When you hear anyone policing the bodies of trans women, misgendering and othering us, and violently exiling us from spaces, you should not dismiss it as a trans issue that trans women should speak out against. You should be engaged in the dialogue, discourse, and activism that challenges the very fibers of your movement.
I was in the seventh grade when I first began to identify as trans and express my gender identity as a girl. My social transition began with growing my hair and wearing clothes and makeup that made me feel like Destiny's Fourth Child.
One of the most difficult parts of 'The Trans List' was coming up with a list of 11 people. For me, what was important was to ensure that we were as diverse as possible across a lot of different intersections.
Reproductive rights are about body and medical autonomy: our collective and deeply personal right to choose what we want to do to/with our bodies. Trans people and feminists should be building natural alliances here.
For so much of my life, I lived feeling as if, if I spoke, if I said something, I would lose everything. I would be pushed out. No one will want me. No one will love me. No one would want to be friends with me. It took me decades to get to a space of saying, 'This is my truth. This is who I am, and I don't care if you like me or you don't like me.'
I just am trans. That's just the way it is. I knew this as a child. But I was told that because I expressed femininity in a boy's body, I needed to be silent about it. To be ashamed. That led to isolation, which then made it easier for me to be prey to a predator in my own home.
It's great to engage with the mainstream media to get messages out, but the most empowering tool is to create records of our lives, and our own images, which are not filtered through judgements, biases, or misunderstandings.
We are all inundated with images that present a limited scope of what is considered beautiful. For American women, the closer she is to whiteness/paleness, cisness, thinness, and femininity, the more she is considered beautiful.
It was through my hashtag #girlslikeus where I connected with other trans women on Twitter and Tumblr. We had challenging conversations, courageous personal revelations, and shared insights and experiences, and just had fun. The hashtag tethered me to many women in my community in impactful, lasting ways.
Because trans people are marked as artificial, unnatural, and illegitimate, our bodies and identities are often open to public dissection. Plainly, cisgender folks often take it as their duty to investigate our lives to see if we're real.
I take the time to show up for people in my field who are often not seen and heard in the same capacity as I am. Applauding other women and queer writers of color enables me to recognize and showcase the abundance of talent and work being created.
Like many teens, I struggled with my body and looks, but my despair was amplified by the expectations of cisnormativity and the gender binary as well as the impossibly high beauty standards that I, and my female peers, measured myself against.
For many, hair is just hair. It's something you grow, shape, adapt, adorn, and cut. But my hair has always been so much more than what's on my head. It's a marker of how free I felt in my body, how comfortable I was with myself, and how much agency I had to control my body and express myself with it.
Femininity in general is seen as frivolous. People often say feminine people are doing 'the most,' meaning that to don a dress, heels, lipstick and big hair is artifice, fake, and a distraction. But I knew even as a teenager that my femininity was more than just adornments: they were extensions of me, enabling me to express myself and my identity.
I want - no, I need - to see images of black girls and femmes twerking, slaying and primping, just as much as I need to see Symone Sanders bopping her head and Representative Maxine Waters reclaiming her time.
Any woman's right to self-identify is a personal freedom I fight for, and those women who claim trans women are not women are perpetuators of gender-based oppression, and all feminists should be upset and moved to action against this.
I was six years old when 'The Little Mermaid' was released in 1989 and was immediately struck by the fiery-maned, melodic-voiced, tail-swinging mermaid protagonist. She spoke to me on levels deeper than her father's oceanic kingdom.
If I'm watching 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta,' there's a part of that that's just escapism. I'm not watching it with a political lens, but there is a part of me that certain things trigger and pull up, where I'm like, 'Oh, that was really problematic.'