We have to work twice as hard in order for us to exist in a space of our own. Yes, we may have a triple threat but if anyone can handle it, it’s us.You may have already heard of her, but Gizelle Messina is a Los Angeles-based makeup artist for M·A·C Cosmetics who is making waves within the trans community. Messina recently was featured in the SHOWTIME documentary More than T and like many trans women, she has overcome challenges and built a powerful platform. (This interview has been edited for clarity.) Wear Your Voice: How did this documentary first come about for you and what were your thoughts going into it? Gizelle Messina: The documentary was a project created by M·A·C to continue its passion for people who don’t have a voice. M·A·C already had a campaign that started in 1994 to help support men, women and children with HIV. $1.8 million out of that fund was used for the documentary. I saw a flyer posted in the break room and I had to meditate on it because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it. I wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a lot of heavy editing because I wanted to make sure it was my voice. WYV: Being a visible trans woman can be hard for many. How did you find the courage to step into your own truth and live authentically? GM: It’s something that I still battle every day. For me it was almost like boot camp being that I had to transition while managing a store in Century City. It was tough but it definitely helped me thicken my skin more than it already was just from growing up and not being able to identify [as] who I was. Having to go to work every day and claiming my authentic self and demanding that people respect me for who I was, helped [me] curate strength. Even today, when I leave my home I get anxiety. We never know what’s going to happen when we’re out there. But I would rather go out in the street and take that chance; just going out and demanding your respect. You may not agree with it but I’m walking. Being a black trans woman, it’s imbedded in us because of the type of community we are in.
Not only does Matt Bomer’s portrayal of a transgender woman enable violence against trans women, it also takes away yet another job from a trans person.
TW/CW – Mentions of transmisogyny and physical violence against trans women.In yet another setback for the transgender community, the film Anything written and directed by Timothy McNeil, premiered mid-June at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film portrays cis male actor, Matt Bomer as a transgender woman who enters a relationship with a widower (John Carroll Lynch) who recently moved to Los Angeles. Cis people playing and being rewarded for their roles as trans people is nothing new — Robert Reeds, Elle Fanning, Jared Leto, Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Tambor, Eddie Redmayne and many other cis actors have portrayed the roles of trans people in both film and television. The transgender community has repeatedly criticized these films because we are being misrepresented and this is deeply troubling because only 16% of the population knows someone who is transgender. However, our critiques and demands for fair representation are continuously ignored as the film industry keeps hiring cis actors to portray us, ultimately leading us to wondering why this persists.
When Black, indigenous women and femmes of color, nurture and love themselves, it is most definitely revolutionary. Self-care is a fluid concept. It is vital and it looks different from person to person. Essentially, self-care means doing something kind for yourself,