In Conversation: Black Trans Activist Lexii Foxx
By Eri Pappas
LA Free Press reporter Eri Pappas Zoomed with Lexii Foxx, a Black trans woman in New York who has become an organizer during this year’s movement. They talked about Foxx’s journey to becoming an organizer, her experience at this year’s events, her visions for the future, and hers and Eri’s relationships to the Black Lives Matter movement and to feminism.
LAFP: What made you decide to become more involved in organizing?
Lexii: I was working with some other organizers. I went to Detroit, Michigan for a Prayers Retreat, a church that reached out to us. We were advocating for trans women that had got murdered and died, and people kind of didn’t even really care. And I was suggesting to the other organizers I was with that I should bring another girl that I know, that walks my everyday life. She’s one of a kind, and, you know, she’s very divine. Her name was Layla Sanchez. I was putting up pictures of the people that had passed, and lighting candles. I hadn’t spoke to Layla Sanchez in just a few months. She was a girl that was definitely my homegirl. And I was putting up pictures and I put up her picture and I was in front of a church, and I am really a church-based person, and it had been a long time since I had been in church, so I had really got in touch with church, especially being a trans woman, so that was new to me. This church was accepting me, it was a great church also.
But yeah, I had got real opened up again also from Christ. Getting welcomed back into it. And I had seen her picture, and I put it up, and I was right in front of the altar and everything, and it really tore me down to know that she had died. She was a nice friend, especially towards the beginning. She was sweet and I can’t believe she got murdered. It was hard. She’s one of many and I feel like a lot of my other transgender women sisters that walk the everyday life that I do honestly have passed.
The life expectancy of a transgender woman, Black, is 35. I want to be able to make the legacy of saying that I’m past 35. I’m 29 now. November I will be 30.
That’s what made me really want to advocate and push more, bring awareness in all types of ways. I’m very talented. I just feel like anything that I’ve learned over the 29 years of me living in the United States of America, if I can help the younger generation, the LGBTQA+ — I just want to be able to help others, bring awareness, and I really hope for the best for the world. And I hope that I can impact in some type of way. I’m a real person. And I’m going to tell you real things. And world, I hope you’re ready.
Chloe the dog appears on Lexi’s screen! Zoom breaks while we pamper her.
LAFP: As far as the organizing that you’ve been doing this year: what sort of organizing have you been doing? Has it been more marches, more education?
Lexii: If it’s education I support it — people like TS Candii and SX Noir — and the other organizers that I’m learning to be familiar with. I do march and do the rallies, if it’s a cause that I represent.
For my own personal things, I do outreaching. It tends to go towards sex workers and people that use drugs and drink alcohol a little bit too much, substance abuse in some type of way. If I can help those, I give gift bags, and the gift bags consist of health-hygiene things, maybe little snacks, maybe a little compact mirror, stuff like that. Anything that can help. And the reason I do this: yes, anyone can go into the store and get this, but some, I have noticed, that walk the life that I walk, may choose not to get the necessities that a normal person would need because they have an addiction. And I just want to draw to you that addiction is real to me in my life. No, I have never in my life been on any other drug than marijuana, but drugs still affected my whole life ‘til now. With my family and friends, addiction is real. And I know I love these people and I know they love me, and I know they can’t help but love the addiction that they got going on also, and they just can’t break off of it even when they know it’s not good for them, and I see that, so I know it’s real. These are real people that I know, and I know I’m a real person, so I can do nothing but relate and understand and learn more and see how to help. If I can just be that vessel to help just to get you where you need, or give you a safe spot to talk, maybe you’re just not ready to confront it: yes, I’m addicted to something. If you can just talk about it, if I can organize things for that. All types of stuff. I have so many things I want to do. I’m so everywhere. But it’s all good and nurturing.
LAFP: I love that, because I’ve found in my own — whatever activism I’m taking on at the time — there’s something that’s so wonderful about rooting for someone and for something instead of just being angry and against. It’s so necessary to have the nurture and support as well. Otherwise it’s just pure aggression.
Lexii: It’s just right.
LAFP: You said last time that we spoke that this is what you want to continue to do with your life. Is there a specific trajectory you see with that? Is there a type of project you want to take on?
