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What It's Like to be a Young, Black, and Transgender Woman in Washington, D.C.

D.C.’s transgender women of color are carrying the heaviest of loads, but violence and terror and discrimination isn’t the sum total of people’s lives.

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Support, Self-Love and How to Be Beautiful

Despite all of the grim reports, I am encouraged. Today my church, Covenant Baptist UCC, is my support system. It is full of phenomenal, well-educated people who have gone to bat for LGBT issues and believe everyone has the right to be who they are.

We’re seeing more and more influential transgender people of color like writer  Janet MockIsis King from “America’s Top Model” or my friend Dr. A. Elliot, an African American transgender woman who practices medicine here in Washington, D.C. We have social justice organizations like the  National Center for Transgender Equality and health groups  Transgender Health Empowerment and blogs like  TransGriot. We’re more visible and we’re talking about how our peers are dying because they’re transgender.

And for the first time in my life, I feel like the African American trans community is beginning to work together; technology has helped us with that. I also think we’re much kinder to ourselves. We got our start in ballroom culture, which is all about being passable, pretty and fierce. But I think our collective understanding of beauty has become wider and more inclusive.

Personally speaking, I feel a sense of freedom. I’ve undergone this journey and I feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have. I no longer concern myself with being the most passable woman. I used to worry about that a lot. Now I just try to be the best woman I can be. I can say that I’ve undergone a shift in my mentality. I now realize that basing womanhood on being passable devalues other women. I assume that most people know that I’m transgender and I’m OK with people knowing. I’m proud of my experiences. Most importantly, I love myself.

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