By Naomi Toledo, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
There’s a Polaroid, in one of my Mami’s many photo albums, of me and my Papi at my third birthday party. I’m wearing brown corduroy overalls, my go-to play outfit.
My father is lifting me up securely by my waist, just high enough for me to blow out my birthday candles without falling into my cake on the public park’s picnic table.
I love this picture. My dad’s face is as excited as mine as he holds me, my arms relaxed at my side, confident he’s got me.
He’s still got me.
My dad, a Mexican immigrant, was my first model for what masculinity of color looks like. In this photograph, we’re surrounded by family and neighbors, including Mr. Martinez, my dad’s best friend and coworker. They did blue collar work for an hourly wage reduced by taxes, like many immigrants do. (Take that, Mr. Trump.) My father’s version of masculinity goes beyond appearances. It entails a strong work ethic and perseverance, positive traits for any gender, which he passed on to me.
He’s still got me.
After 22 years of steady employment, my father was laid off. He accepted his severance package, and the fact that they probably hired someone younger to do the same job for less. He told me, as a matter of fact, that he was three years away from earning the loyalty Rolex given to company veterans, which could’ve helped pay for my graduate school tuition. He now works for Mr. Martinez, who started his own company, as many immigrants do. And my dad was still able to help me with tuition… as many immigrants do.
He’s still got me.
My family was a Hallmark card of heteronormativity: dad as breadwinner, mom as homemaker, both caring for me and my brother with special needs. Papi couldn’t provide all of our caprices, but proudly put food on the table every day. I still raid the refrigerator when I go home to visit because groceries are something we never lacked. When I left for school, I was told if I was ever in need, to ask.
He’s still got me.
I got my first constructions of masculinity at home, fully conscious that I come from a traditional Mexican family, and these constructions aren’t universal. I mimicked what I liked. We both wear our wallets in our front pocket, and keys on our belt loops that announce when we walk into a room. We share the cultural thought that it’s honorable to be your family’s provider if you choose. It is respectable to be reliable, but still advocate for yourself. He accepted me when I came out as queer and genderqueer, and is concerned for my safety everywhere I go.
He’s still got me.
My Dad was imperfect growing up, with a stereotypical machismo, heavy-handedness, and temper he inherited from his own culture, family, and social norms. But, time gave him wisdom, maturity made him mellow, and he redefined Latino masculinity within the context of the American Dream. He has dreams of retiring with financial security, and supports my dreams as a writer and musician which come with economic uncertainty. His dream for me is that I am happy, and work with my mind rather than my hands like he did. We agree that no type of work is more or less masculine than another.
He’s still got me.
The word masculina in Spanish means masculine female, or female masculinity. It could refer to a tomboy, a gender non-conforming athlete, or any woman-identified masculine person. The word carries no judgement or derision, something many languages can’t offer. My dad knows I’m masculina, and I create my own definition, with him as a positive model.
He’s still got me.
As a boi of color, who are your positive models of masculinity—male, female, or non-binary? What was your family’s definition of masculinity, and how did that influence yours?
By Andrea Jenkins, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
I am proud of my intersecting identities as a bisexual transgender woman of color. I recognize that I live at the margins of mainstream society, even within loosely formed LGBT communities. My Facebook wallpaper features a photo of myself with Miss Major Griffen-Gracy whom I met for the first time at the Trans Faith in Color Conference in 2012. She was being honored at the event for her lifetime of activism and commitment to transgender equality, which began that fateful June evening in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. She was at the Stonewall Inn among other trans women of color, bisexuals, gays and lesbians who were fed up with constant harassment from the police at the historic bar in “the village”.
In an interview with Autostraddle, Miss Major spoke about the travesty saying “The best thing I can remember about that night is that when the girls decided, “no, we ain’t doing this,” some of the girls got out of the paddy wagon and came back. The police got so scared they backed into the club and locked the doors. I mean, if nothing else, that was the funniest thing to have in your mind while watching it happen. And meanwhile across the street, there are all these cute little white boys cheering us on, and saying “don’t hurt the girls!” and all this blah blah. They weren’t in the fight.”