Lexii: Honestly, the project I want to take on — it would be my first, honestly, I never did any type of organizing, and every time I go to a rally I’m so intimidated on if I should even speak, I’m so shy. But I have a voice, I really do. Just as long as I know I have people supporting me, and I love people like everyone loves me, things should be great. But my task that I’ve been thinking about, and writing and jotting things down and speaking to others all over the United States about, is like — I really wanted to maybe, possibly run something as far as Stop Killing Us. Bear with me. I want to have — I’ve seen a few organizers that inspired me — I would like to have a little clip or video. I want each organizer to be like: Stop. Stop, stop, stop. You know? And then Killing us, killing us. Everyone doing that. And then we all come together one like a big Zoom conference, all synchronized, talking about Trans Lives Matter. And then maybe someone can speak, or say something on it, or whoever. Something like that. Maybe just a commercial.
I want to give trans visibility. Something I’ve learned about that is trans visibility is very important. People need to know that we are here. I’m glad for people like Laverne Cox that have made it successful, and have a nice history, clean life, and present themselves well. I’m glad about that. I’m not happy about the stigma that people have for every transgender in the community and assume that they do all the same things. I’m not even going to speak of it because I’m not going to give that power. People have bad stigmas on everything. People always judge certain things that they do not know about. Even I, and I must say that, and I’m glad to know that I’m learning. I’m flexible, I’m going with the generation. The world evolves every day, and everyone matters, every life matters. I feel like everyone should be judged individually.
Anyway, that’s the whole little feng shui of how I want it to go. I still want it to be an event also. I wanted to have other speakers that inspired me, of course, and others that just wanted to join and have something positive to say if it’s in the context of things that are going on. This is really important to me, and I think awareness should be brought that people should stop killing us. I was discussing with others that maybe — I have a photographer friend that just started his business, I’m working with my friends, he said he would help me — I was thinking, not necessarily I would lay down on the ground and take a beautiful picture through a chalk outline. You know, the image of somebody possibly died.
This all came from when I walked into a dollar store in Brooklyn off Nostrand, and I’d seen this police caution tape, and I was like, hm, we’re dying.
Maybe I should just wrap myself up, be sexy, and just take a picture in this police caution tape, and just give this message. People like me, people like seeing me. Maybe through this trans visibility that these people also love — for the cis women, for the cis men, and LGBT, if they are fond of me, maybe I can start sending a message through also, since you’re looking at me. And send a positive message through. You know what I’m saying.
That’s my little piece of dream so far. And from there, I just want to keep being great. I’ve had a life of knowledge, and I’ve learned a lot from these 29 years of living.
LAFP: I love the concept of a life full of knowledge. I feel like any sort of opposition to the change that people are demanding right now comes from people who refuse to change their mind, and refuse to educate themselves. And I love how so much of the emphasis of all of these movements is on learning and taking a step back and listening, and then stepping forward again. It sounds like you’re giving a lot of space for that.
Lexii: It took so many years. I am African and Indian also, and I’m from North Carolina. I do not know all of my history, I must say. But it took a long time for us just to be able to sit down and have a conversation like this. It took a long time for me, and other Blacks and whites, to be visible to others, to be publicly in a relationship or just have friendships, and I’m glad of that. I’m glad of that. We protect us. We got out backs. And thank you, for listening to our voice. You were telling me, your privilege this that and the third, and I’m glad — I didn’t even realize it, but privilege is real also. It is. Privilege is real in a lot of ways. Not just whites have privilege. Others have privilege too, it’s just in different aspects and ways. People have privilege. What I was telling you — people may adore me, that’s my privilege. So let me use it the right way, and direct it and make it a positive thing. Beyonce has good voice, that’s a great privilege to have a beautiful voice like that. So let’s use that and send a good message out. If you have that privilege, send a good message out. I have my little brother and sister. I have to think about everything I say and do. So it has to be in dignity. As of now, I’m a public figure.
LAFP: When you’re given a platform, we just have to hope that the platform’s in the right hands to use it.
Lexii: Oh, yes. Yes you do. That’s a whole other thing: watch what you represent. Only you can put your two feet forward and walk.
LAFP: I think we sort of covered this when you were speaking about your video, but just as a straightforward question, with all of the organizing that you’re doing, on your own and with others: what are you asking for?
Lexii: Stop killing us. To really sum it up: please just stop killing us. And to bring it to a broader horizon: our lives matter, trans lives matter, Black trans lives matter.
LAFP: I know that a big conversation between the Black Trans Lives Matter movement and the general Black Lives Matter movement is that the Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t always been as inclusive of the trans lives within it. Is that something that you’ve found to be true? I’m wondering what your relationship is to the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole.
