Transgender Introspective: The “ACT” In Activism

“Altogether, seven trans women of color have been murdered so far in 2017.”

Honestly, this is appalling to me. Not because of the number, but because for as few rights and privileges that transgender persons are barred from by cis people, the deaths of these women are being treated with similar lack of regard as any other ordinary cisgender person. This is a real problem that should be given much more attention that it has received.

…Ha! Easy for me to say.

“When we die, folks barely flinch. And that’s if a trans person is lucky enough to make the news and not be misgendered by the media.”

Lately, I think I am one of those people who don’t flinch.

My reason for penning this introspective is grounded in a personal challenging of how I’ve approached speaking out on behalf of the transgender community at large. As open as I have been about my identity, it’s a wonder how I am still alive. However, for me to even think this way, despite my “slacktivism” behind the computer, is, in many ways, belittling of those on the front lines. On the other hand, nearly all of these murders were not of activists, but every day girls like me just living proudly. Yes, these deaths have occurred predominately in the South, but it would be foolish to believe that the inclination to kill a transgender woman of color only exists in that area.

When I first came out to my mother and sister in 2014, my sister made it clear that she was very concerned about my safety. I reassured her that I was taking measures to ensure I’d be safe, but refused to life my life quietly. Though it has only been 2 1/2 years since then (and just about 3 years since I began HRT), the thought of my life being in danger has since left my mind despite it not being a huge concern for me in the first place. Back then, I had not been exposed to statistics of trans deaths I now am aware of. Yet, even with that awareness, I continue living my life like any other woman would. Cis or trans, no one expects to die while engaging with society, yet I have to ask myself “why am I not afraid that I could end up like one of those pretty girls”?

A broadened perspective of danger and homicide is something I’ve admittedly lacked, and perhaps, ignored more than I’d like to admit.

The article talks a lot about “safe spaces”, the “bathroom bill”, and navigating the legal & health challenges that many trans women of color encounter. The latter is something I can surely attest to, despite having periods where income was good & services were within reach. However, the other two matters have eluded me, save one experience I had at a rave before I had fully committed to who I truly am. Have I just been lucky? Am I just blessed with good facial genes and a relatively petite frame?

Hard to say, but I feel horrible knowing that I’ve avoided making this more personal. That somehow, I’ve circumvented the issues of safely using the bathroom to the point of feeling 100% comfortable doing my own makeup next to another woman. That I feel safe enough to chat with a man on the bus after another man had gotten up so I could sit.

However, what if I couldn’t shave my face? What if I couldn’t afford makeup? These are the hard questions that terrify women like me who are pseudo-stealth, or have fully reinvented themselves in secret. However, as is shown by the photos of those murdered black women, we are dying regardless of how attractive we are and what resources are available to us. And those resources (read: income, housing, health care, legal protections, etc.) are what activists and advocates are still fighting to make readily available to women like me.

Death doesn’t get personal for most people until it happens to someone they care about, or they, themselves, are already dead. One would think that death would make this personal for the LGBTQ community, but apparently it takes a ThinkProgress article for even me to realize how little attention these deaths really are getting from the community, let alone media outlets. Women being murdered for no reason other than being alive needs to be talked about more by those of us who are directly at risk. That includes me. Though I am in no way an “activist”, I do believe that despite my narrative being absent of the basic, societal hardships trans women of all races face, though undeniably skewed towards women of color, me simply living transparently as an ambitious, talented [trans] woman of color as a outlet for education and awareness does support the notion that our lives should matter.

Except that’s the meager extent of what I do.

“How can trans folks expect to be respected and valued when they’re dead, when we are not even humanized and granted such courtesies when we are alive?

I’m still questioning if simply passively pursuing my goals, sharing my story, and educating others as an outspoken black transwoman is enough. Lately, I don’t think it is.

Why Are You Still Here?

According to Wordpress.com, I registered this subdomain NINE years ago. This kind of blows my mind. Nine years ago, I was a Sophomore college student majoring in Interactive Multimedia (Professional Writing / Digital Media) at the very beginning of my questioning days and just discovering the world of blogging. Before that, I was a LiveJournal user regurgitating garbage like everyone else. This blog has evolved many times over and people have come and gone. I wanted to take a moment to revisit MMem’s history and say thank you to those who, for some reason, keep coming back.

Meganekko Memoirs first began on Blogspot.com and I remember those early days well of clawing through shitty CSS code. WordPress was up-and-coming & due to the potential of wider visibility and cleaner presentation, I exported all of my entries to this subdomain “meganelove” that, at the time, fed directly into my anime obsession and fetish for kawaii girls with glasses. It wasn’t all weeaboo-driven though; I figured cute anime girls would be a good way to hook people into reading it. I was mostly wrong about that. Funny enough, it didn’t matter anyway.

