This essay explores relationships between southern black queer experience, grassroots activism, and the literacies of southern culture through a case study of “Ella Mosley,” a 56-year-old black transgender woman activist living in the South. Out of the misuses of literacy—the ways oppressive agents appropriate literacy to the detriment of an individual or community—manifests a mandate and an occasion for social action, identity formation, and affirmation. The rhetorical strategies employed in Mosley's activism are linked to her literacies of southern culture and its impact on her sense of self, both of which she draws on in her resistance to anti-transgender rhetorics and policies effecting transgenders in her city, “Soulapoliz,” and throughout the United States. The essay also depicts the usefulness of literacy as a lens on everyday sites of black queer resistance and self-making.
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