ACTION CALL #13: No Pride Without Justice For All

Photo by Kelly A. Burkhardt/Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs

Mesha. Jamie. JoJo. Tiara. Chyna. Caira. Jaquarrius.

Chances are that you don’t know these names. They belong to a few of the 13 trans women murdered already in 2017. Nearly every single one is a woman of color. Most are Black women. Their murders often go unnoticed and unreported. Today, to be a trans woman of color — in particular, a Black trans woman — is tantamount to a death sentence. Worldwide, a trans woman is killed every 29 hours. Trans women have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, and if you’re a trans woman of color, that chance rises to 1 in 8. The majority of trans women of color who are murdered are Black women. This is a state of emergency for trans women — and Black trans women in particular. This is urgent. As Staceyann Chin says in her poem All Oppression is Connected about fighting for LGBTQ+ communities of color: The time to act is now!

Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. These are the foremothers of the modern-day queer rights movement. Like the women above, they are trans women. In its inception, the queer rights movement was not characterized by beer and vodka sponsorship and whitewashed Pride parades with police protection. It was characterized by fire hoses turned on people in the street, gay cheerleaders, and cries of “Occupy — Take Over!” Pride marches. Today, parades everywhere have been co-opted by corporations and police that have harmed the QTPOC community. And when QTPOC demand that the larger (white) LGBTQ+ community recognize and acknowledge this erasure and racial violence, they are attacked, arrested, and persecuted by the very community who is supposed to be supporting them. Within this community, it’s also important for us to realize that being a QTPOC comes with different challenges than being a QPOC. Transgender people are not only disproportionately the target of violence, but it’s Black trans women in particular who bear the brunt of brutal attacks and murders.

And make no mistake, our LGTBQ+ community is still under attack. In just one recent example of many, protesters were violently arrested at the Columbus, Ohio Pride parade. But we are also under attack from within as QTPOC and QPOC fight to be seen as fully equal even within the queer rights movement. In response to extensive and blatant racism in the queer community in Philadelphia, the city unveiled a new Pride flag with two additional colors — black and brown — adding to the iconic rainbow. The response to this from the white gay community has highlighted the deep racism and white supremacy that divides the queer community and marginalizes our most powerful and vulnerable voices.

We also continue to fail LGBTQ+ children — especially our children of color — as students in schools that lack the supports they need. One study found that the majority of LGBTQ youth of color have been victimized at school and are more likely than their white counterparts to have attempted suicide. To put it bluntly, our failure is literally killing our youth.

Moreover, the current administration attacks us daily. In a shocking move, six members of the HIV/ AIDS advisory board quit in protest because the current President doesn’t care about the health and lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. In appalling testimony to Congress, Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, refused to commit to protecting students based on sexual orientation and gender identity; publicly funded schools could be allowed to discriminate. Trump has broken with tradition and failed to recognize Pride Month during June, while VP Mike Pence is “celebrating” by giving a speech at an anniversary celebration of Focus on the Family — an organization that is homophobic and anti-family.

Despite the attacks on so many fronts, there is hope. Queer POC and trans folks, especially Black trans woman, are demanding to be seen and listened to. In Washington DC, we saw a powerful display of this when the organization “No Justice, No Pride” shut down the corporate, whitewashed DC Pride parade and reclaimed it. Black Lives Matter and Trans Liberation Collective have also successfully protested, blocked, and disrupted Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle Pride marches to call attention the hypocrisy of police presence at these events.

It’s now time to take back a movement birthed by trans women of color. It’s time to recenter the stories, struggles, and celebrations of the most marginalized in our community — LGBTQ youth of color, trans and non-binary folks, in particular Black trans women, and QPOC. As we wrap up June Pride Month, let’s remember that the call is a simple one — there can be “no pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”

ACTIONS

Know your rights, stay safe, and stop the violence — lives are at stake:

  • Eighteen states and DC have laws that prohibit discrimination against transgender people. At least 200 cities and counties have passed similar laws. If your city or state isn’t on this list from the ACLU, demand that your lawmakers protect the lives and livelihoods of trans people. Find out where your local representatives stand on LGBTQ issues through this database from the Human Rights Campaign and then use this guide from TransEquity to talk to your Member of Congress.
  • Stand up to police harassment of transgender people by filing complaints with your police department’s Civilian Complaint Review Board or Internal Affairs Bureau. If you’ve faced or witnessed anti-transgender violence, call Lambda Legal’s Help Desk. Keep this toolkit from Lambda Legal handy.
  • Report violence, get support, and receive legal help from the Anti-Violence Program (AVP), which is dedicated to LGBTQIA+ advocacy, education, and support for victims and survivors of violence. Find your local member organizations.
  • Document incidents of hate threats and violence through Communities Against Hate. Get information on legal services, survivor assistance, medical and mental health services here.
  • Stop anti-trans bills before they have a chance to become law. Sign up to get alerts when urgent action is needed in your state.

Protect, support, and build community power:

Love and nurture community with affirmation and amplification of QTPOC in the arts:

Be vocal and visible with support — general tips for authentic LGBTQIA+ allyship:

Celebrate authentic Pride — all year long:

  • Remember and honor the lives of trans people who have been murdered. Visit Mic.com’s Erased: Counting Transgender Lives.
  • Stand up against hate crimes during QTPOC events by putting your body on the line and guarding safe spaces.
  • Watch this video for more background on why corporate sponsorship linked to mass incarceration and deportations should not represent the spirit of Pride.
  • Follow No Police In Pride from Black Lives Matter Vancouver, and read the talking points on why police presence in Pride, an event founded on protest, is a symbol of oppression and brutality.
  • Join or financially support Black and Latinx Pride events across the country.

Keep this list handy for more advocates, supports, and resources for LGBTQIA+ people of color:

DONATIONS

Donate to these organizations fighting for the rights and lives of LGBTQ+ people of color.

  • No Justice No Pride is a collective of organizers and activists from DC working to make local Pride responsive to the most marginalized — Black, Latinx, Muslim, indigenous, disabled queer and trans folks — of the LGBTQ community. With media, lobbying, and protest, No Justice No Pride is putting on the pressure to eliminate anti-gay and transphobic sponsors, boards, and other representatives from participation in organizing and representing Pride events. No Justice No Pride exists “to end the LGBT movement’s collusion with systems of oppression that further marginalizes queer and trans individuals.” Make a donation here.
  • National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a leading national Black LGBTQ civil rights organization. They focus on federal policy advocacy and leadership to ensure racial justice for LGBTQ communities of color. Among their focus issues is transgender equality, partnering with other lead organizations to collect and analyze national on the intersections of Black and LGBTQ people’s lived experiences. Read more on the findings and reports on transgender equality and get involved with these actions to help advance the cause and strengthen Black families. Make a donation here.
  • Many organizations suggest supporting local LGBTQ/POC-led organizations. This Huffington Post article is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for an organization to support near you. Broken down by state, this list helps you find organizations in your state or local area that directly benefit QTPOC during Pride season and beyond. Make a donation (or two, or ten!) to organizations that impact your local QTPOC community.

You can support our work financially here: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/solidaritywoc

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A collective voice for women of color solidarity and liberation. Warding against the sunken place. Not here for delusional Becky or Chad the Explainer.

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