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Queen Latifah Talks Gender Identity And Finding The 'Freedom to Be Me'

The media icon says she “had to be told” she was a girl.

At TheGrio Awards in Beverly Hills, California, Queen Latifah opened about finding freedom in her identity.

According to PEOPLE, the recipient of the Television Icon award said in her acceptance speech, "It all starts with the family for me. My parents raised me with the idea that Black is beautiful. Black is beautiful, Black is beautiful. Black is okay. You start saying it enough and you start believing me. And so I didn't realize at the time that what they were preparing me for was a whole world."

The 54-year-old continued, "I didn't know I was a girl, initially, I had to be told that. That had to be explained to me…. 'Cause I was running around with my T-shirt off like the boys … I wanted to play the sports and all these things had to be explained to me because I was free."

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She also added, "And so my whole life would feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me."

According to Latifah, she knows now who she is and is proud of it.

“I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to, because that’s part of me. I play in the dirt, I play basketball with the boys — ’cause that’s me. I love who I love because that’s me. I know me. I know what I’ve done and what I haven’t done,” she said during the acceptance speech.

“I realize that life is fleeting and you just gotta do the best you can,” the Equalizer actor added. “Be as honest and genuine as you can. Don’t go for what people are trying to tell you about yourself. It’s not true. I said, don’t go for what people are trying to tell you about yourself.”

Previously, Latifah has revealed how she learned the difference between health and body size and that, throughout her career, she’s learned to advocate and promote herself in professional settings when her health is not necessarily a priority to others.

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