Episode 9! The Black Girl Dangerous Podcast is back in action! BGD’s Chanelle Adams and Princess Harmony host the episode with special guests Brandie (@feministfists) and Jack Qu’emi Gutierrez (@jackquemi)! This week’s episode is packed with conversations about veganism, PETA’s racism, nonbinary people, and Jaden Smith!
Full transcript below!
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Chanelle: Hey there, welcome back to the Black Girl Dangerous podcast! Mia couldn’t make it this week, but we have some really good segments with Brandie, aka @feministfists, and an interview with Jack. I think you’ll like this episode!
Chanelle: Hi, this is Chanelle, the new Managing Editor at BGD and today I have Brandi aka Tofu Hoe on the BGD podcast to talk a little bit about being vegan and QTPOC because I know that I love being vegan but vegans get a really bad rep and I think it’s time that we talked about the intersection of being vegan and also a queer person of color and I thought who would be better to bring in than Tofu Hoe herself so let’s just get into it! Where does the name Tofu Hoe come from in the first place?
Brandie: Well, I’m always willing and able to eat tofu! [laugh] I love tofu so much.
Chanelle: So that means you actually like tofu. I know a lot of people don’t.
Brandie: Yes, I love tofu more than life itself.
Chanelle: I’ve had some pretty bad tofu in my day, so I’m wondering what kind of ways you like to cook it. I can do it sometimes with a peanut sauté or soy sauce but how do you like it?
Brandie: So I feel like the biggest thing with tofu is that it’s like the texture. It can be really mushy and it doesn’t have a lot of flavor so if you make a marinade and then you leave it overnight, or my favorite thing to do to give it a little more texture is to drain it first, like between two cloths. Like you can put a book on top and you can cut into slices and then you can also put it into parchment paper and freeze it overnight then when you take it out and you fry it adds a nice texture to it and then also, cooking it in a cast iron skillet on a low temperature for a longer amount of time in, like, a nice sauce it will add a nice texture to it. That’s my favorite way to do it.
Chanelle: It sounds like you take tofu all types of ways!
Brandie: Yeah. [laugh]
Chanelle: So why did you first become vegan? How did this tofu obsession start?
Brandie: So, I first became vegan and my early teens. I started getting into the animal liberation movement and yeah I met some cool people out in Worcester, in the Worcester area. They were a little radical for me, so then it kind of put me off and then I went back on and then I got sick and my doctors blamed it on being vegan rather than figuring out that it was something else. So I took a break for a little bit and I’ve been vegan for about six years now.
Chanelle: Oh wow.
Brandie: And yeah, I’m pretty healthy and I first became the for health reasons and then it slowly went into an intersectional reason, where I was just kind of like looking at all the different ways that animal agriculture and animal liberation and the environmental impacts of being vegan as opposed to eating omni. So a lot of reasons, yeah.
Chanelle: Yeah, I mean I’ve found that a lot of the vegan spaces that I’ve entered into, or even just a vegan restaurant, feel like really white spaces to me.
Chanelle: And I think sometimes there these politics that come along with being
vegan that are sometimes like, animal rights are more important than human rights. Animal lives are more important than livable wage.
Brandie Yeah, I have a lot of issues with that. So for some reason people
think when you’re fighting for something you can’t simultaneously fight for other things as well and I feel like that puts people in this really weird place where they don’t think that they can work towards ending oppression for all marginalized groups and people and it’s just it’s really upsetting because you know, for me, I personally am for animal liberation but I’m also for queer liberation and trans liberation and you know like supporting restaurants and businesses that give fair minimum wages and then also fighting for a minimum wages even if people aren’t working at vegan restaurants. Like just because people aren’t vegan doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be fighting for their rights too, like you know you can organize against multiple different kinds of oppression. I just find that really hard, like it would be hard for me to only for animals. Well, also I don’t know, a lot of people don’t like it when I say this but you know humans are animals. We’re human animals. Like, we’re part of the animal kingdom. We’re in the hierarchy of the animal kingdom so I think it’s really important to note that just because I stand for animal liberation doesn’t mean that I’m similar, or like a lot of different vegans where they only want to fight for animals. I want to fight for everyone.
