Kuchenga On Fighting For Trans Visibility And Feminist Sisterhood
Kuchenga, London- based Zimbabwean Jamaican trans feminist is a writer, an agitator and an avid consumer of all culture high and low whose work sparkles with vivacity and originality. she writes on her journey towards finding solidarity and unity with other women. Below she has explained her own experience…
I used to sleep with married men to boost my ego. Fighting to be seen as a woman, in the day to day life, drained my spirit. Colluding with husbands in their betrayal temporarily cauterized the wounds inflicted by those who sneered, whispered or willfully ignored me. In my mind, if people denied that I was a girl, then I could deny that there was such a thing as a ‘girl code’. The trauma that led to this isolation from other women started in school. That blissful period in nursery and primary school, when I was allowed to play with the girls and wear girls’ clothes, as I wanted, ended abruptly when we moved into Year 3. Teachers would glare coldly, and I would be ejected from games of hopscotch and skipping because everyone said: “YOU’RE NOT A GIRL!”. Smarting with anger, I retreated into teen romance stories: The Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. I was never successful in pretending I could be a proper man. I tried and failed, repeatedly. The literature of women furnished an imagination where I could live as a woman internally.
It was vivid enough, but I knew myself to be drowning, compounded by an active alcohol and drug addiction that almost killed me. Seminal black feminist works by Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and bell hooks ensured I survived. On the shores of sobriety, I found Janet Mock waiting for me, promising a new life of healing where I too could join in on a sacred mission of “Redefining Realness”.
In those wilderness years, where I could not give voice to my womanhood, my soul was a cauldron. My rage helped heat a consciousness, that I shared in the discrimination and oppression of the girls around me, and elsewhere. This past summer, someone at the Queer & Now event at Tate Britain asked me, “What can we do to support trans women escaping relationships of domestic violence?” I spluttered out words that could not form an answer and left solutions elusive. The anti-trans backlash that would have us continue to be excluded from under-funded sanctuaries is misguided. I stand with my sisters in the fight for abortion rights and bodily autonomy, against harassment and assault, and for a future of equity where we are given the opportunity to reach our full potential. So what if I don’t have a womb?! I will continue to fight for and love those who refuse to fight for and love me. My only hope is that, unlike so many of my trans ancestors who have been erased entirely, history will remember me, kindly, for doing so.