I mention this because it reflects the multiple attempts to erase trans women of color from the genesis narrative of the contemporary LGBT movement—a movement that has established the right for all members of United States society to marry the person they love regardless of gender. This erasure of trans women of color is transphobic, racist, and xenophobic and it needs to stop!
Roland Emmerich’s film Stonewall, in which a young white male protagonist from the farm is lifted up as the savior who threw the first brick that launched a movement, is the latest example of said erasure. When you watch the trailer ask yourself “where are the people of color that made the Stonewall Inn their hangout?” There were very few places that Black and Latina “drag queens”, stone butch lesbians, and openly bisexual folks could hang out because they were not welcome in many other places.
That night people were fed up. Marsha P. Johnson and some of her friends were celebrating when the police stormed the bar. Marsha threw her shot glass in a moment that has come to be known as the “shot glass heard around the world.” After that night, Marsha and Silva organized marches and rallies advocating for equal rights and the end of police harassment. They formed an organization called S.T.A.R.S., Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries, to address the needs of homeless youth, offer clothing, shelter, and other basic needs.
My dear friend, Reina Gossett, is doing just that. Her new film Happy Birthday Marsha tells the true story of that night and the subsequent events that led to what too many people mistakenly call the Gay Rights Movement. Trans women of color wrote and star in the film. (Please support the film)
This whitewashed, pinkwashed story of the Stonewall Riot cannot occur unchallenged. We must not stand by silently while our histories are being rewritten. That is why the image Miss Major and I remain on my Facebook page. I want to stay connected to the legacy of unapologetic pride in who we are and what we as trans women, bisexual women and women of color have done to move equality and justice forward.
By Naomi Toledo, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
Lately, a student of color’s focus is often on social injustices in the news, on campus, or on our newsfeed.
No wonder we forget to stop and applaud our accomplishments.
We’re on a mission, School Boi. And we need school supplies. (And I’m NOT talking about those pre-packaged rectangular boxes with the crappy scissors.)
We need supplies and tools tailored to our needs. Here are some recommendations.
DIRTYboi’s Back-To-School Supply List
1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
I mentioned this book in my first blog. I read it before I started grad school, and return often to these principles. Read and re-read the section called Don’t Take Anything Personally. Remember it the first time you hear something sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic on campus. The second time. The twelfth.
Everyone is in a different place in their journey. Call people out and educate when appropriate, and rest when you need. You are valuable, and so is your time. Watch how long you spend engaging with people online. The biggest lesson I learned as a teacher is that you can’t educate the unwilling. It’s not your job to enlighten every non-ally, and what others think has nothing to do with you personally.
The whole system is broken. Don’t let it affect your self-esteem, or interfere with academic deadlines.
2. The List
Who’s your go-to crew? Write those names on a Post-it by your mirror or the Notepad in your smartphone. THIS IS YOUR TRIBE. Check in with them, check ON them.
Put together a list of organizations dedicated to your success and creating community. Find the Black Student Union and Black professional orgs on campus, the Latin@ student organizations, and/or LGBTQ clubs. Get on their mailing lists. Go to as many events as you can. You’ll need the study break, you might get free food, and, make lifelong friends to boot. If you miss the activities fair, visit the student affairs office, or ask around. Your tribe will always point you in the right direction.
That big ass box with 64 colors and sharpener you always wanted. Paint, a guitar, cheap pencils and a sketch book, dance, whatever. Find a creative outlet, your inevitable stress and grades will thank you.
Also, I STRONGLY recommend keeping a traditional journal or online blog.
Facebook status updates don’t count.
4. Get your toes did
Bois get pedicures, too. Besides, you can show school spirit, impress a date, or rock your favorite teams on your toes. I did it.
I know, pics, or it didn’t happen…
Plus, that massage chair, y’all…
On your first day of Kindergarten, were you allowed individual gender expression through your outfit? Many of us didn’t because of imposed social norms, or fear of bullying. Now’s your chance.