Chanelle: Right? I mean, the key to intersectionality is that we can be both queer and people of color.
Chanelle: People of color who also have other intersections that we care about and having to pick just one when they’re all really intertwined doesn’t make sense. For example, there’s so many people of color who are vegan because of their religion and because of their beliefs.
Chanelle: And often times, that gets left out of the conversation about people who have this culture of being vegan by kind of happenstance of it overlapping with their their faith in their religion.
Brandie: Definitely. Are you able to stand up for animals and also stand up for other marginalized groups? I feel like sometimes people can’t and do you feel about that?
Chanelle: I think about this a lot. I think about how kids are always raising
money at lemonade stands for their local animal shelter. Right, like kids animal shelters and do it for the cats and the dogs and I wonder how it is that we build empathy for animals before we build empathy for people and what are the ways that we can build that empathy at the same time where we can care about animals as, you know, people and also animals like the pets we think about. And instead of it being, you know, save the rainforest it can be save the rainforest and save the block.
Brandie: Yeah, totally. I agree with that.
Chanelle: But what’s really divisive is the way that PETA tries to separate that. So, for example, PETA tries to do also all sorts of stuff but one of the things they try to do is equate the slavery of black folks in the United States with the way that animals are treated in factory farms.
Brandie: Yeah, I’m really uncomfortable with that because that’s not their history. They’re just appropriating a history for shock value and then they never really delve into why they thought that that was appropriate and it just is so upsetting because people of color, since white folks created the idea of race, they’ve been using people of color. There were these zoos in Europe and they would take African people and put them in the zoo with monkeys and chimpanzees use and they were just kept there and they couldn’t leave and this happened in the early 1900s and also as early as the 1940s in some places in Europe and I find that so upsetting. Aph Ko she’s the creator of @blackvegansrock which is a new account on Twitter and also on Facebook and-
Chanelle: Yeah, I saw that.
Brandie: It’s a really incredible video that kind of just breaks down why it’s hard for people to understand how racial justice and the racial struggle also- It’s kind of like along the same lines of animal liberation because white folks, they compare black people to being animals and savages and it’s a really interesting video and I hope everyone if they’re listening and they’re more interested in this topic that they’ll go and check it out.
Chanelle: Yeah, I mean one of my favorite little pins, I collect a lot of political buttons and pins, but I picked this one up a while ago that says “break down all cages”. I think about how that relates to the carceral state, for example, and the way that we put humans in cages and how that isn’t separate from the ways that other species are also put in cages and what it means that we live in a society that thinks it’s ok to treat anybody like that.
Brandie: I have friends that are animal liberationists and they’re also against prison, so they’re prison abolitionists and they make the connections, the ones that you mentioned on the one of your favorite buttons, and it’s just so interesting how, especially for people of color, they’re dehumanized and put into these prisons, many of them for nonviolent crimes, and it’s just kind of like they’re tossed away and it’s just really upsetting.
Chanelle: There’s just so many connections that can be made but then when PETA makes that connection and they put a picture of someone being lynched human next to an animal in a cage, it’s the most inappropriate.
Brandie: Totally. It’s because they don’t delve into the issues of why these types of oppression exist. They’re just using it for, like I said for shock tactics, to make people feel guilty, try to make people go vegan, and then that kind of is, in so many ways, classist, ableist, and racist in itself because you know what’s this whole kind of idea like, “going vegan is easy.” It’s actually a lot of work and if you’re taking care of yourself, that’s one thing but if you have a family or if you live in a rural area or if you live in a desert in a big city, like these things aren’t easy to do and if you’re being so divisive to say these two things are the same but then you’re not explaining or having people who it’s their history talking about it and going deeper into the issues and where it’s coming from, which is mostly coming from white supremacy and capitalism, you’re just like, I don’t know just kind of like this huge explosion and then nothing comes from it, it just makes people feel, “Oh yeah, I’m not contributing to that so I’m a good vegan” or “Look at those vegans, you know they’re racist and all of these isms and they’re not really helping people”. They’re just guilting people and shocking people into being vegan and I just think it’s really messed up.
