Picture this: Friday night cocktails in late-February with my sister. The weather is fierce, but not too frigid. And I'm just trying to get a Cosmo. After one of two (or three or four) glasses, my eyes began roaming. While observing, women twirling their hairs and seductively sipping their cocktails, I frequently became recipient of their cold stares. And I wasn't the only one; my girlfriend, who is a little more comfortable with public gazing, also took note. Was my nose running? A spill on my gown? I turned to my friend for guidance and, she quipped, it's because I have something extra down the belt. Despite a graduate degree and a taste for strong drinks, as a trans woman of color I am often relegated to one of three archetypes: the sassy, black girlfriend; the queer friend to be doted on, affectionately known as the 'gay' best friend (GBF); or the sexualized being with a few kinks. It's the last which brings a lot of derision from cisgender women. Will I go out my way to snatch your gentleman? Will I bat an eye towards your date when if he looks my way? Will I take your husband into the bathroom, expecting him to... appreciate my worth? No. No. And only if he's paying! Just kidding. All I want to do on a Friday – or any other day which ends in 'y' - is enjoy a cocktail at the end of the day.

Ladies, trans women are not the enemy. No doubt, there are some who wish to be the ‘other woman’. But for many – yes, I'm willing to speak for the masses – we only desire to be respected for who we are and how we live. And, yes, at times, we desire to take a bite of that sweet, delectable apple. What red-blooded American woman doesn't appreciate a fine-crafted man in a tailored suit? But even when it looks ripe for the picking, we do know the pains of biting into a rotten apple. Apologize in advance if the root of that tree is yours.

My cisgender sisters (may I call you sisters?), all trans women want is to be appreciated. To show up to a party and feel like a princess. To be admired and adored. Every woman – cis or otherwise – understands that. So when a trans sister enter a room, don’t deride. Value the risk she takes to compose and present herself in a public space – one that isn't always the safest. Socialize with her, get to know her, and understand the life and love she shows to the world. Don't try to dim her light. Don't wish her the worst. She simply wants to celebrate the achievements she has accomplished, and tell the world the accomplishments she desires to achieve.

She doesn't want to be your enemy – but she is wanting a friend & ally.

XOXO,

Ortensia

 

Originally printed in March, 2017 issue of Rochester Woman Magazine Online