Thursday, February 27, 2020

Washington State Legislature Passes 'Nikki's Law'

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The passage of the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act has the state of Washington poised to become the tenth one to ban the trans and gay panic defenses.

It was named for Nikki Kuhnhausen, the Vancouver, WA trans teen who was murdered after a June 6 date with David Bognadov,  but whose remains weren't  found until December 7. 

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The 25 year old Bogdanovwas arrested on December 17, and is now awaiting trial for her murder.

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Nikki's Law was originally introduced in 2019 by then state Rep. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell) , but stalled in the House Rules Committee that year.   After Kuhnhausen's disappearance and the finding of her remains, the bill was revived, with an amendment from Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) naming it for her.

Stanford is now a member of the Washington Senate.

“Just finding out someone’s gender or sexual orientation should never be a justification for attacking that person,” Stanford stated in a press release. “Sadly, this excuse is still used sometimes to try to justify violent assaults. This bill will make sure that it can’t be used by people who commit violent acts.”

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Washington State Senator Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) noted that while Nikki's death was a catalyst for the bill passing, the tremendous need for this legislation predates Nikki's date.

“The terrible truth is that vicious assaults have been perpetrated against transgender people, as well as others in the LGBTQ community, for far too long,” Sen. Cleveland’s statement read. “This bill is a start. It is long overdue, and we must still do more.”

It passed out of the Democratically controlled Washington House on a 90-5 vote last month and just passed out of the Washington Senate by a 46-3 margin a few days ago.

The bill is now awaiting Gov Jay Inslee's (D) signature to become law.  . 

Number 2- Rest In Power Alexa Ruiz

Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, also known as Alexa.
While it has been queit since New Year's Day in terms of trans people being killed in 2020, in the years I have been tracking anti-trans deaths here in the US,  there has always seemed to be been somewhat of a lull in the early winter months of January and February before the numbers start exploding as the weather gets warmer. 

I've also been marveling at the streak the Latinas had been on in whch they had gone nearly 15th  months since I last wrote about a Latina trans woman being murdered.   

September 18, 2018 was the last time that happened on this blog, when Nikki Enriquez was killed in Laredo, TX  by the ex Border Patrol serial killer Juan David Oritiz. 

Ortiz is still in jail awaiting trial for her murder and the murders of three other women that occured between September 14-15, 2018. 

While the trans Latina community has had  some close calls, including the shooting of Daniela Calderon in Dallas back in October,  I worried that it was only a matter of time before their remarkle luck ran out.

And the circumstances of this second anti-trans murder of 2020 are frankly pissing me off.

We go to Puetro Rico for the latesr trans murder.    Her name was Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, better known as Alexa,  was shot and killed early Monday morning in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico  mere hours after someone called the po-po on her for using the women's restroom at a McDonald's.

We still don't know her age yet,  but the perps of this latest hate crime are alleged to be four teenagers. who videotaped themselves doing so.   Here body was found at approximately 3:50 AM local time.   No  one has claimed her body as of this writing.   

But let me say this about the latest murder

Going to the bathroom while trans shouldn't be an effing death sentence. But anti-trans hate thoughts + anti-trans hate speech = anti-trans hate murders.
Alexa Ruiz was homeless. She didn't get the chance to get the help she needed to get out of that situation because somebody killed her in Toa Baja, PR yesterday. .

That ended a remarkable streak in which the US based Latina trans community had gone since September 2018 (Nikki Enriquez, Laredo, TX) ,without having someone murdered.
While they have had some close calls, with Daniela Calderon in Dallas being the most recent example, who survived after being shot at point blank range six times at a bus stop, this senseless death is marjorly pissing me off.
The most vulnerable among us sadly will pay the price for the anti-trans posturing of Republican politicans, TERFs, evilgelicals and transphobic Roman Catholic Church officials, and conservafool media.
Alexa's blood is on their hands, not that they really care. It's also on the hands of the transphobe that made the call on her for simply using the damn bathroom
They are all working in concert to make the lives of trans people here and around the world hell for their own nefarious purposes.
Alexa Ruiz shouldn't have died for simply using the bathroom at a McDonalds. But because some transphobic fool called the cops on her, that's the result.
Rest in power and peace Alexa May the fools who committed this crime be swifrly caught.
And oh yeah,  Let my people pee in peace.  .