Chanelle: Right. When I see those ads I think, ok what are they trying to say? Black man being lynched next to a cute little animal and then a white person looks at it and thinks, “Wow! I can absolve myself and my white guilt by becoming a vegan!”
Brandie: Right. And you can’t do that. You have to actually become anti-racist.
Chanelle: Right and you know a lot of the local movements for food also has all of these racist and classist undertones in this healthy, or “healthy”, diet where sometimes the labor practices are the same, such as farms that are closer may have smaller staff and less labor practices, for example, than a large scale farm.
Brandie: And a lot of the farms they actually play into environmental racism, where a lot of these huge farms in America are in the South and they’re placed in areas where people who are in the community lack access to lawyers and people who can stand up and protect them against that. They have these big pits in pig farms and at cow farms, where they take all the waste and they just put it in this huge pit and over time all of the toxins in the feces and urine, it all adds up and then it doesn’t have anywhere to go and it just kind of goes into the ground and then it can make people sick. It can give people asthma, it can also go up into the air and there’s so many communities that are affected by this environmental racism and it’s so disappointing.
Chanelle: Yeah. It’s so interesting to me because I’ve really just fallen into this. So, I found out six months ago that I’m really allergic to eggs and dairy and so I became a vegan by accident. I wasn’t really planning on it.
Brandie: Were you vegetarian before?
Chanelle: Yeah, I was vegetarian before, just raised vegetarian. We never had meat in my household growing up and I never really wanted to try it but then when I found out that I had to become vegan I freaked out and for a month, I like only ate carrots cause I didn’t know what to cook and I tried looking at all of these blogs and it was all of this PETA stuff. It was white women covered in fur and blood and cute bunny rabbits and these recipes of food that didn’t even really look appealing to me. So how did you find a community around being QPOC and vegan?
Brandie: So, I actually have a large group of friends who are queer people of color and who are also vegan in Boston and I also know a lot of people in New York. I had to specifically search out places on the internet. When I would show up at a vegan get-together, I don’t go to them that often now because they’re very white and when I talk about intersecting oppressions they all kind of shut down and look at each other. So I don’t really feel comfortable in those spaces anymore. So, for me, I create my own space and sometimes it’s in person and then sometimes it’s online with my Twitter family. But you know, for people who have access to the Internet, like creating a space on the internet’s really great. Like I said, like @blackvegansrock is incredible. The Food Empowerment Project is actually run by a Mexican-American Latina woman and she’s very amazing. Their Twitter account is really great at amplifying different events that are going on. I kind of just boycotted the white spaces and I got all my friends together and said let’s make our own spaces and we’re actually talking about making a queer/trans POC supper club maybe once a month and starting in the summer time and I think that would be really great. Online space is probably the best because I know, especially in rural areas, it’s a little difficult to find even just one vegan let alone like a queer/trans POC vegan who you can sit down with and talk to without having to feel like if you bring up issues of being queer, trans, and a person of color along with being vegan you’re not gonna get shut down or people are gonna just act inappropriately and not support you.
Chanelle: Yeah, it sounds like you’ve really forged your own community and if you do those soccer games I will definitely slide over to Boston.
Brandie: Yay! So what are some of your favorite kind of online groups? Have you seen Black Vegans Rock? It’s new.
Chanelle: Yeah, I was just looking at the blog today.
Brandie: Yeah! Awesome! Also, Sistah Vegan Project is on Facebook. It’s not as active on Twitter, the Facebook group is really, really incredible. Dr. A. Breeze Harper is an incredible person all-around. I actually won the Anti-Racist Award this past year.
Chanelle: Oh, congrats!
