Racialicious

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations. If you've been on the blog, you know how this Tumblr works, too. Including the moderation policy.
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Posts tagged "trans women of color"

After watching the film I was struck by the undeniable power of testimony, the collective narrative of being unapologetically yourself and the fact that despite the unifying acronym there is not one LGBT experience. And that’s a good thing. Yet, I did feel lonely being the only trans person in the documentary, which is poignantly representative of the movement’s current focus that tends to see trans people as an afterthought, a gesture of inclusivity.

One person cannot represent anyone but themselves. The burden of representation is too heavy for one to carry. My journey isn’t reflective of all trans women, men and people’s lives (for example I say “fully transitioned” in the film, which varies for all trans people, and refer to my relationship with my body as “the wrong equipment” – some feel theirs is in fact “right”). The number of people of color featured is wonderful and so is the fabulousness of drag legend Lady Bunny (who adamantly points out drag queens’ and street people’s – let’s not forget about trans women’s – presence at the Stonewall Riots) and Twiggy Pucci Garcon (who represented the ball community and mentioned my legendary sisters there) – all of which helps diversify the portrait of race and gender.

I still find myself struck by the fact that I, this brown trans girl from Kalihi, a low-income, resilient town in Honolulu, was sharing cinematic space with groundbreakers, from Ellen DeGeneres and Wanda Sykes to Larry Kramer and Lupe Valdez. It dawned on me as I sat down in that dark theater that my life, my story, a snapshot of my existence will forever be archived as part of our movement.

A little girl growing up like I did will be able to see herself in this film. She will not have to hunt down the footage, like my dear sister Reina Gossett had to when she sought and uncovered footage of Sylvia Rivera at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally. This will be on HBO, not hidden in archives or blazed into the faulty memory bank of witnesses.

Personal stories are vital to culture change and I believe that this film will be pivotal to changing people’s perceptions about the LGBT community, but personal narratives are not everything. True progress occurs when we’re able to contextualize our personal experiences and come to the realization that we are part of a movement of people struggling with similar and dissimilar systemic oppressions.

As reported in Vanity Fair, the fight for marriage was a major catalyst for the creation of this project. And it’s with a note of bittersweetness that I celebrate the premiere of this film and the striking down of DOMA. The freedom to marry is important (it took decades of organizing, movement resources and millions of dollars), as I said on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry (clip embedded below) on Saturday, but so are daily access issues that low-income, homeless, incarcerated, HIV-living, immigrant, jobless and LGBT communities of color face, which frankly are not sexy issues that make passersby feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And these issues don’t garner the same resources and media focus as marriage.

I own that ‘Supermodel’ CD and used to once upon a time like RuPaul, but excuse me if I and other transpeople aren’t jumping with joy over the coronation of Ru in that Tracey Ross article as some sort of 21st century gender warrior or trans expert.

It really pisses us Black trans women off that you give RuPaul Andre Charles (and Tyler Perry dressed as Madea) more love and respect than you do the average Black transwoman struggling to live their lives and interact with the Black cis and SGL communities without major drama.

RuPaul is a Black gay man, not a transperson, and the trans community is beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of him being elevated by cis and gay people to some nebulous ‘trans expert’ level..

As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I became a trans activist in 1998 was because of a Transgender Tapestry magazine article in the 90’s that ignorantly considered RuPaul and Dennis Rodman as Black transwomen juxtaposed against other accomplished white trans people despite both Ru and Dennis Rodman emphatically saying they weren’t trans and didn’t want to transition.

It was the epiphany that made me realize just how invisible Black transwomen were in the trans human rights movement and gave me the impetus to get involved and change that dynamic.

Monica Roberts, “Why I Can’t Stand RuPaul,” TransGriot 1/30/13

At the Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Victoria Ortega, 33, focuses on women’s health, HIV prevention, beautification, and safety. As a transgender woman and community organizer, she actively incorporates LGBTQ issues into her community-building in the neighborhood.

Ortega has built a great nonprofit career for herself and recognizes the employment and career limitations transgender women face. “There is a lack of leadership-building for trans women,” she says.

Latino/a transgender people often live in extreme poverty. According to a National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) survey, twenty-eight percent of transgender Latinos reported a household income of less than $10,000 a year, which is nearly double the rate for transgender people of all races, more than five times the general Latino/a population rate, and seven times the general U.S. population rate. For non-citizen Latino/a participants, the poverty rate was 43 percent. The unemployment rate for Latino/a transgender people is 20 percent.

