting perspective. You’re able to see and understand both sides of the binary better than gender normative people. I don’t know if it goes against a “trans grain” if I say this but I don’t and haven’t given up all the traits I had when I was male. I think one that I hold onto is this idea of needing to be strong and tough. And I’ll admit it’s often a facade but it gets me through those rough days on rough streets when I’m my sweetest self. I know that I’m not the woman who will ever be seen as the damsel in distress. I know that I’m not high on most men’s idea of beauty or women’s as well. I know that when I go through the world I have to take myself seriously but also find joy in pissing people off mad that a trans girl is “tranning”. Tranning= the act of being so in love with your trans self and aware of possibly being spooked but not giving two fucks cause you know you’re that bitch.

God willing I’ll see 9 or maybe 49 more years . You never know. If I would say anything to my younger self and to other young transwomen is to ” listen to and trust yourself”. You’ll be amazed at the things you survive and live thru even on your own. They make for delicious memories and unwavering lessons. As transwomen ,we aren’t given a guide or blueprint. You may be the only one you know and that you see in the world but that doesn’t make you irrelevant or crazy or wrong. Just means you’ve been given a special deck to play with.

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