Black trans activist Malik, also known as their artist alias Marikiscrycrycry, is a New Yorker in London who knows transphobia is a global issue.

From queer bashing on the streets of Brooklyn to harassment on London buses, Malik spoke to PinkNews about the constant pressure to “put on a hard face” when a stranger is “so disgusted by your presence, they shout at you.”



Malik, who identifies as non-binary, explained: “Once I was with my bosses in Brooklyn, we were walking from lunch back to the office and there was a car driving past. Someone turned down the window and just shouted ‘Ew.’

“In New York it might seem more constant because New Yorkers, or people in the US, are more direct and say whatever comes to mind, which is not my experience of living in England. So when something is direct, it’s super shocking.

“There definitely is a contrast in my experiences navigating New York and London.

“The biggest issue in England is people really shy away from things they don’t understand. Things like Genderquakethese people are not coming from a place of wanting to understand but already deciding that transness is not OK and we have to defend our right to exist.

“In order for us to meet, you have to be open to meet us. We exist, we have always existed and we will always exist. And that’s not up for debate. So it’s about how we can make these spaces safer for us to navigate.”

The day before being interviewed by PinkNews, Malik says they were harassed while on a bus in London. The most frightening part of the ordeal, was that no-one stepped it to stop it.

“In that moment, I wanted to cry, and feel sad that this has actually happened, and I can’t actually do that.

“When I was getting attacked on the bus yesterday, no-one did anything. It was happening for quite a long time, we were on a packed bus in rush hour but we were just left to deal with it on our own.

“I was just so shocked, that no-one was helping, that the person who was bashing us is continuing to do that, and then you have to formulate a response.”

“Someone was so disgusted by my presence that they would seek to attack me and my friends like that, in such a public space, and then I felt sad that I couldn’t be in touch with my own feelings about the violence but had to put on a hard face,” Malik continues.

Watch Malik’s video interview above (PinkNews)

“I can’t even be human in that moment—I have to be complicit in the violence, in my own dehumanisation. There’s a feeling that we can’t stop it, we can’t do anything, and I just find that really sad.

“While the violence did not materialise in a physical way, it doesn’t always end that way. This is how these situations start.

“We had to switch buses but had we stayed there, who knows what would have happened?

“The fact that no-one said anything is testament to how people view black queer lives. It was very stark.”

Malik is very clear that the transphobia they experience is entirely intertwined with anti-blackness—and the UK is no exception.

“England is just as racist as the United States,” they said.

“I think we have this expectation that it’s better over here and exceptionalise the US as a particularly bad example for racism and violence and police brutality. But it’s actually so shocking how similar those things are over here: deportation, family separations, anti-black violence by police.

“All these things are happening in London all the time, I’ve seen them happen. Here, we’re just more reluctant to talk about it.”

This lack of conversation and de-centring of black voices prevents society dismantling transphobia as well, they point out.

“We’re always being misgendered” (PinkNews)

“If we’re going to talk about queerness and gender performance and not talk about black bodies or centre black bodies, I don’t see where that conversation is going,” Malik added.

“Especially if I think about trans-exclusionary radical feminists, they’re just racist as well as transphobic at the end of the day.

“The people who suffer the most from this fallout and this rhetoric are black trans women who are getting murdered and black queer trans people who are getting bashed on the bus—that is not a universal experience, you know.

“If we’re not going to centre black voices in the conversation about what it means to be non-binary or trans, then to me it’s just another racist system. We’ve got to centre black trans voices and experiences when we talk about gender.

“We have this image, especially in a lot of queer circles, that non-binary is white.

“People don’t really see that black people have gender performativity that go way back before colonisation and European categorisation, and in fact we’re always being misgendered.

“Everyone black I know has been misgendered.”

Despite encountering constant queer bashing and anti-blackness in both cities, Malik isn’t deterred: They are proud to be a “faggot.”

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“I’m happy to be a faggot—I’m so happy about it actually because we’re visionary, you know. We’re shifting conversations, we’re shifting boundaries, just by existing.

“I would wish nothing other thing than to be black. I love my skin. I love the fact that when I walk into a homogenous space—as they do exist in England, surprisingly, as they colonised half the word—that people shift, people look, people get nervous.

“I’m happy to be a faggot” (PinkNews)

“To me, that’s power. I didn’t even do anything and you’re scurrying to work out what to do with yourself. Black people are visionary—in every country we exist, we’re changing up the landscape.

“All of the collective bulls**t we’ve had to put up with throughout history, that strength gets passed on. And we’re not going anywhere, no matter what.

“We’re constant subjects of legislations, constant subjects of violence, yet we’re still here, we don’t give up, we bash back. And that is so remarkable.”

Currently an artist-in-residence at the Tate galleries in London, Malik is also a choreographer under the alias Marikiscrycrycry.

They explained: “Marikiscrycrycry initially began as a project for me to work around what it means to be black and queer, in ways that are political, humanises the black body and rejects violence gazes on the black experience or expectations of what a black body should do on stage.”

Malik’s new upcoming solo show He’s Dead explores violence against black bodies, using TuPac’s life as an example to talk about “the f***ed up reality of being black in the United States.”

He’s Dead is happening on September 20, 2018, as part of the New Queers on the Block programme run by the Marlborough Theatre in Brighton.




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