Bringing Awareness to the TGI Experience Favorite 



Jul 29 2012


Chicago IL

Kokumo, pronounced "koh-koo-mah", is a trans gender activist whose very name embodies her bold path of resistance. Taken from the West African dialect Yoruba, Kokumo means "this woman will not die." Kokumo chose her name in response to constantly being told that she would die of AIDS while growing up.

Today, the young woman has founded a multimedia production called KOKUMOMEDIA, which uses film, music and literature to share the TGI (trans, gender non-conforming and intersex) experience with a broader public. With a particular focus on trans women of color, KOKUMOMEDIA aims to serve as both catalyst and incubator, inviting people to "party, protest, commune and create."

One example of how KOKUKOMEDIA is giving a platform to these voices is Trans* Pride, an event that happened in Chicago's Union Park on July 29th, 2012. As the world's first TGI State of the Union address, the event was about "making demands and having them heard."

Understanding the activist power of art, Kokumo intends to change media representations of trans women and women of color. Reflecting on the representations she saw as a child, Kokumo says "I remember my first recollections, or depictions, of trans* women were on Maury and Jerry Springer. And that informed me what a trans* woman was and therefore being a trans* woman, I didn't want to be one, because I didn't want to be that fool on television. And that's the power of media. Media controls how people view other people. And when you look at the fact so much of media is controlled by the people in the top tier of society, it proves my point even better."

In addition to diversifying representations of TGI people, Kokumo wants to use her company to advocate for TGI rights. As she convincingly states, "all I really see [currently], media wise, are the struggles of gay, white men. Marriage equality: I don't really think that that's something the majority of the black, queer community is supporting. Of course we want it, but we also want jobs. We also want affordable housing. We also want education. We also want healthcare. We also want to live in communities that aren't poverty ridden, or dilapidated."

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