-Lucky boxer briefs
-Ice cream cone
First day of classes is traditionally my excuse to wear a bow tie. I call these items “successories” because studies show you are most effective at work or at school when you dress up, whatever that looks like for you.
Nothing beats feeling like a million bucks just being yourself.
Get back in tune with your circadianrhythm. Don’t turn up the night before class. Save the energy for rewarding an A or passing a brutal midterm.
Set an alarm. On time is late, 5 minutes early is on time.
Good luck, bois. As my father used to tell me every morning before school, “be sharp.”
Leave the crappy scissors and ineffective tools behind. Replace pessimism with positive affirmations. Education is your right, not someone else’s privilege. Thank the instructors who inspire you, and don’t wait for a piece of paper to celebrate. Acknowledge each accomplishment. You got this.
Educational justice, economic empowerment, and personal growth matter.
Our lives matter. Our education matters.
By Shereá Burnett, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
I have been struggling with embracing what is lately. More specifically, I have been battling this feeling of being stuck or stagnant. I have been excited about turning 30 since I turned 25. Why? Because I was eager to start the new chapter that so many people promised me that 30 would bring. 28 and 29 seemed so full of setbacks, so – again – I started banking on 30. Everything was supposed to magically fall into place in the days and weeks leading up to my 30th birthday. I was going to start 30 in a completely different space. But… that didn’t happen.
The days leading up to 30 looked nothing like I had expected. They looked quite a bit like the months leading up to 30, as a matter of fact. I was still unemployed, backsliding in my health journey, deciding to end a friendship, dealing with random expenses popping up left and right, and still staring at more goals that I had planned to have accomplished by now. Despite all of my reading and practicing of what is, here I was, resisting. Resisting with everything that I had in me. And why? Because of a date that I had inadvertently made the deadline for a whole new life.
After a few days of allowing myself to have a pity party, I had to deal with the harsh reality: Being sad about and resisting how things are will not change what is. So I can either embrace what is by celebrating the good and embrace the possibilities, or I can continue wallowing (and wallowing has never been a good look for me).
First, I had to have some conversations with a few friends and do some internal reflection. I really had to consider how far I had come. Not in a “bragging/ego stroking” kind of way, but in a “sometimes you have to remind yourself of exactly who you be” kind of way. (Word to my Twitter homie, Roconia aka @eversoroco!) Mentally and emotionally, I am in a much better place at 30 than I have ever been before. I now know my life’s purpose and have taken steps to find a career (or at least some extracurricular activities) in that field. I have much better friendships and even closer familial relationships than I had when I turned 29. Just in 2015 alone, I have accomplished many lifetime goals, such as hearing Dr. Angela Davis speak, seeing Anthony Hamilton and Floetry in concert, and being a contributor to a blog. I have faced several fears and become better because of each of those experiences. As the young folks would say, I guess 2015 has been LIT! (They do still say lit, right?)
So, no, I will not have my dream job, relationship, or life at 30, but I have been taking very important steps on the journey to get there. I have managed not to repeat the same mistakes when put in similar positions and I have survived. Sometimes survival is the best possible accomplishment.
With all that being said, here’s my belated birthday gift to you:
(1) I encourage you to be patient with yourself on the bad days.
(2) Remind yourself of what you have accomplished that cannot be reduced to a mere piece of paper.
(3) Don’t get stuck focusing on how you would prefer things to be rather than dealing with and embracing what is.
(4) Remember to celebrate the small things just as much as the big things.
(5) Remind yourself that you are on your way to greatness and that that is a process, not something that happens overnight.
So, now that we have gotten all of that out of the way, tell me, what are you growing through?
By Naomi Toledo, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
“There is no greater education than one that is self-driven.”
–Neil deGrasse Tyson
If you’ll be engaged in learning this fall, I hope someone has expressed to you the power in what you’re doing. Whether you’re taking your first college class, working on your dissertation, or studying for the GED or GRE, you are doing something amazing.