Brandie: Thank you! And it was like a really great experience and a great honor I was representing Vine, which is Vine Sanctuary, it’s an intersectional organization in Springfield, Vermont and I worked with them for about a year. Bryant Terry, he actually doesn’t identify as being vegan for a lot of reasons, but he is a plant-based, not plant-based, he only eats plants. He doesn’t need any animal products and he’s a great resource on Twitter and he’s on Instagram. He post incredible pictures of his cooking. He started off as a food justice organizer and then transitioned into not eating animal products and he has many books out, Vegan Soul Food Cookbook…
Chanelle: Yeah, I know that one!
Brandie: Afro-Vegan just came out and I met him at Afropunk a couple years ago and he’s so sweet and nice and kind. And his wife is East Asian and I’m hoping that maybe sometime they could come together and make a cookbook. On like an East Asian/Afro-Fusion vegan cookbook. I think that would be amazing.
Chanelle: That would be beautiful. I mean I find that I’m cooking a lot more because I find community around food like doing potlucks and eating with people and it can be hard when I can’t eat any of the stuff that folks I’m in community with are eating, so a lot of what I’m doing now is inviting people to eat with me and bringing a couple of ingredients I might need and doing an entirely vegan dinner and everyone’s surprised I’m vegan.
Brandie: Yeah, I think that’s a great way, that’s actually my favorite way to introduce people to veganism. I feel like eating and talking and not jumping down people’s throats, for me, personally is the most I feel like that’s the most fulfilling way to spread the love of vegan community. When I’m on Twitter, a lot of people actually message me separately, in my DMs and they say, “I’ve never met a vegan that isn’t super judgmental!” I’m not trying to be a humblebrag here.
Chanelle: But… [laughs]
Brandie: Yeah, personally I just feel like, I don’t know, I want people to
be vegan but I want to be more compassionate and loving and nurturing rather than just being like “what you’re doing is wrong” because I personally you know I love all my omni friends. I love them so much and that’s it. I love them. I’m not going to say like I’d love them or you know I love them or I’d love them more if they did this. I really just feel like being compassionate and caring and showing people that vegan food is good. Even if two or three times a week, if they’re eating vegan meals that does cut down on animal suffering and animal exploitation. A lot of people ask me questions, “how can I change my diet vegetarian or vegan”? I’ll say you know you know tweet me if you have any questions. I’ll give them a bunch of resources that I have. I just moved into a new place and there’s a big there’s a big kitchen, so I’m planning on maybe doing a few Periscope videos or some YouTube videos on how I like to cook cause I post a lot of pictures and everyone’s always like, “wow did you do that?” I’ll show you! I’ll show you the way!
Chanelle: Yeah! Make a Snapchat channel!
Chanelle: I’d follow that! [laughs] So what do you do if someone serves you food that you can’t eat? How do you how do you navigate also being compassionate with people when someone offers you something that is against your beliefs?
Brandie: So I always make sure people know that I’m vegan and when I go places I always bring my own food. I know but that might seem rude to people but I know some people who identify as vegan but if they go somewhere or they’ll travel they’ll eat non-vegan food. I personally don’t do that. It’s not that I don’t really agree with it, it’s just not what I personally would do, especially if it’s a family issue I know that that is very, especially for a lot of people of color, like food is culture and food is just very important and how dare you not accept grandma’s cooking? How rude of you! If people want to do that and that works for them I’m not gonna say that they’re not vegan, that’s not for me to say, but personally I don’t so I always make sure to let people know. Oh, I’m vegan and I’m perfectly fine eating in front of people who aren’t eating vegan food but I’ll always, especially if we’re going out to eat, I’ll always make sure that we go to a place where I have an option to eat and this might sound a little “loner” but if there aren’t many options I usually eat before and then I’ll eat something simple like fries or a lot of places nowadays will have a hummus plate and I’ll just kinda snack on it. I don’t, I don’t not go places unless it’s something really intense like a pig roast. I think that I would not be able to do something like that and I would set a boundary and be like thanks for the invite but I would not feel comfortable with that. But that’s never happened to me before.
