Posted on February 7, 2020

A Letter to Black Trans Women About Embracing Our Natural Hair

Ivana Fischer, Huffington Post, February 5, 2020

It is no secret that Black women are the champions of rocking protective hairstyles. Black women are wizards of wig-ology and sorceresses of the sew-in. The innovation and creativity of Black women is truly magical, especially when it comes to manipulating the color, shape, texture and style of our natural hair. Transforming the appearance of our luscious locks with just the products available to us, a ton of upper-arm strength and a prayer that our hands get through wash day has become an Olympic sport that Black women all over have earned their gold medals in.

However, Black hair — often described as unkempt, animalistic and coarse — is often not given the necessary flexibility to exist in its natural state.


In a society built on the subordination of Blackness, it is easy to identify the ways Black women’s features are unjustly categorized as masculine and brutish. The messages lobbed at women who rock their locs, braids and TWAs often challenge the validity of Black femininity.


For Black trans women like me, this can be an extremely difficult conundrum to navigate. We are bombarded with prejudice based on preconceived notions about our gender identities and how we should present. {snip} If you think Black cisgender women are held to the most unforgiving societal standards of natural beauty, think again.

The start of my transition was a rocky sea of trials and tribulations. {snip} My identity was constantly called into question. A day never went by without me having to talk about the trans stuff.

The levels of ignorance I experienced in my daily life led me to adopt wigs as shields of honor. {snip}

So I clung to wigs and weaves. I reveled in the (bad) extensions and the butt-length braids. I did everything I could to hide my natural hair from the world, so as to not get ridiculed and taunted. {snip}

But when I did eventually stop wearing wigs and started to nurture my natural hair, I was delighted as it grew and became healthy again. I started to find beauty in what is often viewed as masculine.


It is common for Black trans women to wear some form of extensions to preserve their images and to attempt to avoid discrimination. {snip}

{snip} But I’m encouraging other Black trans women to embrace that natural face. Nourish your natural hair. The sooner we are able to accept the ferocious elegance that comes with being Black and natural, the sooner we can change the negative rhetoric surrounding our lovely locks.