Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Black Community, It's Past Time To Fight For Black Trans Women's Human Rights

“When people are fighting for women’s rights, they’re not so much fighting for trans women’s rights. And when people are fighting for civil rights for black people, they’re not fighting for the rights of trans women of color.”   Janet Mock

Janet Mock said this in a recent Loop 21 article discussing the human rights of Black trans women, and she is dead on target  

It's a point that I have spent much of my activist career and the six years this blog has been in operation trying to make to fellow African Americans inside and outside the chocolate rainbow community and anyone else who would listen.

It seems like at long last that point is finally getting heard.

When I'm out and about in this world, my being Black goes wherever I do and is part and parcel of whatever community I interact with.   You see that aspect of me before we even touch on the fact that I'm trans.  I'm also a walking example of intersectionality because I interact with women, the African-American community, the trans community, womanists and the LGB community just to name a few.

So as someone who is a proud member of the African-American community and trans communities and who is concerned about the human rights of both, it's past time that my cis Black brothers and sisters begin to fight for trans human rights just as hard as I and other Black trans people push for the human rights of African-Americans to be respected and protected.

As Fannie Lou Hamer once said, when I liberate others, I liberate myself.   Trans people are and have always been part of the kente cloth fabric of African-American life.  We didn't just pop up in this century and the issues that affect me as a transperson also are ones that affect the African-American community as well.

For example, as a Texan, when voter suppression laws are passed that are aimed at my people, they not only affect me as an African-American, they also affect me as a transperson.   We transpeople still have problems with getting ID that accurately affects who we are as people.  

If you're going to require that I have a photo ID to vote but won't allow me to change the gender code on said photo ID without having to go in front of a judge and pay legal fees to do so, that is a poll tax that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Police brutality, stop and frisk policing, unemployment and underemployment, racism and bigotry, HIV/AIDS, the War on Women and as I mentioned in the previous paragraph voting rights are just some of the policy issues affecting trans people that overlap with our cis African descended brothers and sisters.  

We also deal with off the charts violence aimed at African-American transwomen as well.  I'm tired of losing young Black transwomen at the rate of two per month and memorializing them every November 20 at Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremonies. I'm tired of seeing us face a 26% unemployment rate and having our humanity disrespected, people thinking it's okay to do so and our ministers, legacy organizations and media outlets being silent about it.

I'm also not happy about transwomen being used by people who hate on independent and proud Black women such as the Williams sisters and countless others to insult and question their femininity and perpetuate the 'unwoman' meme aimed at all of us. 
As the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey is pointing out, we're catching hell right now and we're going to need help passing the legislation and formulating the policies that will help alleviate our suffering.. We want to work, pay our taxes, vote for the candidates of our choice and live our lives without interference.  We also want to be in a better position before the end of this decade to be able to do our part to uplift ourselves as African descended transpeople, the race and be better allies to all the communities we intersect with.
Black community, it's past time to fight for Black trans women and their human rights.  By doing so, you'll be expanding human rights coverage for yourselves. 

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