Whether it's about beauty, relationships, or one of Detroit's up-and-coming entrepreneurs, Miss Mouthy is her name and on her podcast, she'll talk about it all. But as existing fans know, "Miss Mouthy" goes deeper than an everyday lifestyle chat show. Mouthy is the alter-ego of Racquelle Trammell who began broadcasting in 2020 as a way of highlighting both her own life and the voices and experiences of other transgender women of color in the city of Detroit. Above everything else, it exists to provide a platform for trans women to talk about their own lives on their own terms.
"Outside of the violence that we face, the homelessness being a big issue, trauma being something we experience, I thought that bringing awareness to the resources that I know trans women need, [and this] was the only way I knew how. And I also do it by highlighting young entrepreneurs coming out of that," Trammell said. "Now, I'm more intentional about what content I'm putting out and what I can do to give my community [a variety of] resources, [like] if you don't know where to go if you've got a child with special needs or if you need a doctor to put you on hormone replacement therapy."
Since her show began, Trammell has featured local trans activists like Fair Michigan's Julisa Abad, shared resources for Detroit trans women facing hardship due to COVID-19 and explored the intricacies of dating while trans. She caught up with Pride Source over the phone to talk about her inspiration for the podcast, upcoming projects, why she came back after a brief hiatus from the show and why it's vital that trans women of color have a platform to share their stories.
Where did the name "Miss Mouthy" come from?
"Miss Mouthy" came from people always letting me know that I talk too much, if I'm really being honest. And, oftentimes, we associate young girls or women with being very chatty as if it's a negative thing when, honestly, it's about being expressive and honest and vulnerable. I wanted to use that negative in a way that really signifies that it's OK to have conversation. And it's OK to talk and be honest and transparent about whatever it is. And Snapchat had this filter a long time ago that would highlight your mouth, and people often talk about my lips, so it just seemed suitable to name myself Miss Mouthy.
When did you start the podcast?
Originally, I started it Feb. 1 . I went and recorded it, but I didn't put the episode out until Feb. 3 of last year because of fear. Especially as a trans woman of color, I was afraid of standing in my greatness and not coming from a place of fear.
You've been creating your podcast for a year now. What has that taught you?
In the beginning, it was very hard. In the beginning, you don't know where to start and you don't know what to talk about. And then your podcast brings life into itself. One thing that I learned was that you can't compare yourself to anybody else. You have to be rooted in what it is you want to talk about. And, for me, it was imperative that I highlighted from my experiences. Often, when I started, people would be like, "Oh, your podcast is really cool, but do you have to talk about trans stuff all the time or things related to trans women?" Yeah, because how many platforms do we have where we are behind the creative direction and we control the narrative and we talk from our own experiences? And it's only myself and another young lady, that I'm aware of, that have a podcast that really tries to get at the [core] of [trans experience]. What I don't like is when the media outlets that are out there talk about trans people in the way of death. It somehow always gets back to a deadname or the mentioning of an individual in ways that I don't like.
Given the circumstances of 2020, what were some challenges you faced while making "Miss Mouthy"?
Right in the beginning when I started COVID happened, and then I had to really think, "What does this mean? Do you give up? Do you stop?" I would say to anybody that it's OK to be honest with your ability, to show up and be creative. That's when I learned how much trauma trans women actually face. I was going through my own personal encounters while trying to produce this podcast, so when I stopped and took a break, I didn't know I had a following. So when people were like, "Wait, we're waiting on 'Miss Mouthy.' What's going on?" I felt obligated to come back and finish. There is a need, and somebody appreciates my perspective and what I'm trying to accomplish.
Has anything surprised you since you started this podcast?
You may not know necessarily what your gifts are, and, once you learn that, it doesn't have to look like everybody else — you stay in your creative lane and you trust yourself. If you trust yourself and that want to connect with people, then stand in that. And that's what "Miss Mouthy" is. It's me wanting to connect with people and being interested in people's stories and putting love and compassion and humility onto it.
Detroit is also a unique place to have this podcast because not so long ago the city had one of the highest rates of murder targetting trans women of color in the U.S. When you started thinking about elevating the voices of your guests and yourself, what issues did you really want to highlight?
A lot of things that came up for me was, one, around the sense of community. I feel like we are displaced and not really able to connect. So, first of all, it's a culture of Black women or trans women getting together and not being able to put their defenses down and just come and have transparent conversation. But then COVID happened, and it made even more distance between people being able to connect. So, a podcast can really connect people even when we're not in the same space. When I thought about the violence that trans women face here in the city of Detroit and how alarming it was, I definitely felt like I have a responsibility to highlight the lives of the people and who knew these women in ways that media don't. Fifteen seconds of being like, "A transgender woman found," that's not highlighting the life and experiences of the people that love her and putting humanistic value on her. I thought about the experiences of me and my close friends sitting around and converse about the men that are enamored with us. We never really talk about those issues. We never invite how inferior being connected, oftentimes, to a cisgender woman makes us feel. And why is there is no positive representation of trans women being loved in mainstream society?
So, I think it's more important not just for me to say what I think but for women in the community to share their own experiences because everything looks different behind the lenses that you're looking [through]. It's an archive for me. There's a lot of amazing women in Detroit that do a lot of work, but because we don't always relish in the safe spaces, how do we highlight those? And because our life expectancy is so short, I never wanted an opportunity to pass where a woman can draw from her own experience. So, not only is my podcast highlighting that but it's archiving our history of trans women. That's the things I've learned: how to build community, how to give women a voice and, honestly, just set the conversation. We don't always have to agree, but I think something beautiful happens when difficult conversations or uncomfortable conversations happen.
What's an upcoming project you're working to highlight?
Right now, I'm working on how stigmatizing people are about sex work. I'm in the process of working on that episode. I was supposed to put it out a while ago, but I didn't want to rush it. I felt like this was a topic that needed more time being highlighted in a lot of honesty and with a lot of different perspectives, because I think that conversation brings up a lot of moral standpoints for people. And it's not coming from a perspective like mine. I didn't have that experience, but just because you don't have that experience does not mean you shy away from the topic itself. So, I just let the community teach me and educate me. What I've learned is to sit back and listen and allow people to show up in spaces where I don't have to be an expert. I'm not even a podcast expert, but I'm a person who has a platform that now I'm trying to use for the greater good. I've learned that you don't have to rush your content. You don't have to put it out just because it's due every Monday. Pivot. Switch it up. Do something a little light, and really give light to something that people can say, "You know what, I'm proud that she told it from my perspective." Or, "I'm proud that she told me that it's OK to disagree." That's what I'm working on: listening more and allowing the truth to reveal itself.