The T Word

Six Seven more of our transgender family and friends have been murdered in this country since I asserted my Pride a few weeks ago in June, when I first wrote about Dana Martin, 31; Jazzaline Ware, age N/A; Ashanti Carmon, 27; Claire Legato, 21; Muhlaysia Booker, 23; Michelle “Tamika” Washington, 40; Paris Cameron, 20; Chynal Lindsey, 26; Chanel Scurlock, 23; Zoe Spears, 23; and Brooklyn Lindsey, 32.

Five Six of the – and I can’t fathom how I’m writing this turn of a phrase – latest to be slain were black transgender women. Their names and ages: Denali Berries Stuckey, 29 (shot in North Charleston, S.C.); Kiki Fantroy, 21 (shot in Miami, Fla.); Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24 (found dead in a car in a driveway in Allendale, S.C.); Tracy Single, 22 (killed in Houston); and Bailey Reeves, 17 (shot on Sept. 2 in Baltimore, Md.). Jordan Cofer, 22, was among the nine people killed by his lone-wolf sibling in the Aug. 4 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

Between the writing of this post and the vetting of this writing by a dear friend whose community is directly impacted by this violence, and now, the moment that this post gets to be out in the world, 23-year-old Bee Love Slater’s name has to be added to this list of names. Slater was found burned in a vehicle in Clewiston, Fla., on Sept. 4.

This week, I called out a neighbor who used the word “tranny” on a post about the Tenderloin and its myriad challenges and quote-unquote realities, and basically demanded that people – my neighbors – put some respect in their mouths when talking about our transgender family and friends, period. (Of course, it wasn’t well received, but I saw that this neighbor also likes gardening, so, y’ know…fingers crossed we can bond over that and Mr. Rogers the matter.)

Paramount to this exercise of writing about the culture in the manner that I have been is owning the shit that I have written in my time, too, so as not to tsk, tsk at the culture and only at the culture. I have a history with the T word anyone can throw in my face, and I would justify my use of it within the calendar confines and the temperature of the cultural room at large during the moment in time I used it. Because I learned from it; that moment in time was an opportunity to expand the scope of how I was viewing and relating to the people in my community I didn’t know. So I got to pay attention to more of them.

O mundo é selvagem enough: We do not need to add to the struggle of our trans community by using harmful language and (tired) tropes (all tropes are tired…). O caminho don’t have to be solitário.

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