Trans Women of Color | Teen Ink

Trans Women of Color

June 3, 2017
By victoria_kapusta PLATINUM, Ridgewood, New York
victoria_kapusta PLATINUM, Ridgewood, New York
20 articles 0 photos 7 comments

As someone who didn’t have to grow up being trans, there was no violence, rejection or even early death based on my gender. Yet for trans, they had to redefine the idea of happiness and let go of the pain held on by society. But over time, these struggles are healed from acceptance and finding the right community that will be there to support. People are not used to change, and when the norms seem to fall apart we are shocked to see that the traditional white man and white woman get married isn’t going to last on this planet forever.  By even shifting from a trans woman to a trans woman of color, we are risking the lives of minorities because it affects society’s reputation. So, by rising above discrimination and oppression they may also someday feel free, which only the wealthy and privileged get. Writer Kai Cheng Thom teaches us that trans women will someday pursue happiness once they leave the rejections and loving other trans women that have gone as far as them through ethos, logos and occasion.

Thom starts with the rhetorical choice of ethos by informing the reader that she is credible because she is not alone and that there is a massive community of trans woman out there setting their dreams and ambitions high no matter the prejudice comments. Thom provides the reader with her care saying that there is, “a community of beautiful women just like you” (para. 21) and that “among your trans sisters, you are not the only one” (para. 22). By making sure that there is authority and a strong voice in this text, trans woman of color are able to lose this isolation and gain happiness once they don’t stay within an area that spread negativity but an area of trans woman sisterhood that are on their way to feeling human  and entering gender euphoria (state of joy in one’s being). She lets the reader know that she too had tried to win the approval of others but fail due to them telling her that she is a failed man or that someone only loves you due to your differences. But those difference is what makes a person unique as well as brave because courage comes a long way in a place that has more non-trans than trans. But, when she finally found these trans-woman, it felt that their group was larger and way more dominated than any other group of non-trans people because they all share understanding. This is seen when she describes the type of trans woman she met in her life, “I know trans women who are models, actresses, activists” (para. 22) and that “It was a trans woman who gave me my first dress” (para. 23). She make sures to tell the reader that you first need to find trans-woman like you so can share those similarities and then head out to find someone non-trans while making sure that someone who loves you is still right behind you even at the time of rejection. Through this she makes it clear that trans woman of color are not supposed to be pitied because they are fierce warriors helps other trans woman survive, this contributes to the purpose of accepting rejection and finding trans woman for the sake of your own happiness.

Next, Thom uses the rhetorical choice of logos to motivate the reader with her personal experience, and the causes/effects of trying to maintain living which is difficult when there are people pressuring you to stop going through this “phase”. These transitions for trans women of color and the article itself complement the achievement that has been done to feel safe and validated. She ensures the reader by saying, “My life is full of incredible women, complicated women, ferocious women, tender women, all of us transgender and crackling with life” (para. 25) By stating that trans women have multiple personalities and are persistent on moving on, it helps break down those stereotypical borders of what a transgender is like. Even for herself, she bases her logic that no one can easily enter this gender euphoria because it has to be fought for first before you discover your talents that your supportive trans sisters will reveal. That is seen clearly for her relationships with trans women, they are all not exactly similar because that would be plain boring, but no matter if they are kind or not, they will make sure to protect each other in a time of need. Thom still manages to add different and more unique approaches to logos like cause & effect to provoke the reader into knowing that although trans women have gone along way, they still do not have complete freedom and should still be fighting with her reasoning as to why. Thom first explains her cause, “When people like you are being murdered all the time, when gendered and racialized laws are made” (para. 31) In this case, she is combining the struggles of being trans as well as being a trans women of color, who is not allowed to express herself do to a certain mindset specifically in the south of America and dictating countries that will do anything to stop them. Then, Thom moves on to her effect saying, “We are forced to redefine happiness as loving ourselves on our own terms” (para. 32). This crafts the idea that they have no choice but to remind themselves of their own satisfaction in feeling that you belong in your own body and feel proud for how long you have survived all the struggles of being a trans woman of color. By using this she also connects to the rhetorical choice of ethos where she is credible since other women have faced the lack of happiness as trans but slowly transformed over time with the idea of acceptance. This corresponds to the purpose of finding inner happiness based on the logic of the relationships created in your life and the mass amount of hate that encourages trans women of color to keep fighting until they get the rights that they deserve.

The last rhetorical choice Thom appeals to is occassion or the external motivation she had to write this essay. She has taken her stance since day 1 that she will stand up in what she believes in ever since she was a kid, although her family put her to shame because other groups of people would judge her parents as if they failed to raise her right. One significant occasion that sparked her was when she went to Times Square with her friend, Kama at an organization that supports LGBTQ people of color. But, at that moment she finally felt complete and one, because she was like any other women in the crowd which, “unusual for us, we are used to standing out. To be pointed at, laughed at, cursed at...about how just a few years ago, I never thought I would be here”(para. 4). At this point, it was end of her climax and deep emotional moments since she finally let go of the burden that held her back for being herself, with this motivation she wanted to not only inform, but teach the reader that as a trans woman, it seemed impossible that she would ever reach this level of happiness in her life from such a disapproving society, until she realized that it was the community of her own that made her feel the best. Another part of her external motivation not only came from this moment, but the realization through time that she is a trans woman of color, not kind of or just a little and that she should not be trying to look non-trans to satisfy others. This is seen when Thom first states her ideal way of escaping oppression, “If I could finish university, get a high-paying middle-class job, medically alter my body to look like a “normal” woman’s, and find myself a nice white boyfriend, then I could be happy” (para. 16). She even understands as to why she had a mindset like that, the media portrayed them as pitiful, ridiculous and unattractive. By knowing that she will never try to have an unrealistic lifestyle like that, she is pushed to write that you never know what tomorrow will bring, so it is important to find these outcasts because strength comes in numbers, and it will no longer feel that a trans woman is going to die all alone. That can relate to logos where it is common sense that standards like these are not possible because reality is not shaped so perfectly. In the end, Thom achieves her point in purpose with occassion through realizations and moments that hit her inner core is filled with happiness that is enough for her to keep living and having no regrets in an ongoing battle that has an army full of trans women just like her that have been rejected before in their lives.

From the use of ethos, logos and occasion, Thom is able to examine all the parts that contribute to the life of a trans woman of color. She manages to show that we all have a different “happily ever after” and for her, it is just to be emotionally stable so that she will feel permanent security in where she resides. That helps with her purpose of understanding rejection because we can’t always look at the majority since that will never get you satisfied but the community out there that loves someone regardless if they are trans of not. Until Thom reached that happiness, she finally feels that being different is way better than being just like the rest. She contributes that to propose the idea that you will always be fighting to feel comfortable in your own body, but at least you will never be fighting alone. So, people have to grasp onto the present so that the future will come with people more eager and accepting of trans women of color that are finally treated like civilians instead of a tossed around toy.

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