Take back the narrative

Oppressive people exert control by describing us on their terms and telling us who we are. Controlling the narrative means controlling the power.


Photo Credit: The Gender Spectrum Collection

Featured Stories

Take Back the Narrative: The Work of K Pontuti

A narrative on identity and art by artist, filmmaker, and professor K Pontuti  I grew up in a small farm town in Ohio at a time where there wasn’t any language around queerness or transness—at least nothing positive. It was also a time without the internet so...

Take Back the Narrative: El & Elliott – A Love Story

In the burgeoning digital age, it is not uncommon for couples to meet online, and this is exactly how El and Elliott first connected. Elliott submitted a personals ad looking for friendship and dates, and El excitedly answered the call. During their first in-person...

Take Back the Narrative: Alicia Arballo Expresses Trans* Grief Through Poetry

As an older trans woman, out of my myriad of experiences over the years, some of which includes working with veterans, I have found there is much healing through accessing and processing grief. I believe that much of what is going on with our current climate of...

What It Means to Take Back the Narrative

All across the country, transphobic conservatives and religious extremists have taken control of the narrative of Trans lives. The stories told by these parties consistently attack Trans communities, painting us as something to be dehumanized and feared, to be regarded as harmful and negative simply for existing. For far too long, these folks have been in control of what and who Trans people are, without actually taking the time to get to know us themselves. This narrative says Trans identities are dangerous and should be erased or cast out of society’s view. However, that is exactly why now more than ever, it’s important for us all to learn how to use our voices to reclaim our own power by telling our actual stories.

It’s your story, not theirs.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal, and those spreading hate have had the microphone for too long. Whether it’s a personal essay, a video, or even a work of art, elevating Trans stories helps us take control of the cultural moment. The Trans community is bursting with narratives of resistance and resilience but also compassion, joy, and humor. And we want them to thrive.  

If you would like to join us by sharing your story, we’d like to help amplify it. This isn’t just Trans Empowerment Project’s story to tell, the authentic experiences of our community should be told by you, our trans siblings! We would love to hear the stories of Trans community leaders, activists, and artists, but we are also just as invested in helping new storytellers find their voice and platform. Every Trans, Intersex, and Gender-Expansive person has a unique story to share and can help us move to a culture of change as we take back the narrative, together, and create real visibility beyond the binary.

Use the link below to join our storyteller list, and we will make sure you have the tools and training you need to make your story heard in the ways that feel right for you.

Help us thrive! Help us all to Take Back the Narrative!

ttWhy does storytelling matter?

As it stands now, our history has been hidden away from the public. Cultures that used to celebrate gender-nonconformity were gaslit by colonial forces into erasing their gender-diverse past. Our Trans ancestors were misgendered and stripped of their identity (and even today how many times have newscasters not respected Trans individuals’ pronouns? How many obituaries have listed one’s gender at birth instead of their gender identity). The Stonewall Riots, the birth of queer pride, is entirely absent from public education despite its significance to both the Trans and queer communities and the impact it has on how society interacts with those communities today. Even now, too few sympathetic cisgender allies are even aware of the current challenges our communities face, but also don’t always understand the joy that comes from being outwardly accepted for being your Trans self. 

Think on this: How many instances have movies or T.V. shows shown trans people to be overly sexual? How many times have trans people been the villains in our video games? How many trans people in books have lived long enough to have a happily ever after? And also think on this: In how many of those instances were those narratives written by TIGE folk? These stories from cishet perspectives have consistently attacked the Trans community, encouraging transphobic rhetoric. By making a place for our own stories, Trans people can not only speak out against transphobia but also showcase the truth of the Trans experience. We can be loving, funny, daring, intelligent, messy, passionate, creative, and human. Think of how important it would have been to you as a young Trans person to hear these stories. How much would it have comforted you? Encouraged you? Together, we can create a space that nurtures understanding instead of inspiring fear. We can make representation that shows Trans people as we really are.