Racquelle Trammel Gets ‘Mouthy’ About Trans Rights, HIV Advocacy—And Wins The Spirit of Detroit Award

“Vivacious” is one way to describe Spirit of Detroit Award winner Racquelle Trammel—which, of course, lends itself to podcasting. And her podcast, “Miss Mouthy,” came from people noticing that very trait.

“I was facing some challenges during the pandemic. I knew I had a lot to say, but I had no one to say it to,” she recalled in a phone interview with the Michigan Chronicle. She started “Miss Mouthy” in February 2020. “So, I thought ‘Let me try this podcasting thing out and see how that goes.’

“I started doing a few episodes, then I stopped because it was something to do and the world opened back up a little bit. Then people started wondering, “What happened to that girl that was talking all that mess? She needs to come back!”

For Trammel, a Black trans woman, podcasting became a thing. “I know how podcasting made me feel: natural and therapeutic.”

“Empathetic” is another way to describe her, too. Also add “for the culture.” She started “Miss Mouthy” during Black History Month 2020 because she wanted first episodes “to be rooted in Blackness.” And she wanted trans people to be the focus and Detroit to be the base of the shows.

“People really don’t expect great things to come out of Detroit. And I know all of the great men and women who come out of Detroit, and I didn’t like how media was portraying trans individuals. So, I created my own lane so I could express these narratives and give these people the opportunity to tell their own stories in the way they want to tell them.”

Trammel’s first guest was Shauntrelle Blu, another Black trans woman who started Rich Bitch Water, an all-vegan, all-organic face-mist business. And having Blu on “Miss Mouthy” was a natural match.

“It checked all the boxes for me. It showed me that another woman is willing to work with me in the industry and see my vision, and I wanted to support her as well. Seeing Black [trans] women in the beauty industry was remarkable for me — Blu having her own product. It worked; it clicked.”

And that motivated Trammel to find more trans people doing the thing.

The latest episode of “Miss Mouthy” is called “Untucking.” It featured a local trans male activist named Eli, who talked about “all the mess trans men have to deal with when it comes to reproductive rights, how they show up in the world. But the episode was also “about me being vulnerable to ask these questions,” Trammel said.

“In our own community, we make these assumptions, then we do more harm when we don’t have those uncomfortable conversations. It was really great to be in his presence and show that men and women can not only talk about our experiences, but also learn from and support each other.”

For her efforts, “Miss Mouthy” was named one of ““Top 50 Transgender Podcasts You Must Follow in 2021” by Detroit’s Love Her Collective.

As for Trammel getting the Spirit of Detroit Award, she was still in shock. She found out about the award because she just happened to need a photo from an old phone. A friend of hers, T.J. Rogers, told her that she was receiving the award.

“It was such an honor because it seems, in media, like you have to be a big force, have a huge following, or look a certain way, especially in the advocacy sector here in Detroit,” she said. “Colorism plays a big part, and playing polite in politics plays a big part. I show up in a space of what I call my ‘own-ness.’ To be recognized by my own hometown in that was something beautiful.”

When Trammel accepted the Spirit of Detroit Award, she namechecked Black trans foremothers Ahya Simone and Bre Rivera who started advocacy work in Detroit but didn’t receive recognition because their politics “needed to be aggressive” so the Black trans community could get the resources they needed. In the process, Trammel said, other trans women of color benefitted from Simone’s and Rivera’s work yet don’t acknowledge them.

Trammel said she also accepted the award on behalf of her mother and her seven-year-old daughter and other young girls.

“I want them to see value when they look in the mirror and seize every opportunity because you don’t know where it will come from. Every opportunity that’s given to me, including the Spirit of Detroit Award, I treat with the same level of respect and gratitude and honor. It keeps manifesting into something else, and you’ll never know where you’ll be.”

Trammel’s accolades also come being named Trans Artist of the Year in 2021 by the I Am Human Foundation and one of POZ 100’s top advocates for her work in HIV communities in 2019 and 2021. POZ Magazine, which created the recognition, is a publication for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

“If I’m being candid, though, I think advocacy in the Black community is performative nowadays,” she said. “The recognitions are great but, as I tell people, when you do this work with purpose, those things are going to come, and your moment will be your moment.”

For Trammel, doing HIV work was her recognizing her privilege and using it to have difficult conversations in order to minimize the stigma around the condition so her counterparts don’t have to. That includes disclosing their HIV status “just to live,” Trammel said.

“I’ve always been passionate about the issue. HIV has been around me coming into the community, so I felt I had to do it. It’s humbling. I do the work just in case I become my own statistic, and I’m going to educate myself so I know how to live a long and healthy life.”

Her biggest push nowadays is to get everyone tested and get on PReP and that “people’s attractionality changes throughout people’s journeys and they’ll still be Black. I want to be able to prepare people to be able to have those choices no matter what their identity or attraction changes to.”

When it comes to the intersections of reproductive rights, rights for trans people, HIV advocacy and how people can participate in some sort of activism in light of the current waves of anti-trans laws, Trammel said, “I think if we give equity to everybody with the understanding that people might need different things–especially in underserved communities—make it an adjustable practice for all.”


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