When I was a young girl, I had a weekly ritual with my mother to do my hair. It was, and will always be, a particular time I hold dear to my heart. Every week my mother would care for her three daughters’ hair, a labor of love I learned early on. The hours she would spend on us — washing our hair, greasing our scalps, mentoring us on how to do our own hair eventually — I don’t know how she did it.

And while my journey with hair has and continues to see its valleys and peaks of emotion, as a young Black trans girl, I learned my hair was one of the first things I knew about myself.

Growing up in the American Midwest (Columbus, Ohio, to be exact), I didn’t know if my hair had a gender. As my hair texture is different from my siblings and mother’s, I also questioned if I had the hair of my own people.

As we expand this moment of extraordinarily nuanced representation of Black women and our stories in media, we at the Marsha P. Johnson Institute know that a conversation about hair is rooted in the celebration of our identities and our inner knowing of our truths.

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© Copyright 2019 Marsha P. Johnson Institute. All rights reserved. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute is a fiscally sponsored project of Social Good Fund, a California nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)(3) organization, Tax ID (EIN) 46-1323531.

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