My Gender is Black

A Speech from the 2017 Montreal Trans March

My name is Lucas Charlie Rose, I am a Black trans migrant, founder of Trans Trenderz and organizer with Black Lives Matter – Montreal. And I wish I could tell you what my gender is, but lately I’ve been feeling like I don’t really have any control over that.

Most of the time, if you ask me what I identify as I will reply that I am a man because it’s easier than telling people who I really am. Because whenever I am true to myself, whenever I tell people that no, I am not a man, I am a non-binary femme trans boi they look at me as if I had just announced that I’m voting for Trump.

If I tell you that I am not a man, that I am a non-binary femme trans boi there is a very high chance that even though your mouth will stay closed, even though you will nod as if you were agreeing, your eyes will be yelling “How dare you?” because even though my transition has made me comfortable with my own femininity, in people’s eyes, it’s the opposite. The day I chose to start hormones is the day I officially retired from femininity. Testosterone wiped away all memories of me being a little girl, the trauma linked to experiencing countless of violent attacks targeted at women and I replaced it all with ‘male privilege’.

I saw myself being refused entry into spaces targeted for people who identify on the feminine spectrum while cis gay men wearing nail polish were celebrated and I started feeling like people were right, I didn’t have the right to identify as anything other than male now. I felt like identifying as a non-binary person, identifying with the word femme was just me being an impostor. My own community had me feeling like I was pretending to not be a man in order to gain access to these spaces who made me feel so comfortable.

My gender is not male. My gender is not ‘non-binary femme trans boi’. My gender is Black.

And then I realized something: no matter what people say my gender is not male. My gender is not ‘non-binary femme trans boi’. My gender is Black.

When white people look at me they see violence. They see aggressivity. They see hypermasculinity. They see whatever that cop saw that made him shoot Tamir Rice.

When white people look at me they don’t see my vulnerabilities, my sensitivities, my gentleness, my innocence. They don’t see somebody who has dedicated their life to our liberation and is constantly experiencing burnout as a result. They see a monster. A demon. A threat. Somebody who is only capable of inflicting harm.

Before you start thinking that this statement isn’t about you, I would like to tell you a story: Ky Peterson is a Black trans man from rural Georgia who was arrested for defending himself during a transphobic sexual assault. After a year in jail with no legal support or trial, he was forced to take a plea deal. That was 5 years ago and he still has 15 to go. The reason why many folks here haven’t heard Ky’s name before isn’t because it hasn’t been spoken. The reason why Chelsea Manning’s picture is on the flyer of this march and not Ky’s is not because his photo hasn’t been shared. The reason why this is the first time you might be hearing about him is because Ky Peterson is a Black trans man.

While it is true that trans women are being killed at a much higher rate than trans men, the rate of incarceration of AFAB  Black trans people is outrageous. According to Ky himself, over 10% of the population in his prison does not identify as female and every single one of these individuals have been assaulted either pre-arrest or while incarcerated. When we talk about the violence against Black trans people it is important to remember that the type of men who murder trans women because they feel like their sexuality is threatened are the same type of men who assault trans masculine folks in an attempt to ‘fix them’.

The same way that for white people my gender will be always be Black, for Black cis men, my gender will be always be queer. It is time for non-Black trans people to stop acting like Black trans masculinity is safe.

Stop acting like Black trans masculinity is destructive. Stop acting like Black trans men aren’t capable of being vulnerable, of hurting, of needing help. Stop acting like Black trans masculinity is even remotely comparable to white masculinity, and please, for the love of God, please stop acting like being trans strips white women of their power to oppress Black men.

I want to finish this speech by talking to my brothers directly. I know that the queer community in Montreal feels like it wasn’t made for you. I know that you would rather hide parts of yourself rather than see your identity invalidated by people who claim to be fighting for your liberation. I know that it can be scary, to reach out and ask for help because as a Black man you are told that you should be able to deal with it on your own. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. Whether you identify as a man, a non-binary person, as a femme:

I am here to celebrate the way you embody and continue to redefine masculinity everyday.

I am here to celebrate all of your accomplishments even when the world ignores them.

I am here to show you love when all your words are met with hate.

I am here to show you patience when nobody wants to give you the time of day.

I am here to tell you that you are allowed to be vulnerable, you are allowed to cry, you are allowed to be hurting and you are also more than allowed to ask for help.

You are allowed to take a break from trying to save the world and let the world save you.

And before I stop talking, I wanted to leave you with a quote by my friend Shaan Michael Wade: “If you want to be in solidarity with women and femmes, remember that all women are not femmes and all femmes are not women. Think before you speak, lest your lip-service be revealed.

Signed, A Queer Femme Former Girl Non-Woman.”

  • Lucas Charlie Rose, best known for his career as a rapper and music producer, is a multidisciplinary hip hop artist, community organizer and entrepreneur based in Montreal, Canada. Only 26 years old, Lucas is already considered a leader in the Black trans community worldwide. After making history by producing the world’s first ever trans hip-hop mixtape, a project that was entirely produced, written by and featuring trans people, Lucas founded non-profit record label, Trans Trenderz, to provide trans artists with the resources they need to make music and uplift their narratives. The end goal is trans artists on stage at the Grammys. Lucas is also known around Montreal for his community work. His involvement with Black Lives Matter Montreal, the workshops he frequently facilitates and his constant advocacy work have allowed Lucas to make connections beyond the music world. Inspired by other musical activists like Rihanna, Lucas strongly believes that music, more specifically hip hop, can change the world.

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