For the past few months I’ve been developing a new relationship with my coworker named Sienna. She has an electrifying personality and is extremely extroverted. Sienna has a kind of energy that is infectious and gravitational, especially when she walks in the room.
She is a woman of trans experience, which is the first time I have developed a close relationship with any Transgender individual. Hearing her speak with such wisdom and passion about her lifestyle and background has inspired me to dedicate this blog post to her and the trans community.
Before meeting Sienna I was well aware of the trans community and the lack of representation they have. I knew that the Trans community had existed throughout decades and were at the bottom of societies’ totem pole. Yet I didn’t know that my first face to face experience with transphobia would happen within the first day of meeting her.
Sienna and I clocked out of the office and walked up the block toward her bus stop. While waiting for the bus Sienna shared her experiences with transitions. I was amazed at how well she spoke– confidence oozed from her body, you could see it in her posture.
During our discussion, a man slowly drove by us on his bicycle and glanced at Sienna. I’m thinking the man is going give her a compliment or maybe even try to ask for her phone number. I mean C’mon– she’s beautiful! However, the opposite had happened.
The man stops in front of her and shouts out “You f*cking tranny !”, then swiftly speeds away before either of us could retaliate. I was burning with anger. Although the comment was not directed towards me, I felt as if those remarks ricocheted off of Sienna and hit me. That statement was an attack on the queer community, most importantly an act of transphobia which allowed me to witness how close to home this transphobic epidemic actually is.
I turned and asked Sienna how she felt about the situation and she said ” Things like this happen to me all the time, which is why I asked you to come to the bus stop with me. I fear being in public by myself especially at night time.”
As of December 12th, 2018, there has been 24 reported transgender-related murders in the U.S. alone, many of them being misgendered by authorities at their pronounced death. Thinking about this drove me to realize that the people of the trans community aren’t being killed for any reason other than simply existing and living in their truth- imagine that?
“A woman who doesn’t break boundaries will never be remembered”
Sienna’s thoughts on Transphobia
– “I think transphobic people need to educate and understand the community. If those people continuously choose to be transphobic then there is nothing more than I can do. I’m not interested in entertaining anything beyond ignorance. However, as a person of color, there is another layer that comes into play. That layer is racism. Racist statements are familiar within any marginalized community, but being a Trans woman of color comes with more obstacles I have to leap over. Even with the forces of discrimination against me, one thing I never manage to lose is my confidence.”
Sienna’s Top three words of advice as a Trans Woman of Color.
Don’t focus on passing, focus on loving yourself
In the Trans community being passable means to see as acceptable amongst society. Being able to surround yourself with cisgender men and woman without being questioned your gender. In the trans community, many Trans individuals prioritize being passable over loving themselves. No matter what society may think, nothing is more passable then accepting yourself.
2. Don’t get defensive, respectfully educate
The truth is– not all cisgender individuals are not going to understand what it means to be Transgender. It’s not a cis man or woman’s fault that they do not understand the Trans lifestyle. As human beings, we come from many different walks of life. Unfortunately, being Transgendered isn’t normalized……. yet, however, it is the responsibilities of those who are educated to spread knowledge and reach those who do not fully grasp the concepts of being Trans identifying without always being on defense mode.
3. Be Understanding of other walks of Life
In the current era we live in, there are a plethora of ways to express your sexuality and gender identities. The LGBTQ+ community alone breaks down into many different identities like gender nonconforming and non-binary. It can become very overwhelming to some and will often cause people to question other’s identity ( which is ok, questioning is great. It allows for positive dialogue to occur which leads to education). Having a catalog that gives different options to express ourselves gives people the opportunity to explore where they best fit in.
Check out Sienna on Instagram @LivingSienna