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Living and Performing ‘Femme Queen Joy’

Rosa Isabel Rayos, 28, is an Afro-Latina transgender rapper whose aim is to make music that uplifts, helps and encourages Black transgender girls — together with, at instances, herself.

“Everybody who raps only raps about what they know,” stated Ms. Rayos, who goes by Ms. Boogie when she performs. Her motive simply occurs to be very clear: to hook up with different trans individuals who want a reminder that they need to really feel security, love and pleasure.

“It’s imperative for me to center my work around spreading that ‘femme queen joy,’” Ms. Rayos stated. “It seems like the right thing to do, to create on an emotional level, to make the things I needed and continue to need to hear. I am gifting myself, too.”



Black transgender girls dwell below such fixed menace of violence that the American Medical Association declared the wave of murders of trans individuals final 12 months an “epidemic.” “We are at the very bottom of the totem pole,” Ms. Rayos stated, “right next to the cisgender Black woman.”

Media protection of trans life is minimal and normally depicts tragedies that stem from harassment and discrimination. This makes the uncommon constructive depictions of trans individuals all of the extra necessary, based on advocates for the trans group

Steven Canals, a creator, director and government producer of “Pose” — a tv present in regards to the L.G.B.T.Q. ballroom group in Eighties New York City that features trans cast members — recalled being approached by two younger Black trans girls, who have been extras, at some point on set.

“One of them grabbed my hand,” he stated. “With tears in their eyes, they were like, ‘As a young girl I had a desire to be an actor but because I’m Black and trans I always felt like that’s never going to happen for me. I let the dream go. Being here on this set has allowed me to dream again.’”

Raquel Willis, a transgender activist and a former nationwide organizer of the Transgender Law Center, additionally emphasised the significance of constructive popular culture and media illustration for trans individuals.

“When you have been so maligned and marginalized, you have no choice but to imagine a better world or imagine a fuller life because you have been forced to find that in some of the most difficult circumstances,” Ms. Willis stated. “We have to recreate ourselves, whether for ourselves or to navigate a world that it often feels like other people have tried to create for us.”

Born and raised within the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, Ms. Rayos started performing within the warehouse rave circuit in New York City six years in the past and discovered that she felt empowered onstage. She had beforehand walked in New York’s ballroom scene, and used that have to develop a definite physicality and presence that melded rap with ballroom. At the time, Ms. Rayos carried out below the title Jay Boogie.

As her recognition grew so did her success. She started touring to totally different cities and nations and was the topic of admiring profiles in Vice and different publications, however the life she was attending to expertise didn’t match how she felt.

“I was in a very divisive place in my life,” Ms. Rayos stated. “I was torn.”

Performing offered an outlet for her gender expression. “In many ways, before, it felt like getting ready for a performance and stepping into the glamour was an opportunity for me to feel closer to my womanhood,” she stated. “I would really look forward to it.”

In 2018, Ms. Rayos got here out publicly in a letter revealed in Paper Magazine, writing: “In a practical world, I would be a ‘trans woman,’ but in the world that I have built for myself and my loved ones, I am simply myself.”

What adopted, onstage, was a change to an effervescent performer that Ms. Rayos conjured by mixing a little bit of her mom’s tenacity, a punch of Grace Jones’s confidence and a number of spoonfuls of Foxy Brown’s Brooklyn pretty-girl aura.

The excessive self-assuredness she hopes to embody shouldn’t be meant to masks the truth of the risks she and different trans individuals face disproportionately within the United States and around the globe, however to fly within the face of it. “My joy and determination of self does not exempt me from being targeted in any way,” Ms. Rayos stated.

She does really feel an obligation to be taught the tales of different trans girls and to struggle for them, she stated. But she can also be engaged on letting herself benefit from the second. She has a brand new single, “Fem Queen,” an upcoming album, and was not too long ago featured in Vogue Mexico.

“I’m excited to just make things and continue to tell my story, to create more and give more gifts to some queens,” Ms. Rayos stated.

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