Need a pick-me-up or some spiritual nourishment? Written by transgender advocate and warrior woman Ja’briel Walthour, “Live Your Best Life” is ELIXHER’s inspirational column.
Transparency is an essential part of our existence and experience as LBTQ women of color. When we explore the complex intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, we are given a unique opportunity to educate others on issues which are vital to our success both personally and professionally. While this approach may spark a little anxiety and trepidation, being visible can also yield tangible results of bridging gaps and building coalitions with potential allies. Thus, our identities not only define who we are, but also determine our interactions with others. And for many of us, the journey to self-disclosure has been wrought with concern and fear.
One of my greatest hurdles to visibility was my own insecurities with self-imposed sanctions on my life. Truth be told, I became my own worst critic and an enemy of the state of my mind. Like other queer women of color, I was consumed with adhering to cultural norms and expectations of society. I had grown accustomed to fitting molds and playing it safe. And in an attempt to conceal my ever-blossoming femininity, I managed to co-exist with the perception I presented to the world.
During the early days of my transition, I was somewhat oblivious as to how I should openly proceed with my journey. Though it was freeing, there was still a bit of hesitation and also a legitimate fear of the unknown. Self-acceptance was truly a battle within itself. Furthermore, the decision to drop my androgynous façade and to live a life of authenticity took me to a whole new war zone. In that moment, I had to make a choice. Rather than cowering to past fears, I realized the importance of owning my identity and using my voice to help pave the way for sisters yet to come.
While advocating for a seat at the table of equality, I noticed a great need for LBTQ women of color to see images which they could identify with. This very need was even more personal and profound for transgender women who looked and identified like me. Because of limited visibility, we were forced to blaze paths and create our own destiny. With a course uncharted, we were tasked with a huge mandate. We must show the world how to love, honor and respect the entire spectrum of womanhood. And this same homage must first begin at home, amongst us.
When I think of all the courageous queer women of color, I am compelled to raise my voice a little louder. I am encouraged to fight the good fight of faith. And I am determined to inspire others to live their best life. As a result, we will gain visibility and access the platform necessary to move our community and country forward. We will also strengthen our resolve and send a message of hope to all.
– Ja’briel Walthour