When I was coming to terms with my gender identity in 2012, my initial understanding of the transgender experience was rudimentary at best. At issue were the run-of-the-mill things like obtaining hormones, finding clothing that worked with my rapidly changing body and figuring out which name would suit me perfectly.
The idea of how my life would operate in the broader society was an elusive concept. Figures like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox were well on their way to mainstream success, but the media landscape wasn’t teeming with transgender fascination like it is currently, and piecing together a map for my future seemed nearly impossible. Initial support came a peppering of online articles, anecdotes and transition how-to guides, but they overwhelmingly focused on trans women who were considerably older and white.
As a young black trans girl, I found that most of the information that contained even a sliver of nuance were statistics. And from there I realized that the narrative for girls like us is often deeper and darker. I learned that as a transgender person of color, I am six times more likely to experience physical violence from the police than my white, cisgender queer counterparts. I learned that while 72 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicides occur to trans women, 67 percent fall on the shoulders of trans women of color. And in nearly every study from HIV infection rates to socio-economic marginalization, in general,trans women of color are disproportionately affected.