Becoming a (Trans) Black Man
1 year ago
Young transgender black men are using social media to embrace their new identity
Jabari Miller* stands before a video camera in his home with his shirt off. He points out his new tattoos and growing muscular physique. Less than a year ago, his body was completely different. What stands before the lens is the result of months of hard work, hormone treatments and top-notch surgery. Miller, 23, is just one of the growing number of transgender (a term used to define those whose gender identity differs from their biological sex) men who have begun the physical transition to becoming a man. Transitioning isn't just about a physical change -- use of hormones therapy or surgery -- some men opt to handle their transformation via a name change or sex on legal documents. A quick search on YouTube for "FTM" (female to male), "Post-Opt T" or "Trans Male" will return dozens of videos of transgender men sharing their various experiences.
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Social media sites have provided a “community” for young transgender people. Among the small population that is finding its voice: black transgender men.
Within the black community, being gay or lesbian is still met with much resistance. Gender identity, which has nothing to do with one's sexual orientation is an issue largely ignored and as a result, misunderstood by the black community. Overlooked, the black trans community has succumbed to some startling statistics according to a recent study Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Injustice.
- 26% of Black transgender people are unemployed. That’s twice the rate of all transgender people and four time that of the national rate.
- 41% of black respondents said they had experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, more than five times the rate of the general U.S. population.
- Black transgender people lived in extreme poverty with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000 per year.
- HIV affects the black transgender community in devastating numbers.
Going Before the World
Jabari Miller, who declined to give his birth name, isn’t the first trans man to to undergo a physical change but unlike many before him, he decided to chronicle the steps of his journey on YouTube. Miller’s videos are more diary than anything. In the almost 20 videos posted on his channel, all show the 23-year-old—either wearing a tank-top or going shirtless— talking about his latest developments post hormones and breast removal surgery.
Last year, Miller, received some unwelcome attention when one of his YouTube clips was posted on the wildly popular hip-hop video site WorldStarHipHop. Unlike the supportive LGBT community YouTube, many commentors on WSHH attacked Miller. He contacted the site and asked them to take the video down but hadn’t heard back. With his transformation nearly complete he plans to remove his transition videos from YouTube and blend into society.