You’re defying all odds.
As I write this, scholar and activist Cornell West has been arrested in Ferguson, and released. When a prominent Black professor goes to jail during a protest, it’s a reminder that we need to continue to educate ourselves, to arm ourselves with knowledge in order to protect ourselves as we continue to fight a broken system. Watching Dr. West get arrested on the year anniversary of Michael Brown’s wrongful death reminded me that it wasn’t so long ago that our primary and secondary schools were segregated. Our applications were not accepted at many university campuses fifty years ago.
Today, brown bois all over the country are going to school. I am so proud of you.
Genderqueer and trans youth of color are being voted Homecoming Queens and Prom Kings by changing communities. Some of you are hustling and completing your basics at junior colleges while working full-time, others are about to choose a major at a university. Queer women of color are pursuing professional development to improve their craft (if you’re a 6-12th grade instructor, I recommend the Teacher’s College at Columbia in NYC, see if your school will pay for it). And, others are passionately pursuing advanced degrees. Just last year, academia congratulated the first Black woman to get a PhD in astrophysics from Yale, and many of us who entirely defy the binary look forward to the added benefit of the genderless salutation, “Dr.” in front of our name, whether it be of medicine, or philosophy.
Many of you will be the first in your family to graduate from high school or college. For a masculine-presenting queer of color, the road is full of obstacles and people who are scared of you. But it’s worth it.
Some of you aren’t the traditional path type, and that’s awesome. Maybe you are fighting economic uncertainty by changing careers and learning a valuable trade at a technical school, or whipping up dreams at culinary academies, or telling your stories through songwriting in music school. Still others are learning how to make us laugh at our quinceañeras or cumples by becoming successful payasos, magicians, and performers at Clown College, and some of you are working on the actor’s craft in drama workshops and programs.
Maybe you were incarcerated for a while, or you paused your studies as you raised children, and you are now picking up where you left off by taking a class or two after work. Keep going. Some of you are finishing that Master’s degree you started a decade ago. Some of you aren’t in school in the traditional sense, but are working on your personal growth by reading blogs like these, browsing the psychology of trauma section of the library, and attending counseling. Maybe you’re taking a creative writing workshop to hone your poetry skills.
Take a moment. Think about where you are, and what you’re doing through education. You are a role model.
To be continued…
By Takeallah Serena Rivera, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
As I lay in my bed to achieve rest,
My eyes fly open from a burning in my chest.
A pain of pounding and fluttering,
A pain in my heart.
Another sleepless night….3am, 4am, 5am…
Memories of betrayal,
Memories of sharp-cutting words
A neglected woman….
Clutching a pillow in hopes that it will squeeze back
Tossing and Turning…..
Bitterness and loneliness consume my soul
As random women and alcohol consume yours…
Years of heartache, hair-pulling frustration, and hatred consume my body,
While laughter, sexual tingles, and Vodka consumes yours…
My heart rate grows,
Your laughter grows,
Tears flow down my face,
Liquor flows down your lying throat.
My anger rises,
Your member rises.
I loved you,
You hated me
I’ve sacrificed for you,
You’ve cheated me.
I’ve supported you,
You’ve abandoned me.
“You’re an embarrassment to me“
“I don’t care“
“I’m not going to change“
Your words cut through my memories
My shoulders tense
Sweat drips down my face,
Toss and turn…
My head pounds.
I stare up at the ceiling,
Tears stream down my face and stain my cream-colored pillows
…..Another part of me has died
By Sherea Denise, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
What am I growing currently through? Fear.
It seems so odd to reflect on how fearful I was in the past. Some fears developed without me even realizing they were there. What I had started labeling as “defense mechanisms” turned out to be walls that were keeping me from what I wanted and keeping what I wanted from me.