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

How I Got The Air Marshal Nickname

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If you follow me on social media, you may have seen posts referring to me as the Air Marshal, and wonder how I got that nickname.   I'm about to tell you how.

I was still working in the airline biz when I started doing activism work on behalf of the trans community in 1998.  There was also another Monica besides moi in the trans activism ranks who started at roughly the same time in then Phoenix based Monica Helms (as in trans pride flag creator Monica Helms).
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Not only did we start getting into trans activism at roughly the same time, our writing styles were close enough in tone that people frequently mixed us up in online forms.

To make it clear in online communication which Monica a comment was being directed at or which one of us Monicas was talking in a comment thread, because Helms served in the Navy, she became known as Monica of the Sea, or Sea Monica for short. Because I was in the airline biz, I became known as Monica of the Air, or Air Monica.

Since I also had as a decade long airline employee the perk of free standby air travel and other discounts to go with it, I quickly became the national trans community's rapid response person when we needed an immediate trans physical presence on short notice for meetings, protests or lobbying efforts at the federal, state or local level.

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Since we called  trailblazing leader Phyllis Frye 'The General' because of her time in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and the Army, as the newbie Texan to the trans activism community and her mentee, I received the nickname from Polar of 'The Air Marshal.

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Air Marshal is a senior three star rank in Great Britain's Royal Air Force, and because I also became when the national Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) was founded in 1999 their Lobby Chair/ Political Director tasked with developing trans public policy, the Air Marshal nickname fit and stuck.

I liked the Air Marshal nickname better at the time than the one that I was being called by racist vanillacentric privileged TS separatists, Darth Maul.

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I actually grew to love that Darth Maul nickname so much that when I won my IFGE Trinity Award in 2006 (becoming the third African American trans person to win it after Dawn Wilson and Marisa Richmond), I was going to enter the hotel ballroom in Philly where they were having the IFGE convention award ceremony to the Imperial March.

That's a story for another time.  Back to the Air Marshal one.

So when you see me post on FB that 'the Air Marshal has landed' , it's basically a nod to my early days as an activist and acknowledging that being my kind of trans activist has at times involved lots of air travel.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

My San Diego Queer Black History Month Keynote Speech

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The speech I'm delivering at the Queer Black History Month event in San Diego.


To the leadership of the Gender Phluid Collective, Angelle Maua, my trans siblings, allies, friends and honored guests

Thank you for the invitation to address you at this Queer Black History event.  It was a well timed one as well. seeing that my hometown is being hit with freezing temps while I'm basking in the warmth of your love and these heavenly temperatures.

As we all know, this is Black History Month.   As the child and godchild of historians, every month on the calendar is Black History Month, and I celebrate the ongoing story being written for and about a mighty people.

Those mighty Black people also include those of us who are also members of the trans, gender non conforming and same gender loving communities as well.

Far too often we are seen as 'too Black' for the TBLGQ plus community and 'not Black enough' for the cis hetero Black one.   The bottom line is that we exist, and aren't going away anytime soon.  .

That is also true of those of us who proudly and unapologetically claim our  trans and gender non conforming status.  We will not be erased from society, or have our blood ties to the African American community and the African Diaspora denied or debated.

Black trans people are Black people.  We have been here as long as modern humans have walked this planet  and we will fight with every fiber of our beings any attempt to marginalize and erase us from our shared Black history.

In 1822 Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm, the founders of the abolitionist newspaper, Freedom's Journal said,
  "We wish to plead our own case.  For too long others have spoken about us, but our virtues go unnoticed'

While they were talking about African Americans in general, their words could easily apply to the queer Black community of the 21st Century.

When it comes to talking about the virtues of Black trans people, our virtues are willfully ignored while a far too long list of people inside and outside our community that includes D-list rappers, unfunny comedians, wannabe Black lesbian TERF’s, kneegrow conservafool pundits and assorted ignorati gleefully attack and denigrate us.

