Luna Oberlin: A Woman Within

Embracing one’s identity is a journey that unfolds uniquely for each individual, and for me, celebrating my queerness as a Black trans woman has been a profound and empowering experience.

Navigating the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality, I have discovered layers of strength, resilience, and authenticity within myself. This prompt explores the transformative nature of embracing queerness within the context of my identity as a Black trans woman, delving into the challenges faced and the triumphs achieved on this remarkable voyage of self-discovery.

As a first-generation Nigerian growing up in Calgary, Alberta, my journey has been marked by a constant struggle for acceptance and understanding. In a society where conformity often reigns, I found myself at the intersection of two marginalized identities, facing both racism from non-Black individuals and queerphobia from within the Black community. It was a challenging experience, leaving me feeling like I never truly belonged anywhere. However, my quest for connection and community took a transformative turn when I moved to Toronto, where I discovered a vibrant Black queer community that provided a haven for shared laughter, experiences, and opinions. Moving to Toronto was a turning point in the discovery of my Transness.

" Embracing intersectionality has been pivotal in my journey towards finding pride in being a Black trans woman. "

Embracing intersectionality has been pivotal in my journey towards finding pride in being a Black trans woman. For me, it meant acknowledging the richness that comes from the convergence of my Black trans womanhood. It is not about classifying these aspects but instead weaving them together to create a unique tapestry of selfhood. I uncovered aspects of femininity that resonate authentically with who I am, rather than conforming to societal expectations of what a woman should be.

Moving to Toronto opened my eyes to the myriad of backgrounds, cultures, and stories that contribute to the vibrancy of our community. Embracing this diversity has allowed me to appreciate the strength that comes from the collective experiences of individuals who, like me, navigate the complexities of the gender binary. Being around the Toronto queer community has challenged me to question the things I was taught growing up about what gender and sex was.

Graphic featuring a black and white collage of diverse queer people.

Gender and sex are analogous to a spectrum, where individuals fall along a continuum rather than fitting into rigid categories. Just as colours blend seamlessly on a spectrum, gender and sex encompass a diverse range of identities and expressions. I condemn those complicit in hostile sexism towards trans and gender-nonconforming individuals due to their limited beliefs.

In addition to the challenges, I faced growing up as a Black queer person in Calgary and the transformative experiences in Toronto’s Black queer community, another layer of complexity has been added to my journey as a Black trans woman. The constant experience of being masculinized due to my deep voice and assertiveness has been a recurring theme in my life, further highlighting the pervasive impact of societal expectations on gender expression. Under the influence of white supremacy, Black individuals often face ostracism and exploitation,
particularly targeting our bodies and our trauma. This systemic bias extends to our white cis counterparts, as Black cis and trans women are denied equal protection, with femininity
erroneously seen as exclusive to white cis women.

The societal expectation for Black trans women to conform to feminine standards in order to gain respect while simultaneously invalidating our womanhood strikes me as absurd and
frustrating. Assertiveness, a trait celebrated in many spheres, takes on a different dynamic when expressed by a Black trans woman. The societal expectation for women, and particularly trans women, to conform to passive or submissive roles clashes with the reality of my assertive nature. The intersection of race, gender, and transgender identity creates a unique set of challenges as society grapples with preconceived notions about how individuals should express themselves.

This constant masculinization not only highlights the need for broader societal acceptance and understanding but also underscores the importance of challenging and dismantling harmful gender norms. It is crucial to recognize that a person’s voice or assertiveness does not define
their gender identity. Every individual, regardless of their gender expression, deserves to be respected and acknowledged in a way that affirms their authentic self.

As I navigate the complexities of being a Black trans woman, I am driven to challenge these stereotypes and create a space where diverse expressions of gender are not only accepted but celebrated. It is a call to action for society to move beyond the limitations of traditional gender
norms, recognizing that the spectrum of gender expression is vast and varied. This journey extends beyond personal empowerment; it is a collective effort to reshape societal attitudes and foster an inclusive environment where everyone, regardless of their gender identity, is valued and embraced. By amplifying diverse voices, sharing our stories, and advocating for change, we contribute to the ongoing evolution of a society that genuinely celebrates the richness of human experience and identity. We as Black trans women, have every right to embrace our confidence
without society undermining us.

Photo of the Author

About Luna

Hi folks my name is Luna Oberlin! I’m a black trans creator on TikTok who makes content about makeup and empowering trans people to celebrate their uniqueness. If you’d like to follow me on my journey of self acceptance, my TikTok username is @lunaparisxoxo

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