Note: Before you read this post, I highly encourage you to read the responses from a few wonderful Black trans women. Their words are amazing, and their narratives are important.
Janet Mock’s piece in Allure: Dear Men of “The Breakfast Club”: Trans Women Aren’t a Prop, Ploy, or Sexual Predators
L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith’s piece in For Harriet: Black Men, Don’t Make Trans Women Pay for Your Fragile Masculinity
The time has come to stop treating Black trans women like punchlines. Nope, actually, it’s been done time. 13 Black trans women (15 trans women of color) have been murdered since Jan 1, 2017. This shouldn’t be happening, it shouldn’t have happened.
Unfortunately, these hate crimes do not happen out of thin air, and many folks do their best to contribute to an extremely violent and transphobic society.
On Friday, the Breakfast Club hosted an interview with Lil Dvual, a comedian who
I had no idea he existed until last night. Honestly, the devil is at work this year even more than usual lately is typically one to “speak his mind.” During the show, one of the ways he spoke his mind was by declaring if “one did that to me” (i.e. if a trans woman had sex with him/dated him) and “didn’t tell me”* (i.e. decided for their safety that they did not want to come out) he’d “probably going to want to kill them” (adding to the 15 trans women–all trans women of color, mind you– that have been murdered this year). And then said “put that book down” when looking at Janet Mock’s** newest book, and proceeded to misgender Janet.
If you care to listen to that part of the interview, it can’t be found here. Cw for some transphobic behavior.
Also: he refuses to be apologetic over his statements, if his twitter is any indication.
Lil, how the actual fuck dare you. How dare you say that trans woman deserve to die, when there have been so many trans women of color murdered for just living their truth, when trans women of color are, as writer Mey Rude says, “exist[ing] at one of the most dangerous intersections in America,” when trans women are HUMAN and aren’t jokes for your little routines. To misgender a trans woman multiple times on purpose on a popular radio show is violent and bad enough. To say that you want to kill a trans women is honestly the worst. And implying that trans women are dangerous tricksters who try to deceive poor cis men into sleeping with them, while ignoring the fact this very idea, along with toxic masculinity, is what’s murdering trans women? Oh my God, you trash-ass human. Grow up.
I would also like to point out that Lil was not the only person in the room. The hosts of the Breakfast Club (Charlamagne tha god, Angela Yee, and DJ Envy) were present, and did little to stop. It’s interesting to note that the men in the room egged Lil on. Angela defended Janet Mock’s beauty***, although she was laughing as well and tried to change the subject early on.
It’s easy to point fingers at Lil’s ignorant ass and Charlamagne and Co.s willful ignorance (so, so easy). And it’s also a good reminder to constantly check ourselves and make sure we’re not bystanders toward fucked up attitudes. Because if we:
- laugh or ignore our friends’ transphobic jokes
- create spaces for women of color and exclude trans women/ allow space for trans women but not their lived experiences.
- forget to listen to trans women of color and cite, respect, and pay them for their work
- only hype up trans women who look like our idea of “feminine” (i.e. cis-passing)
- say things like “he doesn’t have to accept them, he just shouldn’t threaten them,” implying that we shouldn’t “accept” trans woman because something is wrong with them.
- don’t challenge the transphobic comments we hear about Black trans women, or any trans woman
- [this is not an exclusive list, I’m sure we could come up with at least 20 other points]
We’re complicit in transphobia. Myself definitely included.
I’m not trying to imply all cis folks are on the same level of Lil. And this list is not to excuse his actions or get his fool-ass off the hook. However, it’s to serve as a reminder that we benefit from cis privilege, and we need to step up and do better. We need to check people like Lil, and make sure we hold actions that stand in solidarity with trans women.
As a cis Black woman, I’ve been long silent, thinking that a couple of outraged Facebook posts and donations could be enough. And definitely not to knock social media action, or donating to organizations that support trans women of color. Both are important. And I need to also call out trans violence on the daily, on the internet and within my family. I need to make sure when I scream #BlackGirlMagic, I include Black trans women. I want us to say this, and mean this:
And to get here, we’ve got some fucking work to do.
*Hi, friends. Trans folks do not “trick people;” they’re just out here trying to live their lives. There is a STRONG difference between saying “I don’t want to sleep with someone,” and basically saying, “I’m going to perpetuate the narrative that trans women are trying tricky and are trying to sleep with cis men without their consent to justify my transphobia, even though it’s reported that 50% of trans people experience sexual assault in their lifetime.” Lil was not championing for consent. He was championing for violence.
**ALSO, I would like to state that Janet Mock is a goddess and a smart angel and how dare you. No trans woman deserves to be treated with the disrespect Lil showed, and I’m not outraged because he specifically pointed to Janet. However, I do love Janet Mock, and I am not pleased. She is the sun and the stars and she doesn’t need me to defend her because she has got her shit on lock and clapped-back in her amazing way, but still. Leave Janet alone.
***I don’t know Angela, but here’s hoping she would have defended another trans woman that might not have had Janet’s “pretty privilege.”