That crap needs to stop.

That's a major reason why we need to be talking about the amazing things we have done and are doing in 21st Century America and the world as Black trans people.  It's why our history matters.  
It's why this event has been organized and my unapologetically Black trans self is proudly standing before you today.

Gender variant behavior has been part of African culture going back to ancient Egypt.   There are still peoples on the African continent that have third gender categories.   In the Yoruba language, there is no specific word for male or female.

So spare me that fake news that being trans or queer is 'unAfrican'   Many of our gender nonconforming ancestors got that same unwanted free boat ride to the Western Hemisphere like everyone else who survived the Middle Passage here..

It's time to plead our case.   What case you ask?   Our case that we are undeniably part of the Black community.  And what an amazing one it is that I get to argue in front of you today.

Our case includes people like Mary Jones, who transitioned at a New Orleans brothel, made her way to New York City, and found herself in the middle of an 1836 trial covered in the New York Times.

It includes people like Frances Thompson, who along with her cisgender Black roommate was sexually assaulted during the 1866 Memphis riots, and told her story to the US Congressional committee documenting what happened.

It includes people like Lucy Hicks Anderson, who just up the road from here in Ventura California became the first known marriage equality case in 1945.

It includes the story of Wilmer Broadnax, a trans masculine person who was a major gospel singer from the 40s to the 70's.

It's early Black trans masculine leaders like Marcelle Cook Daniels and Alexander John Goodrum who helped shape the direction of the modern trans rights movement. .

Goodrum is responsible for helping pass the trans inclusive Tucson, AZ non discrimination ordinance in 1999.

There's Althea Garrison, who in 1990 became the first trans persons elected to a state legislature when she accomplished that feat in Massachusetts.  And of course, Marsha P  Johnson, Miss Major, Kylar Broadus, and some five time nominated GLAAD award winning blogger.

It's also important to hear the stories of our trans elders like Tracie Jada O'Brien who can tell us what it was like to transition back in the day and is still serving our community right now.

The father of the study of Black History, Carter G. Woodson, said that those who have no record of what their forebears accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.

Black History isn't just a robotic recitation of names of people and dates of events.  There are people right now who are making Black history like Minneapolis city Councilmembers Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham.    It's Aria Said putting together the Compton Trans Historical District in San Francisco.   It's Marisa Richmond blazing leadership trails in the Democratic Party upper echelon leadership ranks while teaching history herself at the collegiate level.

It's Janet Mock, Angelica Ross and the ladies of POSE blazing trails in Hollywood and telling our stories on the small and silver screens.  It's Jessica Zyrie sashaying down catwalks during New York Fashion Week.  It's Jazelle Barbie Royale becoming last year the first Black winner of the Miss International Queen trans pageant in Thailand.

It's our Black trans men from Carter Brown to Louis Mitchell to Rev. Lawrence Richardson not only blazing trails, but also beginning those conversations with cis masculine men about what Black masculinity looks like, how it can evolve into a more positive direction, and role modeling it..

We also can't forget our trans younglings like Trinity Neal and Zaya Wade, who represent our next generation of trans people.   It is them and trans and gender non conforming kids yet unborn who we do this work for to make our communities and world better

What telling our history accomplishes is several critical missions.  It establishes the irrefutable fact that we have and always will continue to exist.    It points out that not matter how much you hate on us, we remain an undeniable part of the Black community.   It points out that we are doing our part to contribute our talents to make the Black community and all the communities we intersect and interact with better.

It also gives our trans kids, in a world irrationally hostile to their existence, possibility models they can be proud of and builds up their self esteem.   Telling our stories also allows us to assert that we are more than just the 'tragic transsexuals' narrative the media consistently tries to paint us with.

So I'm saying it loud, I'm unapologetically, Black trans and proud of it.   I not only am a history maker, so are you.   I have a history as a Black trans person I am exceedingly proud of.

And that is why our history is Black history.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Air Marshal Is In San Diego!

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After an uneventful three  hour flight to get to the Left Coast, the Air Marshal has landed after her first out of state trip of 2020 and this new decade.

