Tracker Pixel for Entry

Celebrating trans people of color

by Faye Seidler | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Culture | March 1st, 2017

February was Black History Month, a time to celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. While that month has come to an end, our ability to celebrate does not. I wanted to take some time to address some amazing trans individuals of color and share where one can find their work.

Before I get to that, I want to be honest and have a real conversation about race, because that doesn’t happen enough in North Dakota. After all, as a state we currently have a 90% white population. When I attended high school in Fargo, my class had maybe ten people of color out of three hundred. I’ve never been interviewed for a job by anyone who wasn’t white and, while in Fargo, I’ve never been in a room of fifteen or more people where I was the only white person. I’m sure that’s probably the story for most people who’ve lived in North Dakota.

Just looking at that, it should be easy to see there’s likely a lot of racial bias in our state. Mamoudou N’Diaye has a great video online explaining that racism isn’t a binary. He says that a person isn’t either a racist or an angel, but we all have biases to some degree or another. If a person never had any friends, family, or acquaintances that were a different race, there’s probably some bias there.

That isn’t to call people out, but to ask them to consider it and consider their actions when interacting with an individual of color. Consider it when listening to their stories. Consider it when Black Lives Matter rallies and protests. Because the best thing a person can do to limit those biases is to learn from people of other races, persuasions, and orientations.

Let me share a bit of myself to explain; I’m a trans woman, which means I was assigned male at birth. It means I was raised male and was perceived as male for most of my life.

While attending college I studied sociology and considered myself a feminist. Through that I assumed that I understood what it was like for women and, well, for everyone. I read about the perceived danger women would feel walking alone at night, but it wasn’t until I transitioned, it wasn’t until I was female walking down Broadway at two in the morning that I really understood.

As a man I made the same walk after work every night without concern or problem. As a woman I felt a level of vulnerability I could never understand from just reading about it or listening to stories. I realized that I would never totally understand someone else's lived experiences. I could only listen carefully and get an approximation.

That’s the thing, as a white person, I can’t write about the experiences of a person of color nor even a trans person of color. What I can do is talk about the people I look up to, why they matter to me, and where one can hear them in their own voice.

Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are two trans women of color who started the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which was the birth of the LGBTQ+ movement we see today. They constantly give me inspiration, knowing that they lived and fought in a world much crueler than our own and created something better through their effort.

The documentary “Pay It No Mind -- The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson” is on YouTube, covering her life and her last interview. “Happy Birthday Marsha,” starring Mia Tyler, is in post-production but promises to be everything the Stonewall movie wasn’t.

Laverne Cox made history on Katie Couric’s talk show, when she rejected the narrative imposed on trans people and our bodies. The interview is accessible on YouTube and I personally feel it was the proverbial turning point that gave trans individuals a voice we’ve never had before to define our own narrative.

Janet Mock did a similar thing in an interview called “Flipping the Script,” that remains an amazing educational video for how invasive the questions for trans individuals are.

“STILL BLACK: a portrait of black transmen” is a great look into that lived experience, that often gets ignored in public media. Kat Blaque has a YouTube channel with a plethora of fantastic educational videos both on gender and racial topics. Andrea Jenkins leads a local trans history chapter with over two hundred interviews, including my own. Also, GLAAD just released a video celebrating several black transgender trailblazers.

All of these people have shared their stories and put their lives on the line to make this world a better place for everyone, and it’s well worth the time to listen, celebrate, and reflect.

[Editor’s note: Faye Seidler is North Dakota Safe Zone Project Spokeswoman]

Recently in:

After nearly two and a half years since the people of North Dakota voted to pass the Compassionate Care Act into law in the state, medical marijuana is finally available to patients. Only one dispensary is open right now, but seven…

It was an, “aha,” moment, said Jeremy Jensen. A woman had her vehicle towed into the Fix It Forward Auto Care shop in Moorhead. Jensen and fellow Fix It Forward Auto Care co-founder Matt Carlson had the vehicle on a hoist…

Thursday, April 18, 5-9 p.m.Drekker Brewing Company, 1666 1st Ave N, FargoThe folks at Drekker have partnered with a handful of area artists and the Lend A Hand Up program. A program providing help and hope to families facing…

In 2016, the Rand Corportation’s National Defense Research Institute published a year-long study looking at potential consequences for transgender members to serve within the U.S Military. This study looked at seven different…

The Nordic ModelDr. Thea Hunter, a graduate of Columbia University and an adjunct professor of history at a number of elite colleges and universities, recently died at age 63 of extreme capitalism—and asthma—because of lack of…

Cocktail Showdown

​Yo ho ho!

by Sabrina Hornung

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

After three years Jon Beyer aka “Jonny B” has become the face and the beard behind Jonny B’s Brickhouse in Jamestown North Dakota. Besides the largest selection of craft beers between here and Bismarck, wood-fired pizzas and…

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comFYB. Three letters, three words, well known by the guys who make up Cascades, and anyone who is a fan of the five-man band. When asked what genre best describes their sound, I was bombarded with at…

Harmony Korine keeps a tight grip on his title as one of the most critic/critique-proof filmmakers of recent times with “The Beach Bum,” a sultry companion piece to 2012’s memorable “Spring Breakers.” Not without its own…

Arts

​Hold your head high

by Sabrina Hornung

“I started to look around at state arts council positions because I felt that even though I had never done that, I felt like it would be a really good blend of skills, so I started to look around in 2016. A few jobs came up but I…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

It seems like the threats to North Dakota’s Badlands never cease. Let’s go back and revisit Wylie Bice. He’s the rogue, rich, rancher up in Dunn County, on the eastern edge of the Badlands, who’s built himself a private…