A letter from a nonbinary Black woman

By America Medious (they/them/theirs)

I’m never more irritated than when I have to beg for my own existence to be respected by my own community. I remember fighting with my own family about whether or not I was ashamed to be Black because I spoke differently and was into “white people shit.” At one point I was convinced that I was anti-Black. I wasn’t fluent in AAE so I was absolutely convinced that I must hate where I come from and who I am and my people. As an adult, with more lived experiences than 12 year old me had, I can see that I was just going where I was accepted. Or at least, where I felt I was accepted.

I’m speaking for no one but myself, but I’m going to speak. I don’t owe any of the following information to anyone, but I’m so fucking irritated that I feel compelled to share it. Also, let it be said, if you are Cis, please sit this one out. This is not your conversation. 

I remember being about 5 or 6, my mom walking in on me in the bathroom, straddled across the toilet peeing. I remember her yanking me off the toilet and spanking me, saying, “ This ain’t how lil girls use the bathroom.” I remember being confused. Now an adult, I recently saw my own pronouns in print for the first time ever, and I was ecstatic.

Not too long ago I came across a post that specifically mentioned femme-presenting nonbinary people (like me), and how they were making a mockery of transness. I’m not gonna lie–I was, and still am hurt. Especially since cosigning that same post was someone whom I admired and genuinely wanted to become friends with. This nastyass, anti-nonbinary sentiment brewing in the binary trans community feels like a punch to the gut, a betrayal.

Here is what I would like to say to the author of that post, and those who share their sentiment.

You’re seeing my identity as a cop-out, a refusal to pick one side or the other, when in reality, my identity is a resignation. All of my options have been considered. I’ve carried a child, and during the entire time, I was waiting, hoping that finally I would feel like the gender I was assigned, because I was doing biologically what was expected of me: what I was “supposed” to do, what my body was “meant” to do. Surely this would prove to me that I was in the right body, and I could blame my earlier confusion on the trauma of my upbringing. I could move on with my life, fit in, have it easy. But that did not happen.

I distinctly remember the father of my child telling me when I was still a believer that there was NO WAY I could consider myself a Christian and nonbinary because the god I served made A Man and A Woman, and by stating that I was neither, I was going against Him. And you know what? I’m fucking sick to death of being told who I am because of how I look and really, really, I was under the impression that this was something we had in common as trans people. But while I’m fighting for inclusion and acceptance for all trans people, binary trans people included, and hollering that transmen don’t owe folks masculinity and transwomen don’t owe them femininity, y’all have made the conscious decision to punch down. 

My mere existence is a mockery? Baby, I do the most for The Culture by just existing. To me, y’all ain’t no better than Dave Chapelle. “America!! How can you say that??” Because it’s true. Dave Chapelle is a Black man, one of the most marginalized groups in America, and yet he can somehow make jokes about trans folks as if Black trans people don’t exist and pretend to be ignorant to the harm done. At the end of the day, Chapelle’s views are rooted in White Supremacy and Misogyny, and so are yours. But you know what? I’ve still got you. But know that I peep that. You’re cool with me opening up my big mouth and standing up for you because that’s the role I’ve been relegated to–that of the supportive Black woman–because of the way I look and the marker that was checked off when I was born.  You love it when I’m “sassy” for you, but outside of that, any critique or pushback is a “No” from you, dawg?

Since scientists haven’t figured out how to medically transition me into one of the bubble beings from Stepsister from Planet Weird, I’m gonna hangout in this meatsack I’m stuck in and decorate it as I see fit. You don’t have to like it, but from over here it’s:

America (they/them/theirs)

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