Kingston / United States
“If you want to open up to understanding my life as a black trans- man living in the USA, I ask that you first open up to your own truths. Ask yourself, where are my edges? My judgments, hypocrisies, phobias, paradigms? If you say: I have none, then you’ll never understand my experience. In many ways, it’s the unconscious attitudes, behaviors, and actions – the expression of the parts of ourselves that we aren’t aware of – that place my mind, body, and spirit under the very real threat of abuse and violence, daily. Don’t get me wrong, there’s also a very conscious and decisive threat against my existence too, but I’m interested in speaking to those people who think they want to understand, know more, do better. Right now, legislation is being passed across the country to police and criminalize trans- and queer bodies in public spaces – the “bathroom bills” – but they extend far beyond public bathrooms into schools and hotels. Like, Margaret Cho recently wrote: “It’s not about bathrooms … as it was never about water fountains.”
I can share with you a lifetime of survival stories: how I spent the first year of my life in a convent after my birthfather was deported back to Jamaica and my birthmother was struggling to survive in a shelter with my older sister; how I was raised by an amazing woman who passed away from stage IV breast cancer when I was young; how I was beat by the police back in 2002 and it was caught on video, but no one would take the case; how medical malpractice left me hemorrhaging after I received my top surgery; how I fear for my life sometimes, when I’m trying to change in a gym locker room. The list goes on … but, I want to focus on making a connection. I don’t want my story to just be consumed as entertainment. I want my very existence to wake you up! So, I ask you to ask yourself, where are my edges? My judgments, hypocrisies, phobias, paradigms?
Now sit with what comes up, even if what comes up is challenging to accept — rage, shame, disgust, hatred, confusion, fear, jealousy. Then dig deeper, what do those raw feelings bring up? Notice, confusion makes me feel stupid – I reject what makes me feel stupid.
We must ask ourselves, where these thoughts and feelings even come from. Who told us to associate confusion with self-deprecating ideas? If we don’t recognize what’s inside of us, each of us, then my story won’t even begin to till the deep-seeded conflict that has been systematically planted within our hearts and minds, and invariably institutionalized within our society. And, if we don’t begin to uproot these intricately woven internal conflicts, then no matter how visible my struggle becomes it will remain outside of you – rather than becoming a call within your heart to fight for the visibility, justice and equality of all people surviving on the margins.”