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My fridge is covered with holiday cards, smiling faces of loved ones with summaries of their year. Most I read, some I skip, posting them with a magnetic tack, which I look at smilingly as I sip my Kona coffee in the morning.
What strikes me about these cards is milestones: Bri’s first day of school; Aunt Midge’s 90th birthday; Mai and Eric’s wedding. It got me thinking about 2012, a personally monumental year for me, in which I feel I found my voice as a young writer, as a woman and as an activist.
I haven’t written a blog post since July, on the eve of leaving my job of more than five years at People.com. As some of you may know, I’ve spent these last transitioning months traveling, speaking and most personal to me, writing my memoir Fish Food which will be out February 2014.
I’d like to use this space to highlight and list some of the people who have moved me, the events and work that have inspired me and the milestones, mentions and awards that have affirmed me and my work. In 2012, I was honored by an organization created in the legacy of one of my heroes Sylvia Rivera; I made my television debut on MSNBC with Thomas Roberts; I stood witness as two people I love married the love of their lives; I signed my book deal enabling me to truly write for a living; I shared on-air space with my sister Isis King, creating the first-ever segment where two trans women simply spoke to one another; I was among a small group of emerging LGBT leaders being feted at Vice President Biden’s home; and I spoke to thousands of young people and many privileged folks about what it means to stand at the intersections of many systems of oppression.
As we push towards another new year, I want to wish you joy and happiness, as the dearly departed Whitney Houston sang, but above all this, I wish you love – not necessarily romantic, fairytale, prince charming love – but the kind of love that one can only give themselves, the kind of love you attain and embody when you decide to live, own and share your truth.
Love is revolutionary; never forget that.
I was sitting at a coffee shop yesterday with my friend Darnell L. Moore discussing why we write and how revolutionary it is to call ourselves “writers.” He then mentioned the concept of living history, and the importance of disenfranchised communities (who are often not actively heard by the masses) to archive their lives and create their living history.
Darnell’s comments made me think about the blogs that I read daily and the Tweets and the essays and videos that actively are creating images and words about ourselves, our lives, our work and our struggles. I thought about how revolutionary it is that we’re creating our own reflections, a record of our lives right now.
It’s this agency of building this living history that enamors me about digital journalism and the way we live online and off, and I left our coffee date inspired to continue Tweeting, Tumbling and writing.
As I was preparing for bed, though, I read the New York Times‘ piece “For Money or Just to Strut, Living Out Loud on a Transgender Stage” by Sarah Maslin Nir on trans women who spend their evenings on New York’s fabled Christopher Street in the West Village. The piece, featuring trans women of color, was “the fifth in a series of articles exploring how people in the New York City area spend their summers after dark,” according to the Times.
What stood out most to me is this: It took Hoda Kotb approximately 13 minutes into her segment to ask 11-year-old Josie Romero of Tucson, Arizona: “Do you feel trapped in the wrong body?”
Whenever this question is posed, I find it to be more of a leading statement rather than a true inquiry or invitation for a trans subject to speak about their life experience or outlook on their relationship with their bodies. Frankly whenever it’s posed it never sits well with me, and I shared my frustration on Twitter, saying: “‘Trapped in the wrong body’ is a convenient, lazy explanation but it fails to describe #trans people & our bodies every time.”
To me, “trapped in the wrong body” is a blanket statement that makes trans* people’s varying journeys and narratives palatable to the masses. It’s helped cis masses understand our plight – to a certain extent. It’s basically a soundbite of struggle, “I was a girl (boy) trapped in a boy’s (girl’s) body,” which aims to humanize trans* folks, who are often seen as alien, as freaks, as less-than-human and other.