Lexii: I feel honestly — oh, we’re in trouble, okay Black Lives Matter, I’m sorry, yes, I’m Black, and I’m one of them, so I have permission to speak on it — Black Lives Matter, that is a perfect message. Because our lives do matter. But there’s a twist to it. I honestly don’t believe those same people that chant every day that Black lives matter are still all the same people that will fight for this Black life. Because I’m a Black life. Am I not? I’m a trans woman, so, oh it’s a problem now. But I thought Black lives mattered. You are the same people that kill us. You Black men, you are the same people that kill us. I don’t really have to go farther. So, truly, do Black lives matter?
So, yes, this is why I scream a little bit more that Black trans lives matter. Because that’s what I want to bring to awareness. Yes, Black lives matter, of course. That was my assignment of life, I was Black, and I can’t change that. All the bleaching creams in the world, I was still listed as Black in the beginning. Now my gender has changed. Now it doesn’t matter anymore, and that’s not fair. That’s not right at all. That’s sad. And this is where it crosses in how everybody is still stuck in their mindset, so let’s not even get so mad at how privileged white already are trying to act, yes they are trying to learn and know and love us Blacks and understand our history, but some of these whites and caucasians that I know, honestly, they were born into this. So how can you even judge them as hard? They have to stop, listen, and learn just as much as the cis men and cis women have to stop, listen, and learn how the LGBT+ has continued. Everyone has to be that absorbable sponge and learn. There’s stepping stones you don’t just walk in one day, or fly. So I need people to evolve, I need people to accept, I need people to let things sink in that things are real. The world, it’s evolving. Get with it or just get out of it. But it’s no reason to kill anyone.
There’s just so many things to hit. Just like, oh my God, the subjects, the subjects.
LAFP: I’ve noticed that even for myself, as somebody that’s so removed from it personally, but invested just because I can see what’s right, there was this immediate exhaustion that came over me after doing it for a couple of weeks. And I saw that so many of my friends, everybody was so exhausted after just beginning to participate. And it made me realize what you were just saying, that there’s so much all the time. The mental repercussions of dealing with injustice — I’ve barely begun to touch the surface of it.
Lexii: I feel the energy. The first time I had this energy experience was when I was in New Orleans. I don’t know why. I don’t know history, like I said, I’m not big on history. But I went over a bridge to get into New Orleans, and I felt this energy. It’s hard to describe.
I was really Baptist, and strictly Baptist missionary in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And, you know, they don’t even have females in the pulpit from where I came from. They had to stand on the side. But things were strict there. So, me? Oh, my God.
LAFP: The last thing I wanted to talk about was similar to the Black Lives Matter movement — I wanted to know what your relationship has been with the contemporary feminism movement. By that I mean not just women’s suffrage, but the Women’s March, MeToo, Time’s Up, things that have been really noisy in the past couple years…. Independent of the Black Lives Matter movement, do you have much of a relationship with feminism? Is that something that you feel includes Black trans women?
Lexii: You know, when I had the subject of what we were talking about, I did question myself was I a feminist, and then the aspect of looking at the white feminist… and you know, I told you I literally didn’t understand the word that you —
Lexii: Yeah. So I had just listened to two podcasts, one “Hood Intersectionality” I think maybe a Black woman had written. Correct me if I’m wrong, is it Kimberly Crawford? She made the word 1989? And she was a Black woman?
LAFP: Wow, I actually don’t know. Let me see.
Lexii: I was listening to some podcasts. I heard about that. I even heard some stories, I heard about — for the word, they were telling me something about a manufacturing company. There were five Black women who sued this manufacturing company and the reason of them suing was because they were Black, and that they were women. And then they lost against the manufacturing company because they were basically saying that there were white women in the office, and they had Black men workers, so the Black five women that chose to do the lawsuit lost. That was that in-between, not spoken.
That’s when I was starting to learn different aspects of this word. They were even speaking on — the Black man gets out of the supermarket and all the white Caucasian women would lock their doors, you know, for precaution and all that.
LAFP: What I thinking about with intersectionality, as I thought to define it, is it’s a type of activism, specifically within feminism — I just looked it up, I didn’t know this woman, her name’s Kimberly Crenshaw, who coined it in ‘89 — it's the concept that race, class, gender, sexual orientation have to overlap with each other in order for one to receive its liberation. What I experienced personally with this word is, when in 2016 when the first Women’s Marches were happening and there was this burst of #MeToo and TimesUp and all these things, it was almost exclusively white women coming out and fighting for white women’s liberation. Without saying it, it just didn’t include Black women, it didn’t include Black trans women. It didn’t go very far beyond the scope of white women. So intersectionality is the concept that in order for a cause to actually achieve its goal, it has to become more inclusive. I don’t think that it’s achieved yet, though. That’s why I wanted to open up a conversation about it. “Feminism” to me sounds like white women on college campuses in the ‘60s.
