Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGI Justice Project) is excited to announce the newly created TGI Prison Representation Network. We recognize that TGI people in California prisons and jails are chronically underrepresented while facing pervasive systemic abuse, and plan to meet our community’s need for legal assistance by training and deploying pro bono attorneys to represent our incarcerated family.
TGI Justice Project will train all network volunteers in:
Attorneys will dedicate 10 pro bono hours to directly represent incarcerated TGI people unable to otherwise find representation
Together, we can ensure that the human rights of our TGI family are respected.
Work pro bono representatives can expect to engage in:
Common issue areas:
Trainings will take place in San Francisco as CLEs on December 4th and 11th, in Los Angeles and San Diego during Spring of 2020, and individualized trainings can be scheduled at your firm.
More information on the San Francisco CLEs can be found on this facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/570285230448815/.
This is the link to RSVP to the CLEs: http://tinyurl.com/TGIJP
If you or your firm want to get involved, contact Alex Binsfeld (they/them pronouns) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
*The lower case “r” is used intentionally to reflect the fact that the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation does not engage in sufficient or meaningful rehabilitation work.
Our Re-Entry Program Supports Formerly Incarcerated Black Trans Women and their Protections as Workers
Last month, the Trump administration announced a damaging interpretation of Title VII, arguing that discrimination against transgender people in the workplace is and should be legal. Shifting the terminology from ‘sex’ to ‘biological sex’ was proposed to the Supreme Court, attacking transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex protections and workplace rights. Our TGI community is directly impacted, especially Black trans women who are most impacted by such policies.
Currently, transgender people of color, especially Black trans women, already experience heightened workplace discrimination with little to no legal protection. There are countless roadblocks to employment opportunities, opportunities that barely exist for formerly incarcerated and trans/intersex people. Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project believes that LGBTQI+ protections and workplace rights are crucial.
TGIJP’s Melenie Eleneke Re-Entry Program was launched in 2015 with the purpose of providing equitable employment to formerly incarcerated Black trans women. The Melenie Eleneke Re-Entry Program was created by and for our TGI family coming out of jails and prisons in order to provide immediate support, training, and paid fellowships. The program educates, strengthens, and empowers our community to re-imagine and develop their lives after incarceration through resources, supporting access to jobs, housing, healthcare, and community. Participants go through a tailored three-phase process that allows them to stabilize, develop skills, and create goals while receiving the support they need.
As we revisit 15 years of service and 5 years of paid fellowships and equitable opportunities for our community, we think about how we will keep moving forward in the fight for our freedom.
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” -Alice Walker
We as a community have built upon the idea that we take care of each other and that we should be the people taking care of ourselves. However adamantly this country/culture tries to convince us otherwise, we know that we are best equipped to take care of each other; we actually have everything we need to create space for our own healing. We are invested in breaking cycles of trauma and harm and that we are the only ones that can break that cycle. We come up with clever ways for our healing, we build and create safe spaces out of nothingness. We become our own healers.
Throughout our 15 year lifespan, TGIJP has figured out innovative and creative ways to take care of our community and heal each other. We know that the process of healing is something that we have to heal from as well, and that fighting for our survival and freedom is a constant process. Our organization has many community gatherings because we know of the power of community. We have Black Girlz Rulez, a yearly convening of Black TGI folks in January, we have Mail Correspondence Night every week, open to all communities with dinner and an opportunity to correspond with TGI folks in jails and prisons, and we have quarterly retreats with transformative justice workshops and more! We have hella community gatherings where the intention is healing, support, safety, Blackness, survival, and freedom because those spaces are scarce, which makes them all the more sacred.
We sat down and decided we needed a holistic approach to healing while maintaining abolitionist ideology, a community gathering that addresses the health and wellness of our entire community while we heal, deconstruct, and fight for freedom. A gathering not directly on the frontlines this time, so our recharge time is happening as community-care without the same sacrifices as self-care. With community care, our labor is We brought back Sunday Dinners last weekend, centering our ideas around food as healing. The current political and social environment is harsh and traumatic and we wondered how we could deconstruct trauma and slow down through community and radical food healing.