Chanelle: Yeah, I’m definitely fine with people eating whatever they need to eat to sustain themselves but I always have some snacks with me wherever I go. I did this before I was even vegan, just had a bag of who knows what and also I have some bad vegan habits like Swedish Fish
Brandie: That’s not bad! That’s pleasure food! Pleasure food is good for you! [laughs]
Chanelle: And Oreos and whatnot.
Brandie: Yeah. I love the thin Oreos. Have you tried the new thin Oreos? Oh my God!
Chanelle: I hate the double stuffed ones, so I’m glad they made the thin ones too. The chocolate’s the best part.
Chanelle: With some peanut butter.
Brandie: Yeah! [laughs]
Chanelle: It was so good having you! It was so good having you on the podcast and I’m so happy to meet you!
Brandie: Thank you so much! Can you let everyone know that my twitter name is @feministfists?
Chanelle: Yes we can!
Princess Harmony: Hey, this is Princess Harmony, the Assistant Editor at BGD and the producer of the Black Girl Dangerous podcast. Today I’m here with Jack Qu’emi who is an amazing Afrolatin nonbinary femme, they do all sorts of marvelous writing and speaking. Plus their aesthetic is amazing. I hope you enjoy the interview!
Princess Harmony: Recently your piece was published on BGD about Jaden Smith and his appearance in Louis Vuitton’s newest womenswear campaign and the two different reactions it got. For those that don’t know, The Independent published two different pieces. One applauding his appearance and the other claiming that he was co-opting transgender territory. So with both Jaden Smith’s appearance in the Louis Vuitton campaign and the recent attention surrounding the story of Tracy Africa Norman, the first black trans woman to be a supermodel who was outed at an Essence magazine shoot both clicked to me and seemed to show that gender variance of some kind, whether in identity or in appearance, is becoming more accepted. In your opinion has this acceptance come to benefit nonbinary people?
Jack: I don’t know, it depends on how you think about the benefits. Is it gonna make it a little bit more normative? Is it like the consistent exposure to presentations that are less than traditional, does that make you just existing easier? Yes. Does that make people understand being nonbinary? Not necessarily. I think that’s a whole other conversation in a lot of ways, since presentation doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with somebody’s Gender. Like, for example, I’m a person who doesn’t identify with any gender. With a lack of gender, that it. I’m specifically unspecific and there’s no way that I can dress or present myself or talk that’s gonna, when I walk into a room that’s going to make somebody go, “That’s a they/them! That’s one of them non-binary people.” It’s really difficult to get clocked like that, there’s really no there’s no precedent for that. So, yeah, I think it I think it allows for a little bit more fluid Indiana makes people more comfortable with that kind of fluidity but I don’t think it necessarily reflects on people’s understanding of nonbinary genders or just anything that normative when it comes to gender.
Princess Harmony: Where do you see yourself, and nonbinary people as a whole, in this so-called transgender tipping point that’s taking place?
Jack: [laughs] We’re involved? We’re being acknowledged at all? I didn’t realize. [laughs] No shade but kinda shade. A little bit of shade. Like a branch of shade. I don’t know. The transgender tipping point isn’t really about non-binary people. People don’t even- mainstream media doesn’t even seem to understand that that’s a thing, that that’s an option. You don’t have to pick man or woman. You can be trans, totally, and switch from man to woman or woman to man, the way that really normative people like to call it. “You could turn into one or the other from the other!”, which isn’t exactly accurate, but you know. Uh, but to do anything other than that, to be anything other than a man or a woman, that’s “wha…?”. People are always very confused by that. I remember when I first found out that that was an option, that I didn’t have to choose, that was beyond me. Oh, of course! That seems so obvious now! But, no. The transgender tipping point, while I do love seeing trans women of color like Laverne Cox being on that Time Magazine cover and Janet Mock…I’m so in love with them in their work and they are definitely getting the visibility they deserve but I don’t think, I don’t think, nonbinary people are a conversation yet. Yet.
Princess Harmony: Binary or not, as evidenced by that very, very unaware piece, we as trans people are not unlike our cis peers in that we absorb and uncritically, really, swallow gender norms and decide on messages around them and as part of becoming whole people we have to unlearn them and until we do we end up harming nonbinary people and ourselves. In your journey as a nonbinary femme of color, what has that topic of unlearning been like, in what form did that take shape for you?