This year has been the year of conversations that lead to realizations. Sometimes it takes really good friends or really loud naysayers to bring things to your attention about yourself that you would not have otherwise considered. (This is where I caution you about not listening to everybody because some people are projecting and others are, for lack of a better word, hating, but I digress…)
I will be the first to admit my fear of public speaking and failure. I have pretty much always acknowledged those fears without ever realizing what those seemingly small fears had grown into. For example, my fear of failure has made me hesitant about being successful because I find myself always waiting for “the other shoe to drop”. It had made me fearful of relationships – friendships & romantic relationships – because the failure of those relationships could potentially bring hurt that I am not always prepared to acknowledge and feelings that I am not always ready to feel. My fear of failure had morphed into some kind of paralysis. I had convinced myself that I didn’t need friends and that I didn’t want love because to acknowledge that I did would mean opening myself up to the possibility of failure with each.
Even my fear of public speaking was tied to my fear of failure. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I mean, who really enjoys embarrassing moments? In my head, being embarrassed was equal to being a failure. So, I had removed myself from all situations and activities where I might find myself embarrassed or failing. The crazy part was that it meant that I had removed myself from life.
I realized I had become so focused on thinking about what might go wrong that I had completely forgotten that sometimes – most times – things go right. Allowing the small moments of failure to outweigh the giant moments of success was a mind game that I had to stop playing on myself. I had to let go of my perceived failures and recognize that some things just weren’t a part of my life’s purpose, no matter how desperately I had convinced myself that they were.
Another realization? Fear is wrapped up in pride and ego.
Our ego gets bruised when we are not immediately successful at something or when others see us “try and fail”. We react from a place of pride, you know, “Oh, I didn’t really want that anyway”, when, in fact, we REALLY wanted it. Now you’re stuck in a space of not going after what you really want because you’ve convinced yourself (and others) that you didn’t really want it in the first place.
I also realized that I had to stop settling for mediocrity on the premise that mediocrity doesn’t disappoint. You can – in fact – fail at mediocrity, especially when you were built for greatness.
I guess that sounds odd, but when you have gotten comfortable in a mediocre existence, you often convince yourself that you are safe. Then even when the mediocre things start falling apart, you realize that you can either accept and embrace that greater is meant for you or you can continue fighting to be mediocre. Personally, I don’t think the mediocre life was ever really meant for me. And if you’re being honest with yourself, it was never meant for you either.
Sometimes the hardest part about fear isn’t the fear itself, but the “undoing” of all the things that we have convinced ourselves of to justify the fear or how we handle that fear. Sometimes what we have to overcome is ourselves, our thoughts, and our perceived failures.
As I write this post, I’ve experienced a solid 3 months of facing fears head on: (1) I admitted my love for someone, (2)embraced a few new friendships, and (3) even participated in my first large-scale speaking engagement. The roads were bumpy and the “fear factor” has yet to completely disappear, but I’ve received a few standing ovations along the way that let me know that I am headed in the right direction.
So, what are you growing through?
By LaTierra Piphus, Managing Editor of The Trifecta Tribe
As my 25th birthday quickly approaches, I have stepped into the dreaded “Quarter-Life Crisis”, as many folks in my age group undergo towards the last few months of their 24th year. I am no different; I have stayed awake at night trying to piece together all of my accomplishments in hopes of being able to call it a “successful life” (whatever that means). Moving down that daunting checklist of goals I’ve wanted to achieve vs. goals I’ve actually achieved, I have to say that I am not completely unsatisfied, but there is certainly still a lot of work to be done. In these few short years of adulthood I have accomplished a number of goals and overcame some major hurdles, especially throughout my teen years after coming out at 13/14 years old. Subsequently, I had a very “eventful” 10 years since, but I digress…
Despite being able to check off some fairly remarkable items of this list, there is always room for growth and I am definitely still growing in a lot of important areas. So what I’ve done to calm this ever-growing anxiety inside myself is developed this tangible and measurable life challenge called #LiveAliveBy25. The premise is that by 25 (which is in only 2 months for me), I want to be deeply and intentionally living the life I desire and deserve through improving my health/wellness, spiritual development, intellectual advancement, self-care practices, self-love rituals & community-connectedness.
