Leslie Fields-Cruz
OCTOBER 5, 2022




By Leslie Fields-Cruz

New 'Be Heard' Campaign Addresses Gender Pronouns

BPM Celebrates LGBT History Month with New Shorts Series on Gender Affirmation

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey reports that Black transgender and gender nonconforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination. From their experiences with family and the workplace, to health care systems and police interactions, as anti-Blackness and anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment combine, the adverse effects on Black LGBTQIA+ individuals increase. And yet, as Imara Jones, host and creator of TransLash Podcast says, “The truth is that [the] lives [of trans and gender nonconforming people] are defined by so much more than hate.”

As the Black parent of a gender nonconforming adult, nonacceptance was never an issue. I love my child, and affirming who they are is and will always be of utmost importance to me and my husband. So I educated myself, attended workshops, and asked questions because that’s what a parent who loves their child does, right?

In 2019, the Pew Research Center found that while 73% of Americans know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, less than half (47%) feel comfortable using them. This study came out after my nonbinary child shared their new pronouns with me. But it affirmed my understanding that we, as a society, lack the tools and language to have conversations beyond the binary of two genders (man/masculine and woman/feminine) and two sexes (male and female).      

That’s why, during this year’s LGBT History Month, Black Public Media is excited to premiere a new micro-doc film series capturing three personal stories of gender affirmation through a Black lens. Whether you’re new to understanding the nuances of gender identity or have been advocating gender affirmation for years, I hope you’ll watch Be Heard: I Am Who I Say I Am. The series debuts Thurs., Oct. 6, on Black Public Media’s YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

I Am Who I Say I Am boldly asserts that one’s gender cannot be dictated. The first film offers artist and educator Jei’s (they/them) personal take on how to learn about a person’s pronouns in the workplace. In another film, Brit (he/him) and his mom Sharon (she/her) talk about how to discuss gender identity with family members. And Dr. Maya (she/them), a dentist, offers their take on why using a patient’s gender-affirming pronouns is important in healthcare settings.

I aspire to a world where trans and gender nonconforming people feel affirmed, supported, and uplifted in whatever setting they’re in. I’m working toward a future that provides radical acceptance to all members of our society, including some of the most historically marginalized. Each of us must play our part. 

So, get ready for some Black gender-affirming joy and join us.

I Am Who I Say I Am is the second edition of BPM’s BeHeard! series, following #VoteBeHeard, which debuted in 2020. BPM commissioned this year’s project from Feral Films. I Am Who I Say I Am was directed by Sophia Clark (they/them). Throughout the series’ development and editorial process, it was supported by an advisory committee made up of Dr. Aymar Jean Christian (he/they) of Open Television, filmmaker Carrie Hawks (they/them) and PBS Digital Series host and actor, Kirya Traber (she/her).

Black Public Media is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with further funding from the MacArthur Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Acton Family Giving.  For more information about underwriting and contributions, please contact Alisa Norris (Alisa@ blackpublicmedia.org). To donate, click here! In addition, you can donate to BPM through your Amazon purchases by going to smile.amazon.com/ch/31-1335950.

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