Jack: I’ve always had a kind of gender non-conforming impression of myself, and I definitely… You know, in in the ways in which somebody who’s like 14 can express, “Hey, I’m I’m not a girl, I’m not a boy”. This, but like still using pronouns that people will put on me, like they’ll assume by my presentation, that’s a girl so they’ll assume she and that was fine with me for a while, and then I got into college and I got a Tumblr. Weirdly enough. [laughs] Tumblr totally- Just being able to read experiences from individuals who are living, you know, are living the things in which are taught in academia. You know, that’s everyday life. Just reading personal lived experiences from people can teach you so so so much. I learn more from that, reading that, and was able to understand myself more through that than academia. Academia did other things for me, of course, but it was-, it didn’t help my own journey in the way that something like Tumblr did. So I, at first, was very intentional about wanting people to use the three main, in my mind, three main pronouns; use he, she, and they for me but I think that was a lot to ask people. [laughs] In the sense that I was thinking revolve them as you’re speaking to me or about me, within the conversation keep flipping them around. But what people would do is, cause I’ve always had a feminine presentation and very feminine gestures and the way I speak is very feminine so people would kinda pick she/her and stick to it because it was easiest for them because they went by how I was presenting. And I mean, come on! That’s such a cop out! You’re not even trying at that point! And it was really disappointing because I could tell that people just, people nod their head because they would ask me my pronouns in spaces. You know, “Oh hi, what’s your name? What are your pronouns? OK”. But they would hear it but it will just go in one ear and fall out the other. They weren’t being intentional about respecting what I actually wanted and so I figured maybe that was just a lot to ask of people at the time. I have since met people who do revolve pronouns like that and I met somebody Dissociative Identity Disorder whose different personalities, err not personalities, their different…I forgot the word for it but different individuals that were identities in them all had their own pronouns, their own separate pronouns. Or that when they use they/them as their default, they literally meant they/them because they were multiple identities. I mean, I guess now I can see that not being such a tall order. But anyway, I ended up not so much settling but I decided that they/them would be more accurate in the sense that I didn’t feel committed to any particular community. I didn’t feel like I was being respectful to any particular community by saying I was a part of it and not feeling 100% in it, just drenching myself and engulfing myself in that community and since then I’ve only gotten vaguer. I’ve only gotten vaguer because I meet a lot of people who identify as genderqueer people. For some reason, I meet a lot of white queers that identify as genderqueer and while that is a title that may work wonderfully for them that just never felt- like giving myself a gender like, third gender neutrois or just any of that it’s just, ehh. I did agender for a while, I used that one for a while, and I guess it is more of a signifier. And I guess it is a bit more specific about the fact that I don’t have a gender but nonbinary is vague enough that I feel comfortable with it. Or just queer as a gender identity and a sexual orientation. Jack’s a queer queer who uses they/them and likes to confuse people! [laughs]
Princess Harmony: Vague is good! I like vague. [laughs]
Jack: Thank you! I appreciate that. I think it’s pretty.
Princess Harmony: So do I.
Jack: But yeah, my journey wasn’t so much- my presentation wasn’t so much like connected to my gender. I think my gender just kind of was the way that it was and it took a while for me to kind of understand that the way in which I was comfortable presenting was also ok. You know, it’s okay to be somebody who doesn’t have a gender and still want to participate in things that to other people are considered gendered. So make up. I look good in it too! Why are we gonna try to…? I’m doing the world a service here with these looks that I’m serving! Why would I do anything to sabotage that? Just this glittery goodness that is my presentation! I definitely had to take some time to kind of see, like okay, so how does somebody without a gender present? How does that work? And then I realized that’s really not actually- there’s no way to do that. Regardless of how I tried, I was not like that tall kind of androgynous in that- androgyny in the definition that we see. It’s like, it’s this white queer with a short haircut and they’re thin and they’re able-bodied and they wear bow ties. Like that’s not that’s not going to do it because I did want to wear a bowtie but I also wanted to put on lipstick and I wanted to do my eyebrows and I wanted to, like, douse myself in glitter and I’m you know, I’m very- my wrists might as well be broken because they’re always flapping around. This is just who I am! [laughs] I’m not gonna deny myself my fabulousness because I realize that a lot of my feelings about gender, about my own gender especially being like the brown nonbinary queer, femme nonbinary queer, the insecurities are coming from how other people, how I think other people are viewing me, they’re not coming from me. Other people’s perception, that’s what bothers me. The way people see me, not so much the way I am. The inside’s good. The inside’s great too! [laughs]
Princess Harmony:  was a very heavy year in terms of both transgender advances, in terms of like some places with laws and famous people coming out and stuff. It also had the record known number of trans people dying, including 2 nonbinary identified people who are often misgendered as trans women and then misgendered as men.
