I agree with much of what Tammy Peay is saying. Though I do take issue with the argument that Caitlyn hasn’t changed anything for trans women of color. Just like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox and others, any time a trans person, whether in or out of the limelight, decides to share their story, it opens up the discussion, it exposes people to another level of our shared humanity. And while Caitlyn, no doubt had advantages being White and rich, it doesn’t take away from the fact that she will undoubtedly inspire another trans women, of all colors, to feel confident enough to embrace their full selves as well. And Caitlyn doesn’t have to be Black to do that.
And in the Diane Sawyer interview, Caitlyn, when she was still being called Bruce, did acknowledge that Black trans women endure far more violence than trans women of other genders.
But Peay does have a point in that it is not only early but also a tad unrealistic to assume that Caitlyn will champion the issues of others in the Black trans community. Caitlyn did say that she is a Republican. *Sad face.* And, though she didn’t admit this part, it’s clear she’s also a bit of of touch when it comes to issues of trans, racial, and economic discrimination. Caitlyn may experience some trans discrimination. But living in a world of access, she’ll be able to avoid much of the problems other women face, having to live and work without the type of resources at her disposal.
Having lived a very privileged life, I would be shocked, pleasantly so, to learn that Caitlyn was working to combat any of those issues. And just like Caitlyn might not need our support, (though it doesn’t hurt to offer); with other Black trans women, on the front lines, doing this work
, the Black trans community doesn’t really need Caitlyn Jenner as an ally.
I think what we’ll find as more and more trans women feel comfortable sharing their stories, is that, just like any other group of people, there is diversity amongst trans men and women as well. And folks will find themselves severely disappointed if they expect every trans person to be an activist. Not everybody’s cut out for that life, and if Caitlyn’s heart is not genuinely and sincerely in it, then she should leave it alone.
But Peay had me doing a church stomp when she discussed the lack of support we have for our own. We’ve posted several articles about Black trans women losing their lives. And instead of our readers seeing the humanity of this woman and mourning the loss, they ask questions about what she could have possibly said or done to bring her own death upon herself. I would hope the people who ask those type of heartless questions, weren’t being hypocritical in their appreciation of Caitlyn Jenner. Like Peay says, money and Whiteness doesn’t make her life any more valuable.
While I’m sure many people who’ve disowned or disassociated from their LGBT family members, weren’t applauding Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover, there is something to be said about our approval, acceptance and even imitation of some style or even lifestyle once it has been cosigned and approved by White people.
Whether it was needing to see that White people were going to vote for a Black president before we decided it was safe to do the same, or regarding purple, pink and blue hair as ghetto until Kelly Osbourne did it, there have been plenty of times where Black folk have waited for Whites to give us the go-ahead. And the days where we needed their approval are long gone.
Despite the lies we’ve been fed, we never had a reason to be ashamed of who we are. None of us. Black folks, gays, trans men and women, etc.
The Black trans community didn’t need Caitlyn to show them that, as she is far from the first, but it never hurts to see another person being unafraid to be honest with themselves and the world.
You can watch Tammy Peay’s full video on the next page.