As my entries became increasingly more explicit – believe me, it’s really dirty in the pre-2010 archives – I fell into a cycle of making specific entries private for my two friends to read, to making the whole blog private, to opening it up again. After many years, graduating, and being a working adult, I had no way of knowing who was or wasn’t reading and, after many years, still hadn’t established any solid goals for the blog itself. So rather than stressing myself out between trying to care and not caring at all about readership or content focus, I stopped caring completely and, after a while, stopped updating indefinitely.

My life started to drastically change in 2013 and little by little I returned, writing here again about gender dysphoria, sexuality, transgender questioning and the like – what all of my past entries had vaguely eluded to. After beginning my transition and gaining ground in my gender identity, I finally found a purpose for MMem to dedicate myself to sharing my story publicly through this blog. My pre-2010 archives are extremely private and revealing, but just as necessary in giving a referential backdrop to the internal machinations of a low-middle class, black, transgender female in America. My fully realized goal would be for researchers to find valuable, telling proof within this blog to further the validation and societal acceptance of transgender people. Maybe even write about me, if I don’t formally publish my own memoir first.

“If you don’t know now you know.” – Notorious BIG

So, to YOU, the Reader, who has been reading for years, decided to start reading recently, or left and then decided to read again once I started writing again…I humbly ask you: Why are you still here? 

Whatever the reason is, I want to sincerely thank you for being a part of what I’m now trying to build. Honestly, I still feel like I’m writing to no one in cyberspace, but I do know there are some of you out there stalking me under the radar. Occasionally validating me with a Like or, bless your heart, a COMMENT!…In all seriousness though, thank you. I need you. And I want to know you’re out there. I’d love to try ideas, make suggestions, and just be a lot more inclusive in what I offer up here. So, let’s give it a try…

I’m considering investing in an official domain name for this blog & moving forward with attempting to reach and educate as many people as I can about what it means to be black and transgender. However, there’s no point in taking any action if I don’t already have a reader base I can count on to join me on the adventure.

This is where you come in; minimal effort needed on your part.

If you’re still here and like what I do, please let me know you’re out there with a LIKE or COMMENT. By doing so, you’re letting me know you exist and that what I’m aiming to do isn’t falling on deaf ears. I don’t expect much, but I’m thankful either way to anyone who has read even one of my entries.

A Price For Peace

The life I’ve been living since I’ve turned thirty has been unlike anything I ever imagined. I have no real complaints about where I’ve ended up in the whirlwind of events that led to me having to survive on my own. I feel more at peace with both the challenges I face, the choices I have made & the path I am now on.

I’ve had my share of support from those who didn’t really have to do a damn thing for me, and now I’m doing everything in my power to make up for their kindness. I work hard at a job I love & the fruits of my labor are already reaping due acknowledgement and reward. My momentum in voice-over is gradually being revived. Everyone who has ever lifted a finger for me has not been forgotten. I have held onto each significant act of kindness given to me & vowed to repay them in kind.

Honestly, I thought that my world had expanded and blossomed to its full extent. I was wrong. Living as the female I quietly always knew I was has not only been emotionally eye-opening for me, but deeply revealing of how much I still don’t know about myself. All the things I mentioned in the first paragraph that I feel at peace about have played a part in what has seemed like a rapid evolution of my truest nature.

In this moment, I’m so happy I could cry. Though I’m still striving to reclaim all that I’ve lost, I feel zero stress. Things are not perfect, but I accept all that has been offered to me in all of its imperfection.

Every opportunity. Every desire. Every chance to connect.

So much is clear to me now. What I want out of this life. How I want to spend my time. The list of goals that motivate me to keep pressing on. The kind of people who I want to surround myself with. The type of person I would share a bed with…Truly comforting to now be privy to such classified information previously locked away.

So much about my twenties were twisted, fractured, and better forgotten. Thank goodness I’m incredibly optimistic about my thirties being the best years of my life. Cautiously optimistic, but optimistic enough that I’ve dived headfirst into all that being a respectable, responsible,  independent woman can offer.

However, if I’m truly being honest with myself, this cultivated peace does come at a price. Sacrifices of both physical and emotional comfort. The certainty that no matter what, there will always be someone or something serving as my anchor. For the past four years, my “anchor” has been my self. Though I have done well to fortify my psyche to weather many harsh storms, even I experience moments when my anchor reveals its weakness due to a choice I made. Or worse, offering a piece of myself only to be tossed to the side because I foolishly forgot my self & expected more.

And in those moments of weakness, I remember that I only have myself to blame. Terribly lonely, yet frustratingly motivating.

This is the first time of my life I only have myself to answer to. The first time I am in a place where allowing myself to experience the harshness of reality rather than running away makes sense. Logic continues to prevail were emotions would break me…as is most preferable.