It is a trendy commodity for white heterosexual, cisgender consumption

It is a trendy commodity for white heterosexual, cisgender consumption

I grew up in a relatively stable household, maintain positive relationships with my parents and have an undergraduate degree in the humanities

Trans women of color, especially Black trans women, remain on the margins of employment, cultural recognition and education. Trans women of color should not have to be confined to selling their skills in voguing to companies in order to survive. I don’t intend to suggest that voguing is singular (for example, as a means to build kinship) nor that those who capitalize on it are sellouts. TBH, if a trans girl can earn cash in a self-fulfilling way, more goddess-damn power to her! But when voguing is a skill to be sold in the commercial marketplace, its capacity to network disparate queer and trans folks of color is neutralized.

Departing from the example of the voguing appropriation, the push for transgender inclusion and visibility benefits white trans women more than trans women of color. As a biracial college-educated trans woman, I undoubtedly speak from a place of privilege. I am a living example of the ways that transgender women can slip into the heteronormative cisgender professional world. This position clarifies for me, though, the dangers of neoliberal diversity projects that seek to include the exceptional while exploiting and oppressing the many. Some girls like me can now ghost or mutter, “I don’t know her,” to communities of girls that may have sustained them under alternative circumstances. I find myself preemptively mourning the transgenerational communities and cliques and cults and clubs and covens of girls like me that could be and may not be.

But I know sisterhood is alive and well. Nicky, a friend and roommate from college, pops adorably teal estrogen tabs with me over cereal. Nicky beat my face with iridescent powders and glossy balms when my unlearned hands could not; Nicky curled her doll-sized body around my hefty form when boys would not; Nicky pulled up a YouTube vlogger displaying the fleshy transformation of her nether region when my curious, hesitant fingers could not.

“All the loudmouth, back-stabbing, spilling-the-beans marks on my body that I often loathe are transformed into Welcome Home, Girl mats, the icebreakers that thaw the winter of cisgender hell.”

On the eve of my transition, hospitalized for the unbearable loneliness of the closet, I found cosmic warmth from a fellow institutionalized trans woman, Hannah – thirty-something, tall like me with wire-framed lenses. Houseless, Hannah’s life between shelters, doorways and men’s wallets was something that only stepping into the path of a hurtling bus could seemingly solve. The facility offered no counseling. We held each other because no one else would. At the psychiatric institute, there was no LGBTQ Center, a cold institution up in drag as a comrade, like at my college. No, we were confined to rooms that were allergic to points and edges, subjected to the mercy of the doctor’s conception of a healthy mind, and abused by the cups filled with nameless pills.

I have trans gals in my life with whom I love and struggle, with whom I have grown breasts and discovered the impossibility of unrelentingly heterosexual men’s affection

Hannah momentarily mothered me out of suicide. Sitting me down on the rounded-edged couch, she taught me how to breathe. Unshaven legs crossed, hands draped wherever they may fall, gather air through your sniffly nose and release it through your tired mouth. In the void of your eyelids lounge all the women that you are and can be, she breathed. Within one of those sterile institutions, the ones that I have ranted about as vampirically extracting vitality from trans women’s sisterhood, I took flight in a fleeting intimacy with a girl like me.

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