The intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender identity can be complex. I have often wondered whether my Blackness somehow invalidates my transgender identity and vice versa. The two don’t seem to mix oftentimes, as we rarely see Black transgender men, especially those with darker skin, in the forefront of any media presence. I am very aware of my Blackness and in some cases, I am very aware of my transgender modifier. There are times that I don’t feel transgender enough because I can “pass” for cisgender, thanks to more than a decade of hormone-replacement therapy and surgery. There are times that I don’t feel Black enough, because I’m not as connected to the Black community in Phoenix as I would like to be.
Despite my feelings of insecurity, being authentic is everything to me. I strive to be proud of all the things that make up who I am. Brother, partner, corporate worker bee, transgender, and Black. Being authentic means learning to love who and what you are in addition to being able to show yourself to others.
Being visible and being counted is essential to our survival as LGBTQ+ people of color. People’s minds and hearts change simply from being able to put a familiar face to one of the LGBTQ+ letters. It is so important that our stories be heard and felt. The more visible we are, the more opportunities others have to see how alike we are. Finding those kinships is what bonds us together, and those bonds are what enable us to build and maintain strong communities.
T. Michael Trimm