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I'm here chilling in San Diego getting ready for a Queer Black History Month event I'll be speaking at tomorrow.  It will be at the San Diego History Center from 11-4 PM PST, and so looking forward to seeing all my San Diego trans family in the house.

The San Diego History Center is located at 1049 El Prado St, and hope you will check out this event centering the voices of Black trans people.

This isn't my first time visiting San Diego.   The last time I was here was for the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, in which I not only got to do two panels, but call out along with Faith Cheltenham someone who was doing a blackface Guinan.

Hopefully this trip will be less drama filled.

I also discovered I have a 7 Eleven in easy walking distance of this hotel, so I'm about to go on a Slurpee run.

But looking forward to the event tomorrow and doing my TransGriot duty dropping knowledge about your Black trans history

Shut Up Fool Awards- We're Voting In Texas Edition

While ther rest of you peeps are focused on Nevada and their caucus happeing tomorrow, what y'all aren't aware of is that Texas started early voting on Tuesday for our March 3 primary election in whcih 222 delegates to the DNC in Milwaukee will be up for grabs.

Early voting will last in the Lone Star State until February 28, and if you don't habdle your early voting business by that date, you'll have to wait until march 3 to vote in either the Democratic or Republican Party primaries.

That's my public service message for you to take your soul (and a few of your friends souls) to the poling places near you and handle your voting business.

Speaking of handling some business, time to handle our weekly Friday business of calling out fools and seeing which one earned the coveted TransGriot Shut Up Fool Award.

Honorable mention number one was Briahna Joy Gray, the press secretary to Bernie Sanders. 
She channeled her inner Sarah Sanders to declare that people asking for Bernie's medical records because his azz had a heart attack a few months ago, is akin to birtherism.

Naw boo boo kitty, it isn't.   It's because inquiring minds wanna know if Sanders' 78 year old azz  is healthy enough to actually survive a term in a pressure packed office that turn Barack Obama's hair gray after serving two terms.

Let me move on to Honorable mention number two, the Texas Southern University Board of Regents, who fired Dr Austin Lane, TSU's now former president, over the objections of TSU students and TSU alumni

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They admitted Lane was not ivolved in the Thurgood Marshall Law School admissions scandal, so why are you terminating him and paying him nearly a million dollars to go?. 

The only people bringing shame to TSU are you boneheads

Honorable mention number three is a group award for The Breakfast Club, who brought the HeSheDummy Marcus' problematic azz on their show again.

Not even wasting my valuable time listening to it.

This week's winner is Boosie Badazz, the D-List rapper who opened his big mouth and let something transphobic come out of it in regards to Zaya Wade.

Dude, you are the last person to give anyone parenting advice, since you were willing to let someone sexually assault your cisgender male child.

And FYI you ignorant kneegrow, you don't get to have a say about Zaya Wade, period.  Trans people's lives, and especially our Black trans kids; lives are not up for debate or discussion. 

Let me say it again in case you didn't comprehend it the first time.

Zaya is a girl. She's told you she is a girl. Her parents unconditionally love and support her. That settles it.   Move on.  
D-Wade and Gabby got this in terms of knowing what's best for their child, and you need to get back to not raising yours properly.

Boosie Not So Badazz, shut up fool 

Pulling My US House 22 Endorsement

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Over the last several election cycles, I have done endorsements for municipal, state and national candidates.   They have bcome sought after ones, and I compiled one for the 2020 cycle.  . 

I originally endorsed Nyanza Moore in the US House 22 race.  But since I published it last week, I've gotten disturbing news of transphobic statements made by Ms. Moore, accompanied with video from Media Matters as a FOX 26 pundit.

That's problematic on a lot of levels for me since in conversations I've had with her over the last year, she expressed to me the desire to want to learn about trans issues and be better at advocating for  them.  The video leads me to question her sincerity in what she expressed to me.

We need peeps who are committed to fighting for trans Texans in the halls of Congress, not ones who dismissively question our very humanity.  I expect Republicans to be that way to us.  I'm not tolerating it from folks who are supposed to be progressive Democrats.

