Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Words of wisdom from the beautiful Ymania Brown-Gabriel

No one else could have said it better, thank you for sharing your mana Ymania,
Yeah, about The Great Pretenders..... When Rachel Dolezal's news came out, I felt that old warm blanket feeling of being discovered as something you're not.
Like when a boyfriend realises you're not a girl. Or a guy you've been dating suddenly finds out you're post operative transgender.
 You know, like how irrespective of the race issue, she was just a great pretender, and for me, how, irrespective of my marker, I am still a faafafine. Pretending to be something you're not, is, from an "outsider's perspective", also what being transgender is.

Gladly the tide is turning and there is a lot more tolerance now that when my mother recognised my special characteristics when I was 5 years old - ask any of my friends that knew me then, I was a faafafine from Primer 1 all the way through to like, well now really! That Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and all those faafafines living their truths now in the public eye have come out, I am proud of them for realising their realities and doing it now.

Back when I was living my truth, you could not get a job dressed as a woman, you could not go out in public spaces, your boyfriends never held your hand in public, and the only time you felt safe when going out was when you were with cousins bigger than you (yeah right, go heckle a Samoan faafafine surrounded by her cousins aka the Samoan B Rugby Team - bring it baj!)

The NZ Department of Social Welfare in Wellington (my first government employment in NZ) requested to change the regulations for the use of female toilets so I can use them. Noel, a born and bred Catholic manager who believed in the sacrosanct of 2 genders had to do it because I was turning up to work in dresses and using the men's toilet.

I came to Australia and had gender reassignment surgery at 22yo and have basically been pretending to be a woman for, well, over half my adult life.
Thats a lot of pretending. But then I realised that we are all in the same boat. Dolezal's blackness, my womanness, your perfect social life, your squeeky clean go to church every Sunday image whilst you private message me with hotel details, I mean we're all pretending to be something we're not right?

Yep Rachel passed herself off as black and people are hurt by the deception but she did great work to help the community to get to where she is.

Transgender citizens such as myself struggle with identity and live our truths our way and despite the biblical condemnation, the attacks, the murders, the public and private put downs, the physical harm we put ourselves in (and sadly some of us do not survive) we still stay true to living our truth.

The only similarity between Rachel's race truth and my transgender truth is this:Rachel left a privileged white background to live a truth as a black woman. I left the privileged dominant assigned male by birth background to live my truth as a woman (sadly most of society still thinks being male is dominant, the poor creatures).
 In doing so, I found my way, I found that being a woman is not just about genitalia assigned at birth, but about the experiences you have along the way.

Rachel if you are reading this, keep true to your truth and your race. Race whilst hereditary can be changed - communities of colour have accepted white citizens to live amongst them, but it's by invitation not deception. Work back that trust for the rest of your black days woman. Get to it.

Gender, whilst biological (at least in as far as the binary markers are the current norm but the tide is changing), can be changed. God the struggle has been real and continues to be to this day and woman, black you present, black you is.
Woman I present, then woman I is, unless of course if you are with my Laus who will gladly snap me back into my plastic box.

The End.
P.S.  No perfect pretenders living in the glasshouse that is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter were harmed in the writing of this update.

Ymania, posing with a housegirl at Sofitel Fiji


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