My identities definitely influence how I carry myself in the day to day. I’m Black first. Not that I put that identity over my other identities, but that it is my most salient identity. Everyone, and trust me, I do mean every, including other queer folks (that don’t know I’m trans) interact with me in the same way that the mainstream interacts with me as a Black man. Sadly, it’s my Blackness that makes me feel the most vulnerable and in harm’s way, every day. So I try to carry myself in a way that allows me to come home, to my fiancé, every day. Whatever the fuck that means or looks like. I’m just trying to survive.
I identify as a Black, queer transman. To me the word queer goes beyond my sexuality. I was a Black weirdo before it was cool. I was a Black kid raised in Shawnee Louisville, KY that listened to Bjork and hardcore. I dressed “weird” and “talked yt”, and that was pretty queer, at the time, for my neighborhood. As an adult, I navigate through the world presenting as a Black man that usually has a color mani/pedi. Even though views on binary gender performance has changed quite a bit, many of the looks that I get let me know that I’m still (and happily so) pushing the boundaries of Blackness, masculinity, and Black masculinity.
I do often feel excluded from the queer community. I feel that while I have the privilege of navigating through some spaces in a much safer way than other trans or queer identified folks, it comes with a tradeoff. The tradeoff is that the “camouflage” under which I navigate extends into the queer community. Trans invisibility within the queer community is real, whether it’s because our existence is overshadowed by a cis-queer narrative or because if we don’t constantly out ourselves then we’re not recognized.
Xian R. Brooks, MHP is a public health professional and movement researcher, born and raised in Shawnee Louisville, KY. Xian’s identity as a queer transman and first-generation college graduate are the reason that his research centers trans masculine reproductive health practice and knowledge and underrepresentation in higher education health sciences.
Xian is currently the project coordinator at the University of Louisville Health Science Campus Office of Diversity and Inclusion where he coordinates the Health & Social Justice Scholars Program, to develop well-rounded, community engaged and culturally responsive health care providers and researchers. He also leads department research and evaluation, and develops health equity centered curriculum activities. Xian also serves on the Louisville Pride Foundation’s research and impact taskforce.