Who Am I?

This guest post is from Lilianna Angel Reyes, who I had the pleasure of co-presenting with at the CLPP Reproductive Justice Conference. If you’re at the US Social Forum check out Lillianna’s TransFeminism workshop. Her bio is after the jump.
So….. at a recent conference, I was asked to speak about the amazing feminist organizations I represent. I thought that would be fun, but then I thought about how, due to capitalism, we value people based on their formal work, not entirely what they believe or who they strive to become. It is as if we assimilate into our organizations’ missions in their entirety. Although I work for great organizations, I wanted to tell the conference guests why the organizations fit me and why they became a vehicle for my social justice passion. I wanted them to know who I was because, in truth, they could easily Google my organizations, but could never Google search me in my entirety. So, I wrote a spoken word piece about who I was. Through this poem, I allowed them to discern why I picked the organizations that represent me, not vice versa.
Who Am I?
I am a womyn-with a Y- who has been pushed aside because of not having a vagina! A womyn who has been actively pro choice and believes in a right to choose, whether it be to continue a pregnancy or whom one has sex with.
A womyn not a female, never wanting to comply with the gender sex parallel, but living my life at the intersection-unapologetically- being male and a womyn. Forcing the separation of gender and sex!
I am the one who has and still conforms to the ideal gender stereotype of being feminine and being womanly. Having silicone injected in her in the backroom of an apartment with the fear of dying within ten minutes. Yet not caring because my need to fit in, to look normal, to be passable.
I am the womyn who pops hormone pills without medical supervision because insurance companies won’t cover them and the doctors are uncomfortable giving them. Yet having the want and feeling and succumbing to the societal pressures of the gender binary.
Who Am I?
I am a person of color, specifically a Chicana of Mexican descent- who has been pushed away from my people because of my native language being Anglo, being white, being English. A proud Chicana shouting “La Raza” throughout my life learning an Anglo elitist Spanish, one that gets sneered on by my people.
I am a person of color whose people looks at her with disdain because of my gender choice that disassociates the sex chromosomes within me. I am a person of color that refuses to adopt total whiteness as beauty. Rockin’ my curly thick black hair no blonde highlights here, brown eyes, no blue contacts there, curvy sexy body, no diets to be a size 2.
Who Am I?
I am a transgender womyn of color-Chicana of Mexican descent Marxist radical feminist that wants so badly to destroy and change capitalism because the they who have are oppressing and forcing-us the oppressed- to oppress ourselves. They and we are stripping us of our culture by creating a norm for assimilation, and we are doing nothing-nothing-nothing stop them, to stop us.
Who Am I?
I am tired-tired of my transgender identity being pushed aside by my LGBT people, by my brothers and sisters- the organizations, groups, and individuals pushing us-the T aside- in order to push their agenda further. Telling me, telling us that our time will come, that we will have a way, an option, a fight, an ally. I am the one who is tired and refuses to wait for that time, but one of many who makes their own time!
I am one of many who will take our place in the struggle for equality. Not jogging behind, or stepped on, but standing next too our sisters and brothers fighting for equal rights- in addition to trans rights- not in lieu of them. I am the pissed off transgender womyn-with a y- who will forcefully take my place in the front line, not as a token, but as a warrior for peaceful means for equality.
Who Am I?
I am not only oppressed, but am the oppressor, the gatekeeper, the one who marginalizes my people. I am the one who is tired of the pain, tired of the tears, the blood, the homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist person I strive to not become yet succumb to at the same time everyday.
Who Am I?
I am one of many to not rest on the laurels of the past, but continue the fight of the future. As Rebecca Walker said she was the third, I am the fourth. The fourth wave feminist who stands tall encompassing all the momentum of the foremothers before me, the forefathers paving the way. I encompass racist feminists, homophobic activists and transphobic revolutionaries. They push me, I am the amalgamation of them, yet I am one, the one of many who will continue to fight for trans people in a new direction in a new paradigm, free from the hate of the past warriors. Based on love and equality, not on fear and assimilation.
Who Am I?
I am they, I am them, I am us, I am we, I am you! Who you are, I am too!

Lilianna Angel L.C. Reyes has been a long time pro choice fourth wave feminist activist in her personal, collegiate, and professional life. She utilizes her passions to find an equilibrium of justice. Her Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQQ) work is closely intertwined with her reproductive justice work, women, and people of color work. She strategically waits until the Revolution begins, so she can spring into action; totally not joking!

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

Read more about Jos

Join the Conversation

  • Comrade Kevin

    Thank you for writing this. It is very instructive and helpful.

  • Brittany

    May I ask why some feminists say “womyn”?
    Is there something degrading about “women” the way it’s supposed to be spelled?
    Not being sarcastic or snarky here, just a little confused every time I read it.

  • Marisa

    You were AMAZING at the conference and I’m so glad this has been posted so I can experience again. Wonderful words thank you so much!

  • TB

    “Women” and “woman” are not unique terms, but rather linguistic modifiers of “men” and “man,” and play into long-held traditional representations in Western, English-speaking societies of “man” as default, and “woman” as other, or a form of “man” rather than a form of “human” (which actually presents the same linguistic challenge). Essentially, like how to make Minnie Mouse, you add eyelashes and a bow to Mickie Mouse, rather than begin with a unique individual.
    This led some feminists to create and advance “womyn” as a term that people could use to categorically express this set of people in a way that would not require putting eyelashes on “man.”
    Following the style of “womyn,” there are also terms like “persyn” or “herstory” that use a female identifier rather than a male identifier to both point out the embedding of male-ness in the language and to provide an alternative term that focuses on women/womyn.
    I don’t myself use “womyn” in text when referring to people, because it actually feels othering to me since it leaps off the page – but that is also why I am sure it is empowering to many, and I am glad that such choices exist and are today in common use in many circles.
    And BTW, many thanks to the author, I greatly enjoyed this piece.

  • genericjanedoe

    It’s frequently used to break the patriarchal framing of the language that puts men as the base and woMEN as the after thought…in other words, it makes womyn it’s own thing instead of a modifier on the word men.
    It’s not for everyone, but it’s interesting to me to see how our language shapes our reality.
    And the term’s applied in different ways; in the context of this writing, the author is using the term to distinguish between sex and gender:
    A womyn not a female, never wanting to comply with the gender sex parallel, but living my life at the intersection-unapologetically- being male and a womyn. Forcing the separation of gender and sex!