When Alexis Martinez, 63, came out in 1998, her successful printing business began to suffer because she was losing clients. She says she was also harassed by workers because of her gender identity.

Martinez says she was aware of her gender identity from a very early age. “When I was four years old, I knew what I was,” she says. At nineteen Martinez began taking hormones, but she stopped at the age of 29. As a result, she became depressed and battled alcoholism and cocaine addiction until she resumed hormone treatments at the age of 43.

“There are multiple challenges– housing, jobs, and medical care– exacerbated in the trans community,” Martinez says.

Erika L. Sánchez, “Transgender Latin@s Forge Their Own Path, Help Others,” NBC Latino 1/4/13
(Image: “Still Wading” by K. Ryan Ziegler for Strong Families)

For reproductive justice advocates of color, the strategic act of centering Roe v. Wade can be useful in that it provides a documented history of resistance against a medical industry driven by pharmaceutical genocide. However, because this framework privileges a concept of “woman” concerned primarily with abortion access, it advances a dangerous narrative that erases the multiple ways that generations of trans women of color have also organized around similar issues of reproductive oppression. Specifically, the right of an individual to exercise control and fight for the safety of their bodies despite their gender and sexuality.
Becoming mindful of the historical activism of trans women of color prior to Roe v. Wade, offers the potential for making a significant impact when organizing for reproductive rights. Their experience of injustice might extend far beyond safe access to abortions, still, it is deeply connected to the multiple oppressions non trans women of color experience. By recognizing this, we can begin to move reproductive justice conversations forward in a way that provides opportunity for inclusion rather than the continued fragmentation of womanhood currently plaguing the movement. The legacy of trans women of color activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, provide excellent points of reference for this suggestion.
To combat the public mistreatment and overall violence against trans women, the year 1970 witnessed Johnson and Rivera launch a collective shelter for women of the community–most of whom were youth and sex workers–called Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) House. Drawing from their own experiences of the violent risks associated with sex for survival, the main goal of STAR House was to offer housing and community support to ensure that other trans women didn’t have to “hustle” in order to live a complete life. Although it was a short lived program, STAR House holds a significant place in reproductive justice history as being the first grassroots initiative to promote thesexual health and safety of queer and trans youth of color.
More than this, Johnson and Rivera’s work reveals a primary way in which the reproductive oppressions of trans women of color directly link to the realities of non trans women of color. Specifically, it shows that no matter how one physically occupies the identity of a woman, the threat of economic hardship as a product of structural racism and misogyny, inevitability regulates their sexuality and how they engage their bodies in sex.

—K. Ryan Ziegler, “We Have Always Resisted,” blac(k)ademic 1/18/13

(Image: “Still Wading” by K. Ryan Ziegler for Strong Families)

For reproductive justice advocates of color, the strategic act of centering Roe v. Wade can be useful in that it provides a documented history of resistance against a medical industry driven by pharmaceutical genocide. However, because this framework privileges a concept of “woman” concerned primarily with abortion access, it advances a dangerous narrative that erases the multiple ways that generations of trans women of color have also organized around similar issues of reproductive oppression. Specifically, the right of an individual to exercise control and fight for the safety of their bodies despite their gender and sexuality.

Becoming mindful of the historical activism of trans women of color prior to Roe v. Wade, offers the potential for making a significant impact when organizing for reproductive rights. Their experience of injustice might extend far beyond safe access to abortions, still, it is deeply connected to the multiple oppressions non trans women of color experience. By recognizing this, we can begin to move reproductive justice conversations forward in a way that provides opportunity for inclusion rather than the continued fragmentation of womanhood currently plaguing the movement. The legacy of trans women of color activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, provide excellent points of reference for this suggestion.

To combat the public mistreatment and overall violence against trans women, the year 1970 witnessed Johnson and Rivera launch a collective shelter for women of the community–most of whom were youth and sex workers–called Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) House. Drawing from their own experiences of the violent risks associated with sex for survival, the main goal of STAR House was to offer housing and community support to ensure that other trans women didn’t have to “hustle” in order to live a complete life. Although it was a short lived program, STAR House holds a significant place in reproductive justice history as being the first grassroots initiative to promote thesexual health and safety of queer and trans youth of color.

