Happy Black History Month!
This month is normally reserved for straight, cis- black people. Every year in school we learned about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. Trans black folks are often left out of the conversation. Even among other black people, they aren’t brought up or revered for their fearlessness and achievements.
I want to honor and recognize some trans femmes who should be in history books.
Mary Jones is one the earliest known transgendered person documented in American history. She was Born in New York City in the 1830’s. Mary was a pioneer in finessing white men for their wallets. She often stole from wealthy white johns who would not turn her in out of fear of bringing their true desires to light. Jones served five years in jail for grand larceny. Her trial was sensationalized and she was humiliated and her image publicized as “the Man Monster.” Although reports say the use of the term “monster” referred much more to the fact that Jones was black and her clients white, rather than having to do with her genitals.
Monica Roberts was an advocate and journalist. She passed away last year at 58-years-old. Her legacy will live on on her blog, the TransGriot. She started her blog in 2006, at a time when coverage of transgender issues by the mainstream media was limited and often deemed offensive.
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy made history alongside legends like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Griffin-Gracy should be considered a legend as well.
She has spent more than 40 years advocating for the marginalized, whether in prisons or on the streets. She spent several stints in prison during the 1970s, and credits her radical political stance on issues like abolition and Black liberation to those experiences.
CeCe McDonald made headlines in 2012 after she was assaulted by a white supremacist.
The assault ended with the racist dead and her serving a prison sentence in men’s prisons. McDonald was released in January 2014 after serving 19 months. Since, she has become the subject of movies, documentaries, and has won countless awards. A prominent activist, she is also one of the founders of the Black Excellence Collective and Black Excellence Tour.
Miasha Forbes is the founder and Executive Director of Just For Us: Gender Diversity Project, a not-for-profit advocacy and aid organization for people who are transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming. She also lends her time to other various LGBTQ+ community based organizations.
In 2020, nearly 40 trans people were killed in the U.S.
66% of the people killed in 2020 were Black trans women.
Black trans women are often targeted and assaulted, but not celebrated and honored. This month take the extra mile to research and discover these amazing people who have broken down countless barriers and who lead the way in activism, culture, and so much more.
“Every day a trans person says, ‘I may die today.’ You ready yourself for war each day. Leaving the house on a typical day, a trans woman prepares herself to endure indignities unimaginable to most of us: to be pelted by rocks, called slurs or referred to not as “she” or even “he,” but rather as “it.”– Miasha Forbes
About Brianna Milon
Brianna is local media professional who loves writing, watching Netflix, and playing with her dog, Weenie and her cat, Fancy. She studied Journalism and Broadcasting at SUNY Brockport and was heavily involved in the campus radio station. Brianna also co-hosts a radio show, “Fat, Black, and Femme”, on 100.9 WXIR. You can find out more on Facebook and Blogspot.
Still thinking about how you can practice antiracism in your every day life?