Of the many events put on by the Student Alliance for Reproductive Justice during Sex Week, the Women’s Resource Center sponsored a lecture Tuesday night from Kat Blaque, a well-known YouTube personality and transgender rights activist.
Her lecture in Keller Hall was titled, “True Tea with Kat Blaque,” a reference to her YouTube video blogs. This talk featured many anecdotal elements, aiming to encourage the audience members to stay strong through life’s many trials and tribulations, especially focused on living as a transgender individual.
Blaque explained she found her self identity when she was in elementary school, but she began to make YouTube videos as a teen. This was a time of discovery for Blaque, as she created a new identity for herself by initially wearing a wig found in her grandmother’s closet, creating the character, “Daphne the Destroyer,” in her YouTube videos. Blaque eventually went on to attend California Institute for the Arts to pursue a career in animation.
During the lecture, Blaque described her experience being a transgender woman of color and the difficulty of living a life in “stealth” — a phrase in the transgender community for an individual living as their desired gender without their sex being questioned.
“As a trans person, you become very aware of how people knowing that you’re transgender can affect you,” she said.
In Blaque’s experience with living life as “stealth,” she recognized that hiding a secret burdened her with stress. Her story of this anxiety, of hiding one’s transgender identity, is not uncommon. Many transgender individuals seek a life of living “stealth” to avoid stigma.
Blaque mentioned that often the initiative taken to live “stealth” is to completely reinvent one’s life by changing their name, moving to a different state and leaving behind loved ones and friends of their past.
She began to feel renewed after practicing a life of “stealth” when she attended CalArts College, Blaque said. She was able to live life with the identity she wanted to have, but she felt a void due to the inability to truly open up to anyone in her life.
Blaque said one concern transgender individuals have about going “stealth” is the potential backlash unleashed if their identity were to be exposed. She said she experienced having this fear come to life when she finally confided in a friend about her gender transition and transgender identity. The response to her truth was upsetting for her, as her previous identity and personal pictures were publicized to the community.
“There are so many situations where when men are attracted to transgender women, and when the man finds out that this woman is transgender, even if she is not interested, the male resorts to a violent response,” Blaque said.
This story is a narrative common to transgender individuals who become victims of acts of violence out of transphobia.
“I had my issues with wanting to live ‘stealth,’ because I wanted to survive,” Blaque said. “Not only in school, but especially around men who might respond violently.”
The ability to live a life without Blaque’s gender identity being questioned could have been a potential path to focus on her larger goals in life, instead of living with the concern of “passing” as her desired gender.
This led to the theme of Blaque’s lecture: resilience — an ideology that she impressed upon her audience.
“Even though these horrible situations happened, I’m still here, I’m still me, I still have my job, and I’m still cute,” Blaque said.
When her life seemed to fall apart, and her fears were made reality, she said she realized that she should not give these instances the power to prohibit her from being who she desires to be.
Blaque hopes this message was one that can resonate not only with the transgender community but could also be understood and appreciated by individuals of many other intersectionalities.
Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @r_brusseau.