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Marsha’s Plate Serves it Up

Local podcast gives transgender people of color a seat at the table.

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Marsha’s Plate podcast hosts Diamond Stylz (l), Mia Mix, and Zahir “Zee” Raye.

In the podcast universe, where there are as many shows as there are stars in the sky, it can be challenging to find one that is truly unique. But Marsha’s Plate succeeds where other shows may stumble—by serving up the voices and perspectives of the transgender community with stories that are vitally important, but too rarely showcased.

“We are Marsha’s Plate, a progressive podcast hosted by three trans people of color,” says the show’s creator and producer, Diamond Stylz. “We wanted to create a show named after the pioneering Black trans-baddie Marsha P. Johnson, who shared [not only] the pressing disparities of the trans community, but also the victories and joys of our lives.”

Marsha P. Johnson is one of the most important figures in modern LGBTQ history, and is widely regarded as the woman who helped ignite the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. That summer rebellion is now commemorated with the annual LGBTQ Pride parades held in cities large and small throughout the country. In 2019, it was announced that Johnson and fellow trans-activist Sylvia Rivera would be immortalized with statues in Greenwich Village near the Stonewall Inn.

Stylz is joined weekly by Mia Mix and Zahir “Zee” Raye. The show launched in October of 2017 in response to the 2016 election, Stylz notes. During that time, the trio did not like how the media was portraying the trans narrative, nor its tendency to focus only on “bathroom bills” and the incessant fear-mongering around trans lives. The stories that were being told about trans people, but not by trans people, failed to acknowledge the very real and dynamic life experiences of their community.

“As poor, Black, trans people, we stand at the intersection of racial oppression, gender inequality, and the consequences of phobias of all of our identities. Our voices are often silenced in just as many intersectional ways,” Stylz says. “Podcasting gives us access to a global audience by bypassing the gatekeepers of traditional media who would otherwise shut us out of the social conversation—or, like in the 2016 presidential race, relegate us to dehumanizing [discussions about] bathroom bills or our body parts.”

The three podcast hosts are all millennials who represent the feminine and masculine sides of the trans experience. Stylz is a 25-year veteran Black trans activist who honed her activism as the first openly trans woman to attend Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. She is also the executive director of Black Transwomen, Inc., and a board member of Transfaith, a trans-led organization with a focus on supporting transgender spiritual and cultural leadership in the community.

The two other co-hosts of Marsha’s Plate are unique in their own right, according to Stylz. “Mia Mix is a biracial Houston socialite and model. Zee is an Afro-Latinx transman and working-class laborer and activist. We discuss pop culture, current events, sex, relationships, and gender every week,” Stylz notes.

One issue that the podcast hopes to address is the exhausting work involved in explaining and justifying the trans experience to well-intentioned (and sometimes not-so-well-intentioned) inquisitors. Trans people and people of color have to endure this kind of questioning on a regular basis.

“We know that everybody is not invited to the cookout, [so this podcast] is for us and by us,” Stylz says. “People can use our show as a resource to learn passively. It’s so easy and non-invasive—you just tune in, listen, and learn. Boom! That’s easy.”

Recent episodes have included a wide range of discussions such as dating, toxic femininity, or the effects of testosterone on the body. The show also offers lighter fare like entertainment reviews of shows like the popular FX series Pose. Listeners will not leave disappointed, and can count on learning something they didn’t know before tuning in.

“This is important work because it archives the current trans movement, spotlights activists doing amazing work, and highlights the news that impacts trans people’s lives around the globe—a narrative ignored by mainstream news outlets,” Stylz says.

Marsha’s Plate posts new episodes every Thursday to all of the main podcast streaming outlets, including iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud. Doing a simple search for the title will connect you to the show, where you can also subscribe to get notified when new shows are uploaded.

“Come join the conversation,” Stylz encourages. “Once you’re there, you can find out how to donate and support our growth and the grassroots activist work we do around the country.”

For more information on Marsha’s Plate, visit linktr.ee/MarshasPlate.

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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at www.medium.com/@ryan_leach.

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