Munroe Bergdorf Interview 

by Arsene Tsokeng

coat by Marc Jacobs, leggings by American Apparel ,Earrings by Ettika

Photographer: Emilio Hernandez

Styling: Rap Samiento

Makeup Artist : Raisa Flowers

Hair: Nathan Juergensen

What changes would you like to see made to the conversation we have around gender as a society?
I would like us as a society to realise that the conversations being had about gender identity involve everyone, not
just transgender people. I would like trans voices and experiences to be valued with the same respect that cisgender
voices are given. Lastly I would like more people to think outside their own experiences, just because you may not
feel a certain way about your own gender identity doesn’t mean that you can dictate how someone else should
identify, it’s a highly personal thing that no one can impose on anyone else.
These days young people are easily exposed to a broader array of people and identities through social
networks.

 

Do you believe there’s a generational gap in how accepting people are? if so how can we move
forward in bettering it?

I do think there is a generational gap, yes, younger generations seem to be less rigid in how the view gender,
sexuality and identity as a whole, they seem to be a lot more fluid in their approach. But I don’t think it’s JUST a
matter of a generational gap. But I don’t think it’s JUST a matter of a generational gap. It’s so important that we as
individuals question things, why has the heterosexual, cisgender, white, middle class identity been centered as “the
norm”, when the world is much more nuanced and diverse. So many people just accept what they have always
known, because unlearning is scary, but putting ourselves in uncomfortable dialogues is how we grow as people and
as a society.


As an activist which signifying moment in life has inspired you to stay strong through the challenges that
may come your way with this mission?

There’s been many, but I think seeing setbacks as blessings in disguise has been such a valuable tool. You can’t
always control what happens to you but you can control how you respond. Everything I’m doing is for the betterment
of my community, as long as I’m focused on my work and making sure I’m open as a human being and putting in the
work for my own growth, I should be able to handle whatever is thrown at me.


Are there any special individuals that have played an important role in your activism?
So many. Maya Angelou will always be a voice to guide me through hard times. Looking at pictures of Marsha P
Johnson always fills me with joy. From an early age, Cyndi Lauper taught me the importance of being an ally to less
privileged communities. Madonna taught me the importance of not giving a fuck.
Nowadays, the media seems more willing to focus on the issues like trans rights with a quite myopic feeling.


What do you feel is missing from it when it comes to discussion related to trans individuals?
It’s a shame that we only really see trans people in the media when we are either discussing our gender, defending
our gender, playing a trans character or speaking about identity. I would like trans people to start being given the
same opportunities as our cis siblings, because at the moment it feels like we are only being presented with the
illusion of inclusivity. I want trans television presenters, roles where a trans actor can play a character who doesn’t
need to make their gender identity a big deal. I would like trans men and nonbinary people to be given the spotlight.
Many trans women of colour are being killed in America, with the media doing very little press on this issue.


Do you think the LGBTQIA+ community is being vocal enough in their support towards trans people of
colour?

I feel that parts of the LGBTQIA+ community are being vocal but largely it seems that it’s queer people of colour who
are making the most noise. It’s so heartbreaking to see a sister lose her life week after week and her life not be given
the same respect as a cisgender white person. If these women were white and cisgender there would be outrage, it
would be considered a critical situation. But because these women are black and transgender there is significantly
less care or interest and it’s heartbreaking. We need EVERYONE to speak up, regardless of gender, race, class or
sexuality, we all deserve to be safe and to live our lives how we want, without fear of being murdered for who we are.


What advice would you give to young activists starting out on a journey of transformation?

Take you time and don’t rush into anything. Think about what your activism looks like as it can take many forms. Use
what you’re good at. For me it’s public speaking and media based. But it doesn’t need to take that route. Are you an
organiser? Or you a protestor? Are you an artist? Are you a consultant? Are you a volunteer? There are many cogs
within activism, but we’re all working towards the same goal.


What impact would you like to leave in the LGBTQIA+ community?
I just want to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to stand up for what they felt was fair and just - and
hopefully as someone who inspired others to do the same.