We wanted to introduce the opportunity to build relationships with each other, building familial traditions with communities [folks] that don’t often have access to family. We wanted to feed the other parts of ourselves that we don’t get to elaborate on, like rest, medicine, laughter, and longevity. We fed those parts of ourselves with food, traditional sacred food like collard greens, dressing, chicken, ribs, and black-eyed peas.
Have you thought about community-care lately? What questions are you asking yourself? What does community-care look like to you? What does self-care look like to you?
You’re invited to our next Sunday Dinner, keep in touch for dates and times! You can keep in touch through our Instagram @tgijustice, Facebook, or Twitter @tgijp.
The TGIJP family holds solidarity with Ira X Armstrong and our trans family involved in the incident on Friday June 28, 2019 and on Sunday June 30, 2019. We are outraged to hear that our community members were harassed, physically attacked, and arrested by SFPD during Pride weekend. Though not shocking, it is distressing to hear of this in a time where our community is supposed to be celebrated. Due to the long history of police brutality, specifically against trans women of color, we know that we cannot rely on cops to protect us. We must protect each other. We must show up for Ira and our folks the way they did for our community.
It is a California right to cop watch, and Ira is a trained cop watcher. Cop watching empowers our community and can reduce violence and harm by police that often occurs when no one is there to witness. Ira was arrested on Friday while exercising their right as a California resident to cop-watch.
We continue to uphold that no cops should be at Pride or in our communities. This incident showcases the systemic racism and gender bias performed by the Prison Industrial Complex in this country. The attack on Black trans, gender variant, and intersex bodies by that very system will continue and no one can protect us but ourselves. We must work diligently towards community safety and accountability. Like Ira, it is important to document abuses by police. Furthermore, we can connect folks to resources, healing tools, and legal referrals.
Ira has a scheduled court date on July 22, 2019. We will post updates on future court dates and encourage you to come support.
Know your rights -- Guide to Cop Watching
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO THIS!
•to be in a public place and to observe police activity.
•Stop and watch
•Write down officers’ names, badge
numbers, and car numbers. (PC sec. 830.10).
•Write down the time, date, and
place of the incident and all details
as soon as possible.
•Ask if the person is being arrested,
and if so, on what charge.
•Get witnesses’ names and contact
•Try to get the arrestee’s name, but
only if they already gave it to the
•Document any injuries as soon as
possible. Photograph them and
have a medical report describing
details of the injuries.
TIPS FOR TRANS FOLKS DEALING WITH COPS
If the answer is “no,” you are free to go. Cops
have a right to detain you for a short period of
time if they have reasonable suspicion that you
have or are about to commit a crime;
If the answer is “yes,” and you are under
arrest, you have a right to know why.
Police may still search your possessions or your person even if you said you do not consent and there is no warrant. If this happens, try your best
The TGIJP office is open 10am to 6pm and if you are arrested between those hours call: 415. 554. 8491
If someone has been arrested and you would like to know which precinct they are being held, call this 24hr line:
Cop Watch Pocket Guide -- https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/9faa72_2bbb6a9719c2426eadc40593aeca2984.pdf
APTP Guide -- http://justiceteams.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/APTP_view_single.pdf
In-depth San Francisco Know Your Right For Law Enforcement Encounter -- https://nlgsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/KYRpamphletSF.pdf
Know Your Rights for the Trans Community -- https://nlgsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Trans-KYR-Criminal-2014.pdf
For three days, members of TGIJP received political education from Jai Celestial of Soft Boi Consulting around The Axes of Oppression, Gender Justice, and Grassroots Organizing. During those three days, Rose Wonderfabulous - a healer from Tennesse, offered bodywork, reiki, and tarot card reading.
Ms. Billie Cooper, who was chosen as one of the Grand Marshals for Pride 2019, was in attendance as well as many of TGIJP’s longtime members. They all gathered in the TGIJP office, decorated with snacks, lunch, and flow charts encompassing the many themes of the retreat. One theme was to provide a deeper understanding of how to set change in motion and learning how to work with the next generation to continue the change. Another theme included how to empower each other as abolitionists that do work differently.
