While there is no end to the stories of White and Light Trans Women who are engineers, medical doctors, pilots, research scientists, and entrepreneural pioneers – CEOs of businesses manufacturing tangible, durable goods . . . we Black and Brown Trans Women focus on and seem to almost entirely define our Trans Feminine identities by Ball Culture.
I admired all kinds of Queer Elder Stateswomen who managed to survive through Drag performance but Transgender Women like Wendy Carlos the musician and Lynn Conway the computer engineer are the women who I personally identified with, saw as role models, and thought to emulate as I transitioned.
As a woman, I was also long inspired by Cisgender Women like my Grandmothers, Grand Aunts, Aunts and of course my Mother, women who were Black Female Executives and Career Military at a time when the stereotype for Black Women in popular media never showed Black Women as powerful professionals unless you count Julia, that television series about a Black Female Nurse.
Any critique I have voiced along these lines over the past 40-plus years has regularly been condemned in Black and White terms.
My saying we could have and today still can form – supportive communities that are built around something other Drag is always translated into an extreme claim I think nobody should be part of Ball Culture.
My suggesting that no matter how poor we are or how mean our circumstances, that we can work together and form a guerrilla-style ArtScience underground culture that is vital, creative, and prosperous is ignored or attacked. Not attacked rationally but ad hominem, personal attacks on my character by people who don’t know me, don’t care to know me, yet strangely professing to know what I am all about. It is how I discovered that by repeating a lie online enough times has the effect of making it true most of the time unless you have some tribe or a noteworthy media angel to stand up for you.
Anyway, I cannot express strongly enough how nothing I have ever said or done invalidates any person’s desire to be a Cosmetologist, Makeup Artist, Fashion Model and or Actress, Graphic Designer and or Visual Artist, Poet and or Author, Musician, Choreographer and or Dancer, Professional Athlete, Social Worker, Social Activist and or Elected/Appointed Official, and of course those trace elements of Black Trans and Non-Binary software programmers.
What I am saying is that most of those have a limited potential to provide sustainable wealth for individuals and communities that are already severely marginalized, pushed to the fringes of society.
More importantly, these specific careers are always individual aspirations, not the cooperative aims of people working together for a common good.
Add to this that from a strictly business perspective, each of those career aims are among the highest risk and (with the possible exception of opening a restaurant), inarguably the very lowest potential for reward.
Now though there is admittedly a small but very real Black Maker Culture, but the few examples that do exist are either formed as Experiential Learning MakerSpace intended to complement education or are they are passion projects, built to serve local DIY-er, hobbyist and or craft persons who typically do something else to earn a living. It is not a sustainable model by intention and so by design.
These education oriented MakerSpaces presume the student will eventually graduate from the institutional learning environment to mainstream corporate industrial careers. There are dozens of books and videos coaching people who are self-determined “Non-Conformists”, but precious little is objectively written addressing people mainstream society determines are “Other” through no fault of their own.
Within the Maker Movement which is largely White CisHet and Male there is little discussion of the power of Making as a subversive survival tool, because they obviously have no motivation. That means no mention of leveraging the systemic power of cheap processing power, software, you know, like how the Internet and World Wide Web became a thing, then coupling that to relatively low-cost micro-manufacturing technologies such as 3D printers and computer controlled subtractive technology, multiaxis milling machines.
So deeply ingrained is the toxic, ill-serving false myth of the rugged individualism that even when cooperative organizations do coalesce (form), in the US they tend to function objectively more like a group of people working alone together, unable to distinguish how that is fundamentally different that a truly collaborative, cooperative team.
I have invested decades in the concept of a micro-industrial workers in union, creating competitively marketable durable goods. I have published articles beyond count on how computer controlled weaving, cutting, and fabricating in combination with 3D printing of textiles elements could be a game changer in fashion, as one of dozens of potentially lucrative and untapped markets.
In an effort to demonstrate how areas where LGBT creatives are already heavily invested can benefit, I tried to introduce, over a 20-plus year period, the idea of cosmetic and hair styling salons having detailed client databases that hold clients history of treatments and details like what areas of an individual’s hair is resistant to coloring with specific products.
The result was to be listened to and politely ignored at best in the certain belief that there is no practical use or interest for such a service even if they could afford it. To put it mildly, I despair of ever finding any productive expression for my skills.