#GirlsLikeUs is the new, the next, the NOW for Trans* Empowerment!
Thanks to the lovely Janet Mock for opening the doors for the #GirlsLikeUs movement to flourish.
Here is an excerpt post from janetmock.com for all my WHT who are not involved with twitter:
“A few months ago, I participated in a focus group at the Hetrick-Martin Institute with eight other trans women. We gathered to offer insight into resources available for young trans women, and more importantly what we would have wanted (in resources, support, spaces) growing up to make our adolescence a bit easier. An amazing discussion was sparked among the women, the kind of intimate conversation that can only happen with people who have shared such a unique experience. We may have grown up in different times, with different resources, and different challenges, but we were all trans women who ultimately chose to live visibly and were looking for ways to make it better for girls who were coming of age behind us. The key takeaway didn’t happen in our adult group. It happened in a separate focus group, where younger trans women offered their perspectives on what they wanted, what was available for them and more importantly how they saw themselves. When I asked the facilitator how younger trans women identified, she said, “They don’t call themselves trans, transsexual or transgender.” Then how do they define themselves? “When I asked them who they were,” the facilitator said, “One girl simply stated: ‘We’re just girls…with something extra.’” And did they all agree to that? “Yes, some said they were ‘just girls’ – point blank,” she said, “And others agreed that the ‘something extra’ was necessary.” I found it exhilarating that these young women were naming themselves, that they were identifying how they wanted and that they exerted themselves in a world that rarely, if ever made room for them. I found myself uplifted by the “girls…with something extra” because it wasn’t coming from a place of want or lack. It didn’t fall prey to the tired, simplistic, limiting media sound bite of “girl trapped in boy’s body.” Instead it celebrated who we were as trans women: We have something extra. You can take that literally or figuratively, which is how I choose to read it: We are extra, we are more, we are special, we are everything. I grew up just like these girls: ballsy, sassy, so sure of where I was going and how I was getting there. No one could tell me otherwise. I was a girl, with something extra: extra going beyond my genitals; extra as in sass, extra as in a killer volleyball approach, extra as in the bounce of my curls, extra as in my refusal to be a victim just because people chose not to get me, extra in the sense that I had a dream and sacrificed a lot to ensure I made those dreams my reality. When I think of the girl I was growing up, I also think of my blind spots as well, and how I learned nearly everything I knew regarding hormones, dating, doctors, presentation, self-esteem, document changes, etc. from older women who grew up as a girl like myself. I grew up with women who knew the way—to acertain point. They could help me navigate the physical transition process, but they weren’t as keen on where to go from there. No one talked to me about life after my teenage transition because education usually wasn’t an integral part of the trans woman way where I grew up. Though they weren’t able to help me get to college, most did wish me well when I moved to New York. And these same women supported me when I told my story nearly a decade later. But when I came out, I was suddenly urged to identify myself: Are you transgender or transsexual? And frankly, I thought this to be one of the silliest things to be confronted with upon my sharing such a personal story with the world. As a young woman, I only used those terms a few times, mostly because I didn’t attach my sense of self to those political and medical terms. They didn’t sing to my inner sense of being, they were mere labels meant to organize me and put me in my place. So how did I identify? I was a girl automatically reared as a boy who rebelled against my family’s expectations to be the woman I knew myself to be. But I’m a writer and I know the power of words, so I’m not going to feign naivety to get out of this often contentious matter in our community. As soon as I came out I was labeled as transgender. Marie Claireproclaimed, “I was born a boy.” Transsexual activists argued that the LGBT establishment was misgendering me by calling me transgender. In the end, I embraced it all because none of them could easily define who I inherently am. But it wasn’t until I began speaking to other girls who grew up like I did in my post-coming out life during speaking engagements and fundraisers, on Twitter and Facebook, over coffees and dinner and on subways, that I began using phrases like, “You know how girls like us do.” “You know girls like us are doing big things.” “Girls like us know how to make it work, honey.” Girls like us rolled off my tongue. The root of girls like us started in private conversations with young women looking for role models, becoming role models, wanting to be heard and hoping to make a difference. ”
Writer, speaker and advocate amplifying the voices of #girlslikeus. My memoir Fish Food will be published by Atria Books in 2013.