POSE, trans, surviving the HIV epidemic

On POSE, trans rights, and living as a trans woman in 2020 and beyond

By Cassie Brighter

After avoiding it for months, I was finally cajoled by my roommate to watch POSE.

The show POSE highlights the lives of trans women in Manhattan in 1987. It shows “mothers” (older trans women — and by older we mean twenties, since life expectancy was 35) and “the kids” — meaning homeless teens who have been thrown out of their homes for being queer. The show how the mothers took the kids in, helped them survive.

In 1985 I was eighteen years old. I walked those streets. I’ve been to those places. I had gone to the seedy peepshow porn places on 42nd street depicted in the show. I saw the trans women working the streets. I saw the homeless kids. I prayed (I believed in magic, back then), I prayed, “please, please let me not be one of THOSE people.”

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