By Mila Jam
Today we celebrate International Trans Day of Visibility. Today is a day we get to see ourselves and celebrate our journeys. We need to see ourselves so we connect with ourselves and learn to love ourselves. Visibility is the first step to inclusivity so we need to be seen.
For me, being invisible is somewhat a part of the marginalized/black/trans queer/LGBTQ+ experience. I feel as though I always knew that it was going to be part of the journey. Being me, being born different, I’ve always felt like that’s just what comes with the territory.
As a young, queer kid, it wasn’t enough to exist, it wasn’t enough for me to just be who I am. My identity made me invisible to others until I got on stage to sing or dance or perform. I wasn’t cool or acceptable or even noticed until people could see me as a performer. I had to be entertaining to fit in and for people to accept me. Performing was a way for me to express myself but also one of the only ways to feel seen.
What I’ve learned since then is that as long as we decide to participate in the illusion of other people’s ideas of who we are, we are going to continue to be invisible. We need to break that. We need to be our true authentic selves. But we also need to know that when we do break that, when you step into your truth and who you are authentically, it can still feel like invisibility, because some people will want to shun you more when you step into who you really are because it doesn’t feed what they thought about you, or who they thought you are. So I think that’s part of an important conversation about being visible, living your truth and being on your own journey.
We also live in the age of information and it can feel like you’re not a part of the conversation if you’re not sharing what’s going on with you as a trans woman – in your dating life, in your career, in your health, in the experiences you’ve encountered.
Now, I want my art and activism to affect people and affect change by just existing unapologetically.
My personal wellness comes first, my personal health comes first, and that in itself is a journey. You have to have a really strong sense of self motivation and I think that the strength we get for self motivation and the strength to forge our own paths and just be true to ourselves comes from a level of love and support that we get. That can be from our families or the people that we had access to, whether that’s a mentor or an idol, and something that we hang on to to give us the strength to be like ‘oh, you know, i’m going to be myself and i’m just going to do this.’
For anyone struggling with self acceptance and mental health, I’d like to say that you’re not alone. Mental health is a real thing and it’s about learning where you’re at and learning your level of mental health stress and who can help you with that, whether it’s a therapist, if that is a clinician or a doctor or someone you know. It’s okay to need help and it’s important to get help and be open to getting help.
Many of us grew up in communities where mental health issues were not dealt with and where issues had to be extreme before someone would pay attention. Thankfully that’s changing and mental health issues are being talked about more often and openly in our communities than ever before. There are now resources out there and in this age of information it’s much easier to access the information and utilize the resources available to us.
Things don’t change overnight and we don’t just have the magic answer, but it really helps to have more trans people out there that are open and visible and on TV and in the media, talking about mental health but also just existing in those places instead of being invisible.
How to Support Trans People
There are some really simple ways to support the trans community: accept us, listen to us and pay us equitably.
Accept that we are all human and that trans people are all unique and special people who have so much to bring to the table.
Pay non-binary people and trans people for our work. Our labor is just as valuable. It’s amazing how often we are asked to do the work, put in our time and skills, but for free. Money is important and our communities deserve to be paid fairly.
Listen to the Community. Listen to those who are different and listen to what they have to say.S Sometimes it’s about listening and then going home to ponder over those conversations. Listen instead of telling black and trans and queer people how to feel.
Remember on this day of trans day of visibility, and every day, we’re all pretty ones on the inside and that’s what nurtures the outside. We have to really see ourselves for who we are, we have to learn to love ourselves before we can go and express that to other people.
Mila’s new EP Pretty One
I‘m super excited that my new EP is out, pretty ones! It’s all about expression. It’s about evolution and self love. I think we all have a pretty one inside of us and this EP and this music experience is about celebrating that the journey is hard, no matter who we are, but it really is just about embracing our pretty one inside that little girl, that little boy that little person, however, you feel, there’s a beauty, there is a pretty one inside there.
So everyone get it, stream it and listen to it! And the music video just dropped so indulge in my visual video experience of being a pretty one and that journey.
If you’re looking for help, The National Center for Transgender Equality has a list of mental health resources.
Watch Mila Jam’s OutSPOKEN series for Out Leadership on LinkedIn and follow Out Leadership on LinkedIn and other social media platforms to stay up to date.