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.
If anyone can be said to embody the American Dream, it's Kim Kardashian West.
To say that I loved school would be an understatement. It was my oasis, my sanctuary.
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.
I still have a YA-genre-series type of a book in me that I really want to tell.
For me, as an activist and a storyteller, I'm very centered in ensuring that we show the complicatedness of the human experience that happens to be rooted in my community's trans experiences.
We must resist the pressures of others to soundbite our complicated, nuanced experiences.
We need space to discuss unspoken, uncomfortable dark truths.
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.
We exist in a culture where trans people are constantly delegitimized.
I don't have to explain anything to trans women. Trans women know exactly what's going on.
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.
Movies have always been spaces of refuge for me. For a few harmonious hours, I could escape my reality of being a girl living on the margins.
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.
It is the world's limitations and the myths that we internalize about ourselves that pushes us to diminish our power and ignore it.
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.
In seventh grade, I met my best friend Wendi, who is a trans woman.
Women are so policed and devalued and dehumanized when it comes to the work they do.
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.
Popular culture is most powerful when it offers us a vision of how our society should look - or at least reproduces our reality.
The Internet has introduced me to some of my closest friends.
On my road to self-discovery, only certain terms were available - I didn't use 'trans' or 'transgender' until junior high school, but I was living as trans much earlier.
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.
When marginalized people gain voice and center their own experiences, things begin changing. And we see this in all kinds of grassroots movements.
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.
There's a burden of responsibility for me to show up correct - in my head, if I don't do it right, then I'll get shut out, and then other trans women of color will be shut out.
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.
I want to create the content I didn't have while growing up.
As an activist who uses storytelling to combat stigma, I have always been adamant that we tell our own stories.
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.
The transgender community has always been a part of Hawaiian society, where people who don't conform to the binary system of man/woman, masculine/feminine are accepted or, at minimum, tolerated.
I wrote 'Redefining Realness' because not enough of our stories are being told, and I believe we need stories that reflect us so we don't feel so isolated in our apparent 'difference.'
I hope being honest about my experiences and contextualizing them empowers young women to step into their truths, tell their own stories, and live visibly.
In the evening, I use a cleansing oil - coconut oil also works - to remove makeup.
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.
My parents split before my fifth birthday, and I moved with Mom and my three siblings to her native Oahu.
Our culture often demeans and devalues the work, the pleasures, and the contributions of women and feminine people. This is, in part, why beauty culture is dismissed as unimportant and frivolous.
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.'
I just love to glow, glow glow, so with my skincare and makeup routine, I gravitate to products that help me achieve that sun-kissed, dewy look.
My body, my clothes, and my makeup are on purpose, just as I am on purpose.