Princess Harmony: That had me thinking about lifespans and of course when you think, when we as a community talk about lifespans, we usually think of transfeminine people of color, specifically Black or Latin. But on a whole, all Black or Latin people have lifespans that are drastically reduced so it’s important for us to have and listen to our “elders” that can talk about their, or our journeys and learn from them and I have a feeling that we are very close in age, and very young at that and what would you tell people younger than you? How would you describe the journey to start to like younger you, basically?
Jack: “There are no rules.” I think that it is probably the best summation of my experiences. There are no rules. You know, there are definitions for things and you’re not alone in that sense, you know, there are people who change identities or choose a new name and then they change it to a different chosen name, to a different chosen name, to a different chosen name. You don’t have to make up your mind in one go. I mean if you want, if you want to take your time and be very intentional about the way in which you change your name or an identity and you wanna take time to think about it and change it once and that’s it, then that’s on you, A+, go you! But if you change your mind a thousand times, that’s normal. You know, that’s not the “wrong way” to be queer. That’s not the “wrong way” to be trans. You know, you can be a binary trans person. You can be a binary trans man who likes glitter and makeup. And you could be in the middle of your transition and still like makeup and glitter and dresses and it doesn’t change who you are. And I think that’s why seeing Jaden Smith in a skirt and seeing that kind of policing of what trans space is, it’s like ok well maybe for you! Maybe for that author in particular. Maybe that’s what trans territory means for her and that’s fine but it didn’t it didn’t create space anybody else. It completely erased anybody who wasn’t a man or a woman, anybody nonbinary, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, genderqueer like you’re not real or something. Believe it or not, it’s possible to exist in a space in which you just don’t feel comfortable being one or the other a hundred percent of the time, or at all. In my case, at all. And I think growing up being somebody who, I used to say, I used to tell people you know, “If I would have been able to choose my gender growing up, I would have chosen this! I would have chosen that!” Or I would tell people, “No, no, no. I’m not a boy or a girl.” That, coming out of me in middle school and it wasn’t until college that I had language for these feelings. I’m just I was just really, really thankful that I had access to communities online that helped me. You know, reading other people’s experiences and journeys and seeing trans people, other trans people, before I even knew that I wasn’t, you know, cis. Experiencing their lives through their blogs and talking about, “hey this is what I’m going through and it sucks and this is difficult, but this part is amazing and I feel so great about all this stuff going on!” You know, being able to see that and going, that’s how I feel! Oh that’s allowed, oh yeah that’s acceptable! I don’t know why I ever thought that in order to be trans I had to choose or to be cis I had to choose. Like, it never occurred to me that not having a gender was an option. It’s always like, some kind of gender. “You have to have some kind of gender!” I would probably go back and tell myself that you really don’t have to make any of those decisions. Like, you can be very specifically unspecific and that will work for you and that’s ok.
Chanelle: Hey, it’s Chanelle again! That’s it for this episode of the BGD podcast! Thanks again to @feministfists, Jack, and Harmony. Be sure to tune in next time, you won’t wanna miss it! Thanks again for listening!
Chanelle: The Black Girl Dangerous Podcast is a production of Black Girl Dangerous Media.