Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The State Of The Black Trans Union 2013

While I was watching the State of the Union address I couldn't help but ponder in the aftermath of that speech the overall status of the African-American trans community and where it is several weeks into 2013.

So what is the State of the Black Trans Union through the eyes of the TransGriot?   A mixed bag.

We've made some strides on many fronts.  Two members of the record trans contingent that attended the 2012 Democratic natrional convention in Charlotte were TPOCC executive director Kylar Broadus and the president emeritus of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition Dr. Marisa Richmond.

Kylar also became the first transperson of any ethnic background to give testimony to a US senate committee.  In Washington DC IFGE award winner Earline Budd was nominated for and became a DC Human Rights Commissioner.  We've have more role models become visible around the country such as Janet Mock,. Laverne Cox, Valerie Spencer, Dr Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Minister Carmarion Anderson, Isis King, Carter Brown, Danielle King. Diamond Stylz, Kokumo Kinetic and Cheryl Courtney Evans just to name a few.   

We have all these people (including myself) and other unheralded ones taking on leadership roles in our community.  Many are gaining local, national and sometimes international attention for it but as Ralph Ellison would say, yet we are still invisible to mainstream America. 

Ever since Christine Jorgensen 60 years ago this month stepped her stylishly dressed self on the tarmac at JFK airport the media light and the narrative has been predominately focused on white transwomen.   That still persists six decades later to the point that when CeCe McDonald, one of our own trans women was in trouble, the only person a talk show helmed by a Black woman sought out to talk about the case was a white one.

We are still disproportionately  along with our Latina sisters taking the brunt of the anti-trans murders, and 2013 is already off to a negative start with the killing of Milwaukee rapper Evon 'Yung LT' Young.   The New Year dawned with Sage Smith still missing and former DC Police officer Kenneth Furr receiving a get out of jail free card after being convicted on October 27 of wounding two trans women.   CeCe McDonald is in jail for standing her ground and defending herself while the people who killed Paige Clay and Brandy Martell are still free.

We are still grappling with an unemployment rate almost double the one cis African-Americans face at 27% and haven't had an African-American transperson elected to public office since 1992.  Outside of TPOCC, there are no African-American transpersons that I am aware of who are working in any major LGBT human rights organization.  

In our state and civic locales the LGBT orgs that purport to represent the entire community resemble Republican party convention halls and frustration is growing about that state of affairs.

We are still frustrated by a media blackout (pun intended) that hampers us from getting the attention we deserve to help shed a spotlight on the solvable problems in the African-American trans community that are also Black America's problems.

We are also beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of the dynamic in the African-American community that gives far more unconditional love, respect and authenticity to the fictional Madea character Tyler Perry plays and RuPaul dressed in drag than the proud African-American trans women in their midst fighting for their human rights, dignity and humanity.  
To borrow Maya Angelou's words, and still we rise.

The Trans Persons of Color Coalition contines to grow and solidify its standing as the go to organization for non-white transpeople.   The Black Transmen Inc, Conference I have the honor along with Kylar of doing a keynote speech for next month in Dallas is in its second year at a bigger hotel.  The TransFaith in Color conference in Charlotte continues to grow in size and positive reputation.

The National Black Justice Coalition also continues to make it clear to the Black transgender community that the 'T' is capitalized in LGBT when they speak of and include us in their advocacy and their programming..    

Speaking of our Black transmen, it has been a blessing and sincere joy to see them stepping up to share the leadership role in our community, do the organizing work that needs to be done and get their much deserved time in the media spotlight as they do so.

The upcoming March 31 unveiling of the first annual Trans 100 list will be the first step in giving recognition to those amazing leaders out there.   They run the gamut from our emerging youth to elder statespersons that give me hope that the future of our Black trans union will continue to improve in 2013 and beyond.

I also hope to see us in 2013 as we continue our effort to build a better, more cohesive African-American trans community, we also take some time to reach out to our trans brothers and sisters across the African Diaspora..  Their voices have been just as muted as ours have been here in the States and they are also struggling for the protection of their human rights and respect of their humanity in their various nations.

If they ask for our help, we must respond by respectfully asking our Diaspora cousins what's the best way for us in the West to do so and then follow through.  

So what's the state of the Black Trans Union?   A mixed bag that's not even close to where we need it to be, but is improving enough to give me hope that when i write this post in 2014 it will be better. 

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