Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Speech as Violence: Celebrity Peddling Degeneracy to Black Folks is SUCH HARD WORK...,

allure |  Yet I was hopeful that I could use the show’s vast platform to speak directly to their predominantly black and Latinx listeners, who are often excluded from the conversations held in mainstream LGBT spaces (which are largely white, moneyed, and concerned with the centering of cis folk). I hoped I could make listeners aware of the lived realities of their trans sisters, and let them know that we deserve to be seen, heard, and acknowledged without the threat of harassment, exclusion, and violence.

My ultimate goal was to be accessible — to not judge, to call in rather than call out, and, above all, to exercise patience as the (straight cis male) hosts processed my existence. It’s rare that I do Trans 101 lecturing anymore, because I’ve already done that work with my first book, Redefining Realness, which was filled with plain speak and explanatory commas about definitions, statistics, and context.

In fact, I’ve turned down thousands from colleges and corporations because I refuse to engage in Trans 101. Trans folk, especially of color, should not be obligated to help cis folk play catch-up on our experiences. The effort can detract from our work to protect and liberate ourselves. Yet I also know that black and Latina trans women often live in communities of color, so outreach to viewers of color, from The Wendy Williams Show and Essence to Desus & Mero, was vital as I set out on my book tour.

I was invited to “The Breakfast Club” because cohost Yee chose my second memoir, Surpassing Certainty, for her book club. It was my last scheduled media appearance after a long, grueling tour in support of Surpassing Certainty, which is about the years in my life I decided to keep my trans-ness private — largely in order to gain access and maintain my safety. These years coincided with my 20s, when I navigated college, graduate school, and my early media career. The interview aired on radio stations across the country (edited and condensed) and in its entirety on YouTube a week later.

Though I have not been able to watch the video of my interview (I have already experienced it and won’t be doing so again), I’m proud of the labor I put forth, and I’m grateful to Yee for her preparation and effort to steer the conversation away from the particulars of my body and instead toward my work. The interview was what it was, and I refuse to re-experience being asked about my vagina in such blatant, irrelevant, and sensational ways. Again, if I am not fucking you, why do you care?