By Christian Axavier Lovehall
For me, beginning my medical transition meant living a life where physically I would be seen as my true self… as a man named Christian. This is what is known as “passing,” or a trans* person’s ability to be regarded as a member of the gender with which they physically present and the gender of which they identify. I remember when this very thing started to happen to me. The ‘she’s’ were replaced by ‘he’s’ and a sense of peace and joy began to settle inside of me.
I’d smile inside with excitement, for I was finally being seen! But soon I began to learn that being seen as the man I am, had deeper and more serious social consequences. For not only was I being seen as a man, but a black man.
I suddenly found myself marked as ‘Public Enemy #1.’ Now, discrimination is definitely not anything new to me. Many of us in the LGBTQ community can attest to that. But this time there was something else, something bigger behind the hints of utter disgust that flashed across people’s faces. (As I look back, I believe that this “something” was fear due to ignorance.) White women began clutching their purses and bags if I happened to walk behind them in public, sometimes even crossing the street. Store owners began eyeing my movements even more intensely when I shopped. Taxi’s refused to pick me up at certain hours of the night. Police officers followed and harassed me when out and about. All this slowly became my norm.
My first response to these experiences was intense anger and frustration. I was angry because I was being judged by the color of my skin, now combined with my gender. This anger thus deepened my consciousness and understanding of racial relations and tensions in America.
It all caused me to re-visit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, in which he dreamt a better day for his four children, where they would ‘be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.’ Whether it’s one’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., it saddens me that even to this day, that dream has not become reality for many. And it saddens me even more that such racist ideals are being taught and passed on to the children, who continue our legacy. Why should equal opportunity ever be any person’s dream?
It’s said that the first step to fixing a problem is to admit to having that problem. In this context, that means that racist people have to admit that they are racist before any true resolution can exist. And through the the constant rememberance of my ancestors, I have learned to no longer claim to being a victim to the lashings of racism, but rather a survivor. Being black is in fact beautiful. And so is being white, yellow, green, purple, orange, and blue. I come from a community of rainbows, and admittedly have that upbringing to thank for my ability to see and appreciate the beauty of all people. Our differences should not be feared or hated, but rather celebrated.
Although my anger and frustration remains a constant struggle, the hatred of others has become my motivation to love even stronger. I have embraced my right to be different and free, as well as the right of others to do the same… and that is my revolution. Please… Join Me!