Therefore I'm pulling that endorsement made in the US House District 22 race to make it a No Endorsement race.   

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Past Time To Ban The Trans Panic Defense

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When I talk about the trans panic defense, it is a shock to judges and even attorneys who have been practicing law for decades.

So what is the trans panic defense?   It is a reprhensible legal strategy used by defense attorneys working for clients who have killed trans or gender non conforming (GNC) people.  It asks juries to find that the victim's gender identity or secual orientation is to blame for the defendant's loss of self control and violent reaction that led said defendant to harm or kill that trans or GNC person.

Yeah, it's BS, but since the trans panic defese plays upon transphobic 'deception' meme and taps into the transphobia that may be present in a jury, it unfortunately works.   

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We saw it being deployed by Dallas defense attorney Andrew Wilkerson in Dallas last October to get his client Edward Thomas off on a lesser charge.   Thomas was the person who viciously beat down Muhlaysia Booker in a videotaped fight last April. 

Thomas was convicted on a misdemeanor asault charge instead of the felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon one.

But it exists, and there is now a movement to ban it.

There is a US Senate bill, S 1721, that has been filed to ban the trans and gay panic defense on a federal level.   The American Bar Association (ABA) and the LGBT Bar Association supports its elimination. 

We are now up to nine states in which the trans panic defese is banned.   Those states are California (2014), Illinois (2017), Rhode Island (2018), Nevada, Connectitcut, Maine, Hawaii and New York (2019), and New Jersey (2020)

The District of Columbia (2017 and 2019), Minnesota and Pennsylvania (2018), Texas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Wisconsin  (2019), Washington (2019 and 2020), Maryland (2020)  and Gerogia (2020) 

The one in Washington state is called the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act in memory of the trans teen who was murdered there, and is now being debated by their state legislature, 

It will interesting to see if more states join the movement to ban the trans panic defense.  It's something that should have been done a long time ago.

How I Count The Trans Murders

The number of murdered trans folks in 2020 has been holding steady so far at one since New Year's Day.  But I expect that number to quickly rise once winter gives way to spring and summer and the temps rise.

People have asked me what are the parameters I use to count trans deaths, so here they are. 

*I use the standards of the Remembering our Dead Web Project as created by Gwen Smith.   If you report a person as having been killed to me, I will need a link to at least one or two local news media stories confirming that the person was killed.   Will need a link to their Facebook page if known as well so that I can have a nice pic of the person to use while telling their story instead of a mug shot.

*I count from 12:00 AM January 1 to 11:59 PM on December 31 in the same calendar year.  I don't count from TDOR to TDOR.  We need to know how many people have been killed in a calendar year so we can have those hard numbers.

*I don't include suicides.   A person who commits suicide has made a choice about taking their life.   Someone who is murdered doesn't have the element of choice.  The perpetrator of the anti-trans violence made that choice to end their life for them. 

Trans suicide, while important to talk about, is a wholly separate issue from trans people who have been violently taken from us.   Suicides should not be lumped in with TDOR murder stats.

*If someone has been killed while in prison or ICE custody, unless someone in that prison or ICE has been charged with murder, I can't for journalistic reasons count it in the yearly stats. 

Same rationale for someone killed by a police officer.   Unless that officer is charged with murder, can't count it as a trans murder no matter how much we suspect that's exactly what happened.

*I'm focusing on counting the trans deaths in the United States.   There are other orgs tracking the deaths in Europe, Latin America, Asia and other parts of the world like Transgender Europe (TGEU)  and OutRight Action International

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Facts are what matter.   I am striving for accuracy when I compile these counts on these TransGriot pages.   As a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) I'm also doing my utmost to follow the journalistic standards of these organizations I am a proud member of.   

It's even more important now I'm finding myself doing more local and national print and television interviews to talk about the anti-trans violence that's killing us.  I also don't want our right wing opposition or TERFs trying to claim we're padding the counts.

If someone is arrested after the commisison of one of these murders aginst our siblings, the average time from an arrest to trial is about two years.   With the avalanche of cases happening and my limited bandwith to keep track of it all, I am asking for help from you TransGriot readers to let me know when these trans killers in your areas of the country come to trial. 

