like woman

Dear Ann,

I wonder when the last time I put you down was. The time I swore off you for good. Cramming you back into the corner of the toybox. Determined to be the boy you knew I wasn’t.
Oh, Ann why did it have to turn out this way? I’m sure you have gone on to play with other little girls. The church nursery a dangerous place for dolls.
But none of them could have loved you like I did.

I remember rushing to the toybox, as my mother’s footsteps faded, muffled by the carpet. You waited for me there. Week after week. The boy toys scattered around the room, just so, camoflauge and secrecy. You were the sin I coveted so deeply.
I named you after Anne of Green Gables, though I never liked the extra E. And you and I would sit for stolen minutes turned to hours by shame and fear. And I would hug you to my chest as if to say, I love you. I will be back again.
I promise.

Sometimes they would move you to the other room.
Those Sunday girls, in radiant fancy dresses that made my tiny suits look like filth and dismay. They stole you, and I would pull their hair and pester them. My mother wondering what got into me. And I would answer “I don’t know”. I’d sin again for you.
Ann I wanted to take you home with me, I did, I swear. I know you were lonely in that room, in the right back corner of the toybox. I was lonely too. I would have if I could.
But I knew better.
And so did you.
Though you were careful not to say.
You talked to me of playing mommy and princess and were never mad when I held you roughly, with my fingers. Boy fingers, dumb fingers that couldn’t cat’s cradle right, that never braided your hair like you wanted.
But you didn’t mind.
I was your little girl.
And you were my Ann.

It was funny to me that you had a name. Because I didn’t, not a real one anyhow, I had a name they called me and I could tell you why. My mom had told me.
But it wasn’t mine.
Or maybe it was.
Maybe I was stuck with it, stuck trying to be that name.
But it wasn’t pretty.
And you thought I should have a pretty name. And let me try out plenty.
And I loved you.

We both had to hide you and me. Or at least to see each other we did. I hid you so no other girls would find you when I wasn’t alone. That was awful watching you play with them. While I played with cars, always cars. Stupid pointless cars. You couldn’t hold a car, cars never talked to you, or let you pretend your hair was long like theirs. Cars didn’t call you mommy or sister or friend.
You hid because you were wanted.
I hid because I wasn’t.
But at least we had each other.
Oh Ann, at least you were there for me.

I wonder when I put you down for the last time. Back into the corner of the toybox.
Determined not to be bad anymore. Not to have to hide or worry, not to feel.
Was it sad in there? Was it hard being all alone? Did it hurt to think about me? And why we couldn’t be together?

I’m all grown up now Ann.
Most of my girlfriends still have their favorite childhood doll or stuffed animal, in some revered corner of their homes.
But you, well as far as I know you are still there, stuffed into the corner of a toybox in a church nursery.
You are still there, in a corner, right next to whatever remains of my 5 year old girlhood.
I hope you take care of each other.
There, in the dark.
I hope you know, I would still take you both home, if I only knew how.

The Lady with the pretty name you always told me I could be

One year ago today I accepted I was trans.

One year ago today I accepted that after months of questioning that I was trans, that I have always been a girl…reading my journal entries the following days and months, I was so hopeful, so sure that everything was going to be okay.

But it’s not, it’s not okay.  Now I hardly journal anymore and when I do it’s just pain. Pain and fear, pain of being in the closet, fear of losing everything…I never would have guessed last year that one year later I would have, done the things I have to myself.

Today is good though, my dysphoria still sucks, but I see some hope today, some days I don’t, some I think that there’s only one way to be free, but that’s not today.  Today, I’m all right, and one day I’ll be able to be happy, to be comfortable, One day I’ll be able to look in a mirror without hating what I see.  

I owe so much to many amazing people here, I know I’ve never talked to most of you but you all mean so much to me, from the advice of people to just their kind words when I’ve had a bad day. From @baeddlam and @polyhedralprincess to the amazing and beautiful @glittering-snowfall @thewintersouljaboy @starduststarling and @mythtakenlesbian to @okheshivar the very first person I came out to, to my brother @capntrinidad  and to @nymkoon my best friend since high school; and to so many more of you, thank you all for being my friends, I love you all.

How (White) Feminism Failed Gabby Douglas, Leslie Jones, Normani Kordei & many other Black Women

(Image provided by Tumblr) 

by Rachael Edwards 

The world has watched Black Girl Magic (Olympic Black Goddess version)  in action at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Simone Manuel made history as the first black woman swimmer to win an Olympic Gold Medal in an individual event. We cheered as Simone Biles  soared through the air and easily collected medals. Michelle Carter made history by being the first American woman to win gold for shot put. Black women athletes are unapologetically leaving their mark this year.

