“It feels good to know that with this book more barriers are being broken, myths shattered, and history being made,” says Christian A’Xavier Lovehall, author of My Name Is Troy, a Black trans content creator living in Philadelphia. Known for his poetry and music career as WORDZ The Poet Emcee as well as founder of the Philly Trans March and the Free Ky Project, and facilitator of the TransMasculine Advocacy Network (TMAN), Lovehall self-published a children’s book for Black trans boys this past November as a way to “fill a void for young Black trans boys, who are too often ignored of made an afterthought.”
Writing for affirmation
The plan was to write a book focusing on the importance of his own identity and representation as a benefit for his book’s audience. Lovehall found this reflecting on his younger self and lack of his identity’s affirmation from his family. “Being affirmed as a trans youth would have improved my self-esteem.” Lovehall says.
In the interview, Lovehall noted that many parents refuse to acknowledge their trans children’s identity and he was no exception. “Growing up, my family saw my gender expression as a phase and I was labeled a tomboy,” Lovehall added. “For me, this book is about re-envisioning the love I wished I received as a child.”
Another issue Lovehall noticed was that the authors and characters in books like My Name Is Troy came mostly from a cisgender perspective, and many have only white characters. Lovehall teamed up with illustrator Chamar M. Cooper to create something that could authentically instill pride in young Black trans boys who can relate to Troy. These include breakdowns of gender roles and healthy kinds of Black masculinity.
“These messages I believe are important to learn at an early age when you’re a Black youth,” Lovehall says.
Lovehall dedicates his life to spreading messages of peace, love, and liberation “by any means necessary," and My Name Is Troy is an example. The story is of Troy, named after the character Troy from Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, a Black trans boy who is protected and loved by his family. “The name is just a personal homage to a beautiful and impactful moment from my childhood,” Lovehall says.
Lovehall’s book can be used as a literary role model Black trans boys but is also a tool that Black parents can use to learn more about their children’s gender identities.
What, Where, When, and Accessibility:
My Name Is Troy is available for purchase on the book website; Lovehall’s collection of poetry, Black, Trans, & Gifted, is available at various retailers. Lovehall cohosts virtual readings with organizations and groups such as Philadelphia Family Pride and Boston PFLAG.
Image Description: Christian A'Xavier Lovehall poses for a portrait. He's wearing earth-toned clothes, including a red and dark brown headscarf on his head and a necklace with a round pendant resting at his chest.