The language of binary gender roles never sat well with transgender rights activist Vann Michael. With no words to accurately convey his identity, he set out to carve his own path.
Out, Queer, Lesbian of Color! If there was an injustice
happening I was there - with my signs, petitions, and a reporter’s hat ready to
blow the whistle, organize, and begin making a difference in the lives of
women, and in particular women of color. Bonding with my comrades, influencing
policy changes, and creating visibility for people of color was a part of my
fiber, my history, my identity.
Secretly, when the feverish rallies, high energy planning
sessions, and passionate nights were
over, I felt like something was missing. I was still empty. I could not quite understand what I was
feeling. I hadn’t discovered the words
for a person like myself. I felt
disconnected at my core, still attempting to lead a productive life. I found
myself at a crossroads. I was weary from getting in and out of relationships,
struggling to express my inward knowing outwardly. I became curious to understand what the T in
LGBT meant. Let’s face it, I had already
grasped the meaning of the Q but never really looked at what the term
transgender really meant.
Queer is just the tip of the iceberg. I was never sold on
the binary rules set forth by society, the ‘a man loves a woman and a woman
loves a man’ storyline did not make sense to me. But through my queerness, I was better able
to recognize who I am. After careful reflection, and a deep conversation with
the Universe, I realized that I am a man.
So when I envisioned myself with a male gender identity expression,
there was a feeling of satisfaction, a partial filling to the emptiness I had experienced
for too long.
Now that I have started to physically transition, something
magical and scary has happened all in one breath: I began to see me - I mean, really See Me. The
me I denied existence because no one could fathom that someone like me existed.
I am here, but am I still Queer? I know that I am not a lesbian because I am
not a woman. Within society’s construct of gender, I am now a straight black
man. Yes, that’s it! Walking in my new
shoes I attempt to break them in – but again, I find the “straight black man” a
bit too narrow and a bit too flat. Who
am I? I cannot possibly have made a
mistake in living my truth. I stepped
back again to take inventory of what my inner self was telling me. My hands
were tied into assuming the position of female because of my birth sex and the
way society conditions us to understand sex, gender, and orientation. As if a laundry list of attributes can
accurately foretell someone’s gender identity: female genitalia, assigned
female, check! If only it were that
Now, through an investigative process of self-discovery, I stand as a
Transgender Black Man. I am becoming
satisfied with my outer self, as it coincides with my inner being. The more aligned I feel, the more confident I
become. The veil slowly lifts and I am
able to clearly see all of me. I learn
that I do not have to ‘role play’ or pretend to be someone I am not. I am able
to explore my maleness.
Although I am afraid, I have also come to slowly accept my
attraction to men. Now a new question will come: What is the purpose of
transitioning just to be with a man?
do you date men who are cisgender, who may not have experiences with men like
When the world sees me, they see a
What happens when they find
out that I love men?
How will the HIV
rate affect me?
Communities of color have
long struggled with the LGBTQI community. I have walked into four of those
letters, and from what I have experienced - the ‘G’ is the most dreaded!
I am a Black Man by Trans experience. I am Queer and I have
come to love other men.
My process has
been less burdened because Black Transmen, Inc. has provided a safe space for me
and other like me to fully come into myself with support through mentorship,
advocacy, and education.
about Black Transmen, Inc. at http://blacktransmen.org
You can support Transgender Students access higher education by donating to the
Black Transmen, Inc. Scholarship Fund at http://blacktransmen.org