The things listed above are areas that I’ve identified in my life which could use improvement in order to access this more meaningful life I am imagining. In a living, breathing document that I revisit daily, I am constantly adding to, rephrasing and specifying the terms and conditions of this challenge for myself and this is what I have so far:
- Health/Wellness: (1)Stop eating so many unhealthy foods if you have the option at that time; (2) Utilize the income-based discount membership from the YMCA that I recently got approved for. (Yaye! Pilates class, here I come!)
- Spiritual Development: (1)Complete 1 artistic piece per month (writing, visual arts, poems, etc.) as additional forms of prayer; (2) Possibly find a new church if any of them resonate with your spirit.
- Intellectual Advancement: (1)Read at least 1 ForHarriet or Black Girl Dangerous Article Per week (2) Read 1 book per month (of your choosing, including lesbian erotica ;-)!)
- Self-Care Practices: Spend at least $X per month on my own Self-Care (excludes things related to work or professional development; includes anything like daytrips to
NYC or extended spa days)
- Self-love Rituals: Say “NO” when I mean it; Say “YES” when I mean it. Always do what feels right because your intuition is not lying to you.
- Community-Connectedness: (1) “Collect” 1 mentor per month (by September you should have 3 new mentors); (2)Be intentional about building new friendships in your new city and strengthening already existing ones.
This is still the initial week of my challenge so I don’t have many updates as of yet, but I will let you all know how it is going (i.e. what challenges I’m facing & how I learn to hold myself in compassion if I’m not able to meet a goal). I welcome your stories about similar challenges you’ve done for yourself and the results. Share it with our tribe on any of our social media networks using the hashtag #qtwocSelfLove & #livealiveby25. Twitter: @TrifectaTRB. Facebook: The Trifecta Tribe. Instagram: @TheTrifectaTribe. Tumblr: TheTrifectaTribe <3
By Dri Burroughs, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
When I came out to my mother, I was 11 years old. And unlike the commonness of that now, I did it when there weren’t many positive images of gay or lesbian people, if any, or information on how to deal with your child coming to terms with sexuality at such a young age. Add to that me being raised in a household where my parents were Baptist Bible Belt believing Christians? You’d think it’d be a recipe for disaster and turmoil.
Surprisingly this wasn’t the case. And for my parents, I am eternally grateful. However, it took some time for my family to understand what having a same-sex loving child meant, but really, it was a process for me that I didn’t understand until I just did. At 11, I wasn’t exactly dating let alone discovering what sex meant, but I knew it wasn’t going to be the same for me as my peers. While they were exploring each others bodies and kissing and telling, I was thinking that it would never be a possibility for me. So, my middle high and most of my high school years were kind of awkward. Holding hands with females who were my friends was the most action that I got. But even then, I’m sure they weren’t aware of such simple gesture meant way more to me than it did to them.
I had my first crush in high school, but she was straight; as it was with most of my crushes, I was the only one that knew about it. I was one of few, if not the only “out” person my middle school and high school years. My first kiss with a girl happened in the 10th grade and it was… interesting. But still, I had no clue as to what I was doing. My junior year was when things started happening more, but it wasn’t until my senior year in high school where the commonness of being out and unashamed started to emerge as a thing. Sure, there were girls that approached me, but it was always on the “hush”, like when I had my first “girlfriend”. I use girlfriend as a loose term because the only two people that knew about us was she and I, and our relationship lasted a month at the most. I didn’t know what I was doing and neither did she. We’d kiss. We’d hang out. We experimented, but it was absolutely nothing worth remembering. Not that I should have been an expert, but dating and sex weren’t exactly things that my parents discussed with me. I was on my own in all this. Because just like me, this was all new to them.
The challenge my parents faced was learning what it meant to have a lesbian daughter. How were they supposed to tell me about understanding a sexuality they’d never been confronted with? I couldn’t ask my mom, dad, older sister or brother. So, I just had to learn on the go. And that I did. And that has pretty much been my journey.
