‘Mama Gloria’ celebrates a Black transgender elder’s resilience and joy
The phrase “Black transgender elder,” for some, remains unthinkable. Gloria Allen is living proof that it’s indeed possible.
Many Black transgender women expect to die young because they face disproportionate levels of discrimination and hate violence, giving way to an epidemic of murders that have cut them down in their prime.
Yet in the new documentary feature “Mama Gloria,” Allen, a 75-year-old Black trans woman in Chicago, testifies to the strength and perseverance of a community caught at the intersection of race- and gender-based oppression. Her narrative is one of surviving with grace and dignity, and a model of possibility for trans people when they are loved and affirmed by their families.
In the 1950s, before the LGBTQ rights movement as we know it became mainstream — and before the term “transgender” entered the cultural lexicon — Allen’s family was ahead of the curve.