More than this, Johnson and Rivera’s work reveals a primary way in which the reproductive oppressions of trans women of color directly link to the realities of non trans women of color. Specifically, it shows that no matter how one physically occupies the identity of a woman, the threat of economic hardship as a product of structural racism and misogyny, inevitability regulates their sexuality and how they engage their bodies in sex.

—K. Ryan Ziegler, “We Have Always Resisted,” blac(k)ademic 1/18/13

janetmock:

FIERCE’s Call to Action Against the New York Times Depiction of Trans Women

Thank you, Fierce, for publishing these letters. I, too, am upset that the Times has not issued an apology for this lacking-in-context piece and/or published any of these letters from others who are angered by the piece. 

fiercenyc:

On July 25, 2012, FIERCE organized a Call to Action asking supporters to submit letters to the New York Times demanding Dignity for Transwomen of Color and LGBTQ Youth in their reporting. The Call to Action was organized in response to a July 24th article: “For Money or Just to Strut, LIving Out Loud on a Transgender Stage.

The article, which relied on and fed into harmful, negative stereotypes of young transwomen of color, neglected to highlight or consider the root causes of why LGBTQ youth are disproportionately on the streets and finding it harder to maintain access and ownership over this historical safe space.

Over the weeks following the action, we received dozens of letters that were not only powerful, but also the acts of solidarity were incredibly moving for all of us here at FIERCE!  Seeing your words and feeling the support of so many allies, we saw the depth and strength of our struggle against transphobia, homophobia, gentrification, and criminalization of LGBTQ youth of color, especially transwomen of color.

As far as we know, theTimesdid not publish the letters. In an effort to empower LGBTQ youth and the communities that support LGBTQ youth-led organizing  in NYC and elsewhere, we wanted to share a small collection of these letters with you.

In love and struggle,

FIERCE

So loving this: Janet Mock’s PSA for votingwhiletrans.org

womenwhokickass:

Amaranta Gomez Regalado: Why she kicks ass
She is an HIV/AIDS activist who has won international grants to further her work with the Muxhe community and with migrant women.
She also is a social researcher, columnist and promotes indigenous cultural identity, and  is a member of the State Committee Against Homophobia.
She  identifies as Muxhe and Two-Spirit, and speaks Zapotec and Spanish. She has studied language and theatre at Veracruz University and toured southern Mexico as a travésti performer.
She is a co-founder of Mexico Possible party, and was its candidate for Federal Deputy in 2003. Because of this she was the first transgender Mexican to run for office.

womenwhokickass:

Amaranta Gomez Regalado: Why she kicks ass

  • She is an HIV/AIDS activist who has won international grants to further her work with the Muxhe community and with migrant women.
  • She also is a social researcher, columnist and promotes indigenous cultural identity, and  is a member of the State Committee Against Homophobia.
  • She  identifies as Muxhe and Two-Spirit, and speaks Zapotec and Spanish. She has studied language and theatre at Veracruz University and toured southern Mexico as a travésti performer.
  • She is a co-founder of Mexico Possible party, and was its candidate for Federal Deputy in 2003. Because of this she was the first transgender Mexican to run for office.

(via ethiopienne)

womenwhokickass:

Miss Major: Why she kicks ass

  • She is a black, formerly incarcerated, woman and transgender elder, who was at the Stonewall uprisings in ’69, and became politicized in the aftermath at Attica. She has been an activist and advocate in her community for over forty years, mentoring and empowering many of today’s transgender leaders to stand tall, step into their own power, and defend their human rights, from coast to coast. 
  • Currently, Miss Major is the Executive Director of the TGI Justice Project (TGIJP) , whose mission is to challenge and end the human rights abuses committed against transgender, gender variant/genderqueer, and intersex (TGI) people in California prisons and beyond.
  • In 2008, she testified at to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland about the abuses of transgender women of color in and out of the Prison Industrial Complex in the US.

(via the-original-dtwps)

janetmock:

Isis King submits her 7 Questions Video to WeHappyTrans.com, and I’m honored that she’s allowed us into her life and journey to womanhood from the very beginning.

I’m also humbled to call her my dear sister. 

janetmock:

Fernanda Milan says, “I deserve a safe space to develop as a human being.”

Sign her petition to protect her from deportation to Guatemala, where she fears returning to a hostile country that offers her no protections as a trans activist.

Fernanda is a shining portrait of beauty, grace and intelligence under heaps and heaps of oppression and odds.

Signal boost!