These days, my dating life is in transition, but my family and my parents’ influence in my life is instilled in me which I didn’t realize until recently. I have a little of my mom, but mostly my dad’s character when it comes to my approach to dating. What this means is that I tend to be a good provider, but sometimes, it’s hard to read me emotion-wise. That has been the common complaint from all the women that I’ve pursued seriously. It’s something that I continue to work on simply because I do want that long-lasting life partnership, but I know it takes time.
In some regards, my parents have had some, but not a lot of influence in the areas of dating. I understand that it’s mostly because of the time period they grew up in and the time I came out. I’m just thankful I was never shunned or stifled by my parents in my process.
By Andrea Jenkins, Contributing Writer for The Trifecta Tribe
I played tennis this morning with one of my best friends. We had a great match and I am happy to say that I won. As we played, we discussed the fact that Serena Williams had just won her 21st major title at Wimbledon, and the racist and transphobic attacks she and her sister Venus face as they go on to become two of the greatest tennis players of all time and Serena could arguably be one of the greatest athletes of all time.
An article on autostraddle, does the comparisons of several male athletes, such as Lebron James and Michael Phelps, concluding:
“…Serena has dominated the world of tennis for two generations against a backdrop of racist, sexist rhetoric and commentary from sports fans, sports media, and the general pop culture world at large. Her body is sexualized and scrutinized more than any other athlete in the modern sports world (as is almost always the case with black women). Her powerful presence is interpreted through a dehumanizing racist lens… And she is showing no signs of slowing down. Serena Williams won a Wimbledon title again this morning. Serena Williams is the greatest athlete in America.”
However, The New York Times just published a body shaming article about women in tennis, shading Serena:
“Williams, who will be vying for the Wimbledon title against Garbiñe Muguruza on Saturday, has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame, which packs the power and athleticism that have dominated women’s tennis for years. Her rivals could try to emulate her physique, but most of them choose not to.”
But of one the most egregious public statements disparaging Serena came in the form of a Twitter comment that was quickly shot down by Author J.K. Rowling.
“Enraged author issues withering riposte to Twitter troll for body-shaming Serena Williams…and it gets retweeted 650,000 times. Serena Williams, 33, scooped her sixth Wimbledon win on Saturday Troll said tennis star’s success was down to fact she was ‘built like a man’. Author JK Rowling, 49, responded by branding the troll an ‘idiot’ and posting an image of Serena looking curvaceous in a figure-hugging dress.”
By Maybelle Morgan (Read more: Daily Mail Article)
Calling Serena Williams a man amounts to Transphobia, as it suggests that trans women are not “real women”. It creates the environment that allows society to continue to disregard Trans people and particularly Trans women of color. Remember NeNe Leaskes of the Real Housewives of Atlanta? Marlo Hampton and NeNe Leakes famous feud came to a head when Marlo went on a Twitter rant that included the insult:
“You look like a man under construction and your nose job still needs a nose job.” Thankfully, NeNe refused to respond to that particular piece of internet shade.
One of the ways I try to combat the perception that Trans women are not worthy of respect for our humanity is through my art and activism. In part, because of that artistic and activist engagement, I was invited to be the 2015 Grand Marshal of the Twin Cities Pride Celebration in Minneapolis, MN. While being the Grand Marshall was an honor in its own right, it was important to continue to call for broader engagement around the the way Trans lives remain undervalued. As Grand Marshal I organized a die-in to highlight the unending murders of Trans women of color (up to 11 been murdered since the beginning of 2015). Here is a piece produced after the parade was over, that unites the idea of using art and activism to that end.
I have been playing tennis since I was 14 years old, it started out as a way for me to be competitive in physical activity, at age 54 it is now a form of self care. During the summer months at the very least I play once per week, and many weeks much more;however, in the Minneapolis-winters I play monthly indoors. It gives me space to be one with my body without the realities of the outside world. For a couple of hours, it’s just me, my opponent and the ball. But most importantly it gives me confidence and energy to continue my quest for equality and justice for all people, everywhere.
What’s your self care practice?