I want to know if the killers have been found guilty, and if so, how much time did they get when they were sentenced.

So with so many cases happening, I will need a reminder from you, TransGriot readers if you see news of a a trans murderer going to trial .

So these are the guidelines I use to track trans murders.  I hope and pray I won't be as busy as I have been the last few years documenting these cases, but we still have a lot of 2020 left, a raving transphobe in the White House, conservative media going buck wild in sprading transphobic BS, and Republican lawmakers in the US trying to pass unjust anti-trans bills.

So while I'm hoping for the best, I'm mentally prepared to expect another bad year on the trans murder front.. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Early Voting In The Texas Primary Starts Tomorrow

March 3 is the date you want to circle on your 2020 calendar if you wish to go handle your election business on primary election day.   But for those of you like myself who already have your minds made up and nothing is going to change it by waiting aonther week or so, early voting for the Texas primary starts tomorrow. 

The dates for Texas early voting are February 18-February 28.    In Harris County, you can vote at any voting center inside the county from 7 AM-7 PM CST.   On 'Souls To The Polls Day', Sunday February 23. the polls will be open from 1-6 PM CST 

There's also a new twist happening in this Texas primary election besides the fact the straight ticket voting option won't be on the ballot no thanks to our Texas GOP legislators.   In Harris County, Democratic and Republican primary election participants will be doing so from the same voting centers.

And if you're wondering who to vote for on the Democratic side, I have some suggestions.

This is a prinary election ballot, so it will be a long one, especially in Harris County. 

Vote the enitre ballor from POTUS to dog catcher, because there are good candidates wanting and needing your votes in races on that other end of the ballot as well, and those races are jsut as important as the presidential contest is.

Texas judicial benches, Texas State Board of Education, those offices are on the ballot and they  matter along with the state lege races.   Turning this state blue starts with you, the voters taking part in this and every election. .

The best part of early voting is that you choose when, whare and what time to do so, as long as you cast those ballots from Febraury 18-28 .   After those dates, you'll have to wait until the March 3 Election Day.

For those of you who aren't registered to vote for the primary, there's still time for you to get busy and get registered for the May runoff and general election on November 3.     To be eligible to vote in the May runoff election, you must be registered by April 2.   Final date to get registered for the general election in November is October 5

But first up is the primary elections what will play a major role in determining what peeeps are on your ballot in November    So tke some time out of your busy schedule to handle your electoral business.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Moni's Headed To San Diego

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You Cali folks and other Left Coasters keep asking me when will I start showing up in your state.  Well, the Air Marshal is about to be in Southern California soon.   

Looking forward to making my first trip to San Diego since 2017 for this event.

I'll be joining Tracie Jada O'Brien, Libra Audacious Valentino,  Jelecia King,  Amber St James,  Samsara, Pamuela Halliwell, Savion Cooper and Kenya Trahan for this Black History Month event fousing on honoring and protetcing the lives of Black trans women.   

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Deeply appreciate the opportunity to spend some quality time with my San Diego fam and my trans elder Mama Tracie. thanks to the Gender Phluid Collective.

Always love to talk to my trans elders about what it was like back in the day to transition, and honor peeps like her who paved the way for my generation of trans peeps

And yes, always down to talk to the new generation of trans and GNC peeps as well

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It will be taking place next Saturday, February 22, at the San Diego History Center from 11 AM-4 PM PST.   I hope to see many of you peeps in the San Diego area either there at the event or while I'm in town. 

3rd Annual March For Black Women Happening February 22

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I'll be missing it for the first time due to a previous commitment, but just wanted to let people know that the 3rd annual March For Black Women Houston will be taking place on the Texas Southern University campus February 22.

That event will be starting at 10 AM CST,    Since it's also happening during the early voting period of the Texas primary,the march destination this year will be a nearby polling place to cast our ballots in this critical to our state and nation 2020 election. 

If you wish to support the March for black Women Houston  ., this is how you do so. 

To handle that business, -

Hope y'all' show up and show out for this year's edition of the March For Black Women and make this edition of it the best one yet..