While the Olympics has been a triumphant time for our community, it has also been a heartbreaking one. Gabby Douglas has won several gold medals individually and for the USA team, but that was not enough. Our celebration was marred as we watched Douglas  be criticized for her hair, for not putting her hand over her heart, not smiling enough, and a host of other reasons. Gabby could not catch a break. She expressed her heartbreak in a tearful interview, “Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the medal podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with.”  As I watched this unfold I saw the support of black women on my timelines, all of us trying our best to garner support for Gabby despite the odds. However I could not help to notice there was an extreme imbalance of defenses for Gabby from white feminists. Many of them, enough of them, said nothing.

Feminism, in short terms, is the support of women’s rights and equality to men. One would assume that “women’s rights” would mean all women, but just like the Constitution, “all men” didn’t really mean all men. Mainstream or (white) feminism will always benefit white women before women of color. We are an afterthought, often not even mentioned.  My critique of this kind of feminism is that it severely lacks intersectionality and will always benefit the majority.

This is not a new concept, but was a blaring reminder that white women have been the face of feminism while black women/WOC are pushed to the side lines.  In 1848, the Women’s Suffrage Movement was birthed and heroines like Ida B. Wells fought for the rights of black women. Historically, a gap in the feminist movement existed between white and black women because the temperance and suffrage movements did not recognize our equal rights. White feminists collectively fail to realize, that the struggle of black women/ WOC effortlessly comes with intersections that are social, economic, and racial. It has and continues to be harder for black women/WOC because of the inevitable combination of white and male supremacy.

Feminism also looks like supporting other women in every facet of womanhood. Gabby Douglas’ situation mirrored that of Normani Kordei and weeks before that, Leslie Jones. These three women share a common experience. Both Leslie and Normani decided to disengage from Twitter because of  disgusting and racist tweets . Specifically in Leslie Jones situation, I questioned the lack of support from her Ghostbuster’s cast members who are all white women. While the entire cast was undergoing sexist remarks because of the Ghostbuster’s remake, the amount of verbal abuse Leslie received was unbearable. Not only did she receive sexist tweets, but racist tweets as well. Normani’s from the girl group Fifth Harmony, incident occurred a few weeks later where she penned an open letter stating, “I’ve been racially cyber bullied with tweets and pictures so horrific and racially charged that I can’t subject myself any longer to hate.” Black women are subjected to be ridiculed, but our feminism does not seem to matter to the mainstream feminist eye. What these women have in common is that (white) feminism is likely not to come to their aid.

White women celebrities have been under the microscope of sexist scrutiny, but have always been supported by other (white) feminists. To be specific, Taylor Swift, Amy Schumer, Patricia Arquette, and Lena Dunham, to name a few. Check out this thread from Caitlin Moran (English journalist, author, and broadcaster at The Times) below:

(Courtesy of Twitter)

Yep. You read it right.

As black women we will always be offered the short end of both sticks.

#LetGabbyLive was one of the hashtags that emerged on Twitter but only after a statement was released from Gabby’s mother that Gabby was heartbroken from the bullying. There should have been an onslaught of support since Gabby stepped on stage, especially from white celebrities who tote “feminism” on their hems.

In hopes that society is making strides towards intersectional feminism, it is important as black/WOC that we hold each other accountable and continue to encourage one another. While the world is figuring out how to include us, we must put ourselves first.  In cases, where we see our sisters being bogged down by cyber bullying like Gabby Douglas, Leslie Jones, or Normani we have to speak up.

In the words of beloved Assata Shakur, “…we must love and support one another.”

Listen I LOVE fantasy novels about badass women overcoming patriarchal societies, but like… I’m also really really tired of fantasy novels about patriarchal societies? 

There’s something very demeaning about the way so many fantasy authors can create fascinating, in-depth worlds and characters and magic systems, but a society in which men and women are simply treated equally is considered “unrealistic.” You cannot tell me that there’s simply no potential world where gender roles/bias aren’t an issue! I don’t believe you! I reject your every-fantasy-society-ever-has-to-resemble-Medieval-times arguments! 

Give me my fantasy novels where kings and queens are equally respected and princes AND princesses get to choose whether they want to become a knight or get married for political reasons and even the villains aren’t sexually aggressive towards female characters because that’s just not a thing you do. I hate this “if you’re a woman you’re never going to be fully safe no matter what world you live in!!” outlook. Bring on my escapist fantasy novels about elves riding into the battle on the backs of dragons sans the misogyny, please and thank you.

one thing that’s hard about being a lesbian, is that regardless of your gender presentation, you are simultaneously conforming to and disregarding societal expectations. if you’re butch, people may see you as less of a woman, but you’re “such a stereotypical lesbian”, and if you’re femme you may be criticised for acting to girly/ wearing too much make up/ whatever, while also hearing, “but you don’t LOOK gay”.

to all lesbians (especially trans lesbians), how you choose to dress and express yourself does not invalidate your identity as a woman or a lesbian, and nor is it bad to conform to stereotypes of your gender or orientation. you are all beautiful and valid, every one.