Too Many Trans Women’s Lives Lost to Violence

Club Hippo Flash Mob Proposal
Local Woman Proposes With Flash Mob at Club Hippo
February 19, 2015
2015 Her HRC DC at Town Danceboutique
Photos: 2015 Her HRC DC
February 19, 2015

Too Many Trans Women’s Lives Lost to Violence

Yazmin-Vash-Payne-transgender-woman

Yazmin Vash Payne, Age 33

Yazmin-Vash-Payne-transgender-woman

Yazmin Vash Payne, Age 33

“Every Breath that a Trans Person Takes is an Act of Revolution.” -Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Executive Director, Trans Women Of Color Collective

One transgender woman has been murdered every week since the start of the new year. Let that sink in. It is painful to think of the conversation we could have on December 31 if this horrific trend continues.

Do you know their names?

· Ty Underwood, 24
· Bri Golec,  22
· Lamia Beard,  30
· Penny Proud,  21
· Taja DeJeus,  36
· Yazmin Vash Payne, 33
· Khristina GrantInfiniti , 45 and the latest murder
· Goddess Edwards, 20. Unfortunately, she was mis-gendered by the media, including LGBTQ publications.

These women were friends, sisters, cousins, daughters, lovers, and worthy of life. These women were murdered and then their memories further insulted by the media and those who accept a reality that transphobia, mis-gendering, mocking, erasure and victim blaming is acceptable, because these were transwomen.

These murders intersect at complex issues that trans leaders have been speaking about and addressing while growing a movement of trans liberation for quite some time now. It is time for the rest of us to catch up.

In an essay,  Janet Mock, so perfectly penned her feelings about these recent murders and more so how “Trans women of color dangerously fall in between the cracks of racial justice, feminist and LGbt movements.” I encourage everyone to read it. Trans women of color are the most vulnerable and most under represented and served  in the LGBTQ community. This has to change.

Over the last year, I have been humbled by conversations with trans leaders that have transformed my personal level of commitment to solidarity with our trans community. Their work, their dedication and their unwavering commitment to the dismantling of structural erasure is inspiring and revolutionary.

I wanted to share some things that I have learned from the trans community about what we can all do to build solidarity, help protect our trans family and hold LGBTQ organizations accountable to serving our entire rainbow.

Doing Nothing Is No Longer An Option

I want to be very clear, these are not my original ideas. They belong to women who have been on the ground, doing work in the Trans community; women like Queen Godddess Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Queen Goddess Katrina Goodlette, Angelica Ross, Janet Mock, Ruby Corado, Andy Bowen, and countless others.

  1.  Support trans focused organizations with your time and money. I would go a step further and say to only financially support LGBTQ organizations that make it a priority to have trans people in leadership positions.
  2. If you are a business owner, create and implement a recruiting strategy that includes trans people.
  3. Without exception, trans focused initiatives must be governed by trans leadership.
  4. If you represent leadership at an LGBTQ organization and there are no trans people on your leadership team, re-evaluate your leadership team and recruit trans people. This includes management and BODs.
  5. As an LGBTQ organization, if you are not purposefully servicing our trans community, create space and programs that will. We all intersect. You cannot claim to serve our community without serving ALL of our community.
  6. Hold people accountable for the language used when speaking of trans people. Do not tolerate slander, mocking or derogatory epithets.
  7.  Shut up and listen. Listen to trans leaders and the community. Stop trying to rationalize their lived experience through your eyes. If you are not nor have ever lived life as a trans person, you won’t understand what it means to walk through the world as a trans woman or man. Be okay with that and just listen.
  8. Do not let media erase or mis-gender one more trans person without challenging it when you see it.
  9. Elevate your knowledge and understanding of the trans community. While experiences are varied and stories are very different there is a common language and understanding we should all have. Understand pronouns, ask how someone wants to be addressed and don’t assume.
  10. Use your privilege to address, challenge and dismantle systems that actively participate in the erasure of trans people.
  11. My last point, and my unofficial: Give a damn.

Trans women are being murdered…weekly! We can no longer sit in our cisgender privilege and do nothing.