OluTimehin Kukoyi

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Transgender and gender non-conforming people know things about gender that most cisgender folks are light years away from realising. To survive unequal realities, marginalised folks often cultivate deep knowledge of how these realities actually function.

OluTimehin Kukoyi (née Adegbeye) (born 3 October 1991) is a Nigerian writer, essayist and public intellectual. Her work concentrates on questions of gender, sexuality, urbanism and feminism. She also writes fiction.


  • Unfortunately, hierarchies of human value also create hierarchies of knowledge. The people most likely to be marginalised by unjust social systems – and thus best placed to really understand them – are also those least likely to be considered credible “experts” on the subject. This is particularly true because the knowledge gleaned from marginalisation is invariably threatening to the system that produces it.
  • To create hierarchies of humanity, we must distort people. Dehumanisation thrives by making it difficult for those considered less than human to know themselves, or be properly known by others. The systems that produce racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and classism are built on such distortions. They are then maintained by ensuring that the distorted version of the dehumanised group is framed as “who they really are”. This type of misinformation is necessary for maintaining injustice. As long as we remain wilfully ignorant of who marginalised people are, we can claim legitimacy in denying their rights, dignity, and humanity. It’s the perfect vanishing spell.
  • Luckily, we don’t have to know everything about everyone’s realities to respect them, not tell lies about them, or believe that they know best what their needs are. We just need to do our bit to ensure they are able to lead dignified, free and safe lives, even when that bit is simply getting the hell out of their way. The root of respect is not the full understanding of other people; it is the recognition of people’s non-negotiable humanity. Regardless of our identities or how we navigate our different worlds, we all have the same rights to self-determine, live in community with others, enjoy access to the opportunities we need to survive, and write our own (magical) narratives. It can never be anyone’s place to tell another person or group of people that yielding space for their needs to be met is a danger to others. Only unrepentant bigotry results in such claims. By making respectful space for one another and learning from those who have the kinds of knowledge that we could never gain on our own, we become able to see all the different worlds that exist in this one that we share. And isn’t that the strongest magic of all?
  • Money is good. Imagination is better. Giving yourself permission to create a life that sustains you *no matter what others think* is best.
  • Freedom is the many faced god and queerness is its first born.

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