by Pippa Fleming
I’ve been holding silence for quite some time but now it’s time for me to speak.
When a Black child presents with signs of internalized racism, we want to protect them. We want them to know they are perfect as they are and loved for exactly who they are. If we are conscience Black folks, we try to infuse our young people with the knowledge, skills, wisdom and support necessary, so they may survive and thrive in this racist society.
If little Lakesha comes home with “mommy I hate being Black and I want to be white” we are shocked, dismayed and sadden by her self loathing and rush to find the source of her oppression. Is it school, the media, her peers, society or all of the above?
So why when little butch Lakesha comes home with “I hate my body and I want to be a boy” is she encouraged to take on male identity or the subject matter is avoided all together and she is left to flounder in a sea of gender conforming beliefs that lead to dysphoria and a life lived in the shadows?
From the moment a female child presents as butch she is loathed, feared and rendered invisible by her peers and elders alike. Why are we not outraged by butch oppression and willing to explore gender oppression like we look at race or class oppression? Why is it seen as status quo for young butch girls to hate their bodies the goddess blessed them with? Why are we ushering our baby butches towards male identity rather than exploring the causes of this type of self hatred?
We are quick to say that a Black person is suffering internally if they want to bleach their skin white or have plastic surgery to look more european… but if a child wants to cut their breasts off and get rid of their vagina this is acceptable! In turn, if I question this as a butch female, I am seen as transphobic.
I am a gender non conforming female butch, who uses the men’s bathroom, is perceived as a man everyday I walk out my door and rendered invisible by society. Instead of expanding the boundaries of female identity to include all of it’s nuances, we have fallen desperate prey to that 1% we claim to despise!
To be Black, female and butch is to be a warrior, let us pray that more of us have the courage to love ourselves wholly and be outspoken mentors to young butches struggling not to conform to the impossible.
And ain’t I a woman!
[Writer, director, choreographer, DJ and vocalist Pippa Fleming originally posted this powerful essay on her Facebook, and I am absolutely thrilled that she has agreed for me to re-post it here on GenderTrender. Thanks Pippa. -GM]