For my inner black girl

I cried for about 30 minutes today after watching the video of Lil Reese assaulting a woman while a room full of people, excepting one other woman, stood around and did nothing. It took me about 10 minutes to get through the video because it was so hard for me to watch. I, like so many people who’ve experienced black womanhood, understand exactly what it feels like to have someone with privilege over you harm you while others do nothing. I’ve been assaulted by cops, doctors, teachers, family, friends, strangers, and it has overwhelmingly been done in public spaces with witnesses who did nothing. The majority of those who assaulted me were white men, but as the video and the recent viral video with the bus driver beating a female passenger show, the violence is condoned because the victim is a black woman.

I think this is one of the reasons it was so hard for me to come to terms with being trans. My life as a black woman was, and is, the predominate factor in who I am. The treatment I received crushed me, made me turn my hate inward, almost killed me, but the lucky fact is that I survived, and I’m stronger and happier now than those who hurt me when I was small or held down, drugged or otherwise not able to fight back. I get my strength from black women, from our struggle, beauty, and our brilliance. The pain of giving up black girlhood is almost as challenging as the pain of dysphoria.

I don’t identify as male, but I receive male privilege. I’ve been taking testosterone for almost a year, and the way people have begun to treat me in public, even when I’m wearing gold hot pants, is dramatically more respectful than when I was being perceived as a woman. I haven’t heard someone call me a fag or a dyke in public in almost a year. It’s been about six months since a man in a public space has followed me and attempted to touch me without my consent. In work settings I no longer have to fight to be heard - people are already listening(this is because my workplace is nearly all black).

My biggest struggle with these changes is that I’m complicit in them. I am responsible in any interaction with others that contains sexism. While my femininity definitely places me in a lower position in the social hierarchy and has made me a target in many settings, the thing I’ve learned is that when I’m being read as a man others are constantly giving me chances to prove that I’m a man by participating in sexism. Because of this, I’m constantly fighting for the black girl inside of me.

This is why I can’t give up my inner black girl. I need her to keep me accountable. She has lived experience, 25 years of being considered much less than human, even by those she seeks community with(black men, white queers). It’s my inner black girl who doesn’t take shit anymore, who learned that she is her own savior, her own hero. While people will still try to hurt us, physically and otherwise, she’s the part of me that can’t ever be broken. I’m grateful that she lived through what no child should have to, and I’ll spend my life defending her for what she’s done for me.