Pride is a declaration
by Dafahlia Mosely
As a 20-year-old trans woman, I face misogyny on a daily basis. Too often, I experience a worldview that defines femininity as weak, vulnerable, and artificial. My own personal expression of femininity is seen by others as especially artificial. Add my status as an African-American and I am a walking target for society's judgments. I have felt the wind of these arrows passing me by.
Growing up as a queer boy, I considered myself a feminist. I understood girls' need for this affirmative recognition, especially from me as a male ally.
From a young age, I was a witness to the sexualization of female bodies. Girls at school were sent home with the reasoning that they were in "inappropriate attire for the classroom setting" under the school's "tip of the finger rule"; they were disturbing the learning process of the boys. Other girls were rockin' the same Forever 21 cutoffs and getting away with it.
At that time in my life, I identified as a male – unintentionally, yet subconsciously, reaping the benefits of male privilege. While the girls got judged by the adults, the oppression directed at me came from my peers – sexualization of my body and pure homophobia.
I pretty much always had a womanly figure since sophomore year of high school, placing me closer to the female side of the gender spectrum. My bottoms were often leggings or those same Forever 21 cutoffs. However, when my peers bullied me, I never got sent home for distracting the boys. Nor did my aggravators, who were given a pass even after many warnings. My high school years went on as me being the innocent gay boy, my friends were the provocative Lolitas, and our antagonists were "just the boys being boys."
As I reflect back on my life as my younger self, I can now honor my determination. I am dedicated to shifting the toxic dynamics of gender and racial oppression that young people face on a daily basis. As a queer educator at LYRIC (short for Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center), I have discovered my personal power as well as the power of community. Through my studies at City College of San Francisco and my work at LYRIC, I see how power can demonstrate resilience and pride, dismantling the societal norms that have been constructed through oppression. As a black trans woman, I claim my power, I am resilient, I am proud.
Learning what it means to be unapologetically black has shaped my appreciation for who I am as a whole. I strive to be unapologetically me, in all identities.
Each of us embracing who we are and loving ourselves for who we are will allow us to embrace and celebrate our differences. In turn, we will not be so fearful or angry or insensitive to differences in others. And when we truly see one another – our similarities and our differences – appreciation will be reciprocated throughout all communities, we will embody a sense of pride.
Dafahlia Mosely is a queer educator at LYRIC, which was named best LGBT nonprofit by Bay Area Reporter readers in this year's Besties readers' poll. For more information on the organization, visit http://www.lyric.org.