Lexii: Not to answer a question with a question, but — just a question. What does it mean to you about, basically, feminism being labelled as white supremacy in heels? What does it mean to you? I’m really just learning all this, but what does that mean to you? What do you think that they have that stigma of? Because you remember I was saying that we have to learn about everything, and learn different aspects.
LAFP: I don’t think I’ve heard that exact terminology before, but I’ve heard versions of it. And it always — I understand why that would be a label that would be given to the contemporary feminism movement. The women that are spearheading it — their womanness is, of course, obscuring their goals in some way, whether it’s being oppressed by men, or sexual assault issues, or whatever it is… But when I picture contemporary feminism, I’m picturing, like, Reese Witherspoon. I’m picturing, like, very wealthy, successful white women who have a platform already and are using it to put on pink and boost up each other — which I don’t think is wrong, but I do think it’s pretty exclusive. So I could understand why it would come with a background of white supremacy. I also think that, especially in 2016 when the wave of feminist action was happening, it took a lot away from the Black Lives Matter movement that was already going on. It took a lot away from undocumented individuals that needed a voice at the time. I think that because a white woman is the closest you can get to being a white man, it was the easiest minority group for people to digest.
And I think that’s a downfall. It made it easier for the publicity, it made it easier for change to happen. But it didn’t remain inclusive. I wonder what the Black trans organizers and Black trans activists were doing when the Women’s Marches were happening. I wonder if they felt like they were included in that.
Lexii: I guess because of that gap — this word screams out “gap” to me, this word screams out “between.” This word screams out “diversity,” “not understood.”
I love hearing different people’s aspects. Everyone shouldn’t be the angry protester, also. Anything you’re fighting for. I’m upset and I do want to fight and I am mad that my trans sisters are dying, but if I can relay the message without ranting, because some people may not even hear you because you’re ranting and yelling. Just you talking the way you would talk, people would get the message.
Okay, we are still having a conversation, and your question to me still was how I feel about…
LAFP: Just your relationship to feminism. If you have one. And honestly, that in itself is interesting to me, because the concept that all women should be included in feminism proves to be faulty.
Lexii: There’s womanhood within all of us. There’s womanhood in the cisgendered community, there’s womanhood, of course, in the transgendered community. We all go through pain. We all bleed, because we all have blood and we’re all human. We all go through different things. You guys go through birth and giving life. Thank you, because somehow, a cis woman is involved in this community, because we wouldn’t be here, nine out of ten. Cis women, thank you for being here on earth because we love you because you made us.
But yes, I think that the transgender community are forgotten also. And there’s womanhood within all of us. We all have to go through struggles and pain to get where we need to be, whether it’s naturally or how we want to be, because we feel like we wasn’t assigned the right gender of some sort. And what does a real transgender honestly look like? There’s so many examples. What does a real cis woman look like? There’s so many examples. There’s beautiful blends of shapes, colors, and sizes, and that’s that. This is the world. This is the U.S.A. Unity, diversity — it’s supposed to be here.
I need everyone to accept that in all aspects of everything. Gender, visibility of whatever gender that you see or that you cannot.
LAFP: I hear in what you’re saying, too, what you said is that trans women feel forgotten in this womanhood and in this pain.
Lexii: Y’all bear children. I could never imagine. I’m not sure if we’ll ever generate a process where we can birth children also. As of now, you guys are going through the pain. Ouch, sorry, but thank you.
But we go through some pain, too, to get where we need. Thank you god, my body is completely natural, I won’t have to do too many things, but there’s still some tweaks and I will have to go through some pain and surgeries to get to where I need to be. But I’m glad to be the face of trans visibility if I can be. One of the faces. This is me.
When I’m walking down the sidewalk, leave me alone, I’m minding my business, so mind yours, let’s have a nice day. I want to go to the mailbox today, I have mail, because I’m a human, just like you. I don’t want to be brutalized, I don’t want to be profiled by police officers. These are some things that, honestly, you wouldn’t have to go through. These would be some things that I honestly wouldn’t have to worry about if I’m walking with another white cisgender woman, honestly. Because if they see that that white cisgender woman is okay, calm, and happy with this whatever-gender Black person that she’s with, they know that everything is great. And they’re gonna leave you alone. Despite the race of the police officer. It’s sad to say, but it’s really true. I’ve discussed this with other friends of mine that are other races, also, or lighter blends. I’m nine out of ten the darkest. And coming from being the darkest person, the darker, the deeper, honestly.
If I can make life easier for others and speak on it, make it better, I want to.