Posters that defined White Supremacy, Capitalism, and Patriarchy covered the walls, reinforcing what our members already knew but with different language. Questions littered the room asking: What does it mean to fight multiple systems working together through the lens of gender justice? What does it mean to be the ones transforming these things and creating something new? Each day included a POP: Purpose, Outcomes, and Process, to get participants' brain juices flowing and to stoke conversation. Many of the folks in attendance loved the retreat and expressed that there is not enough of this type of work being done. It’s important that there exist convenings of trans women of color, especially Black trans women, and most importantly formerly incarcerated Black trans women.
What do these retreats provide for Black trans women and trans women of color?
How can you host your own retreat?
Write a funding proposal (Many of these funders provide step by step instructions for writing a funding proposal.)
Fundraising within your community (Grassroots Fundraising)
If folks are interested in approaching TGIJP, we may be able to assist you in a project or event.
Are we doing what we need to do to make our loved ones feel safe during pride? Not as long as police are involved.
It is important to provide sanctuaries for TLGBQIA2S folks of color, especially formerly incarcerated Black trans women, to celebrate themselves and their communities, and that can't happen with the police present. Many more communities are negatively impacted at Pride as well and there are other aspects that need to be addressed to make Pride safe. Here is a list of conditions during pride that makes communities unsafe.
1. Increased jail population for homeless communities: During Pride, the city increases funding to the San Francisco Police Department to initiate sweeps at Civic Center and Powell to “clean up” the streets for tourists and Pride guests. This causes homeless people to be displaced and jailed. The money that is invested in police sweeps can be reallocated to train communities and organizations in de-escalation and problem-solving training. The city also increases funding to the San Francisco Police Department for increased police presence in the Tenderloin. The Tenderloin is the safest district for the most marginalized LGBTQIA communities and heightened police increases arrests and furthers displacement.
2. Not financially accessible: It’s not affordable to all communities to buy food from vendors during Pride. Prices are disproportionately increased during Pride and we don’t know who benefits from that flow of money. An alternative would be discounted activities, food, and beverages for low-income communities attending Pride.
3. Not accessible to disabled communities: There is not enough wheelchair space, not enough chairs, and not enough different accessible options. There should be paid volunteers to support people with different accessibility needs. There should be increased access the bathrooms and drinking water.
4. Commercialized and corporatized: Ban corporations investing and benefiting financially from the Prison Industrial Complex! Pride began as anti-police and anti-prison, it would be a disservice to provide space for those corporations.
5. False sense of pride at Pride: Pride does not celebrate the most marginalized LGBTQIA communities: Black trans women, trans women of color, disabled LGBTQIA, Intersex, and people with low to no income. Pride is celebrating while breaking these communities down, and at the same time, not including them
In addition to TGIJP, St. James Infirmary and BreakOUT are organizations that have "walked out of Pride" in the past.
Toronto, Canada has banned police in their Pride Toronto parade https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/pride-toronto-members-vote-to-keep-uniformed-police-officers-out-of-parade-1.4265114?fbclid=IwAR1sPNYhQMv-0SJAGUubcc2aLv1Hc2nUReo_lB2iynPMeuAq9vkC-LP-HOo
Teen Vogue agrees No Cops at Pride https://www.teenvogue.com/story/why-police-arent-welcome-at-pride?fbclid=IwAR3ed941zH5wZEd4jC1mSKm6-AmNm1lzqsGKN4NfQRP1clAP3s-1kucWXug
Decarceration is the act of freeing our loved ones from institutions. The institutions exist as jails, prisons, reformed jails and prisons, immigration custody, and more. This is one part of the definition of decarceration and another part of the definition comes from understanding the impact of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).
Who do we want to free from institutions? Everyone. Since we are TGIJP, we are going to put emphasis on our most vulnerable community: freeing Black trans women.
And yes, everyone. I’ll get to that later.
What else is included in decarceration? Decarceration means more than getting folks out of jails and prisons. Other than freeing our loved ones from cages, the next steps are healing from the debilitating trauma of being incarcerated, improving quality of life and not limiting the quality of life for loved ones released, healing familial and communal trauma with adequate resources/harm reduction and accountability, and continuing the fight to ultimately abolish the Prison Industrial Complex.
So what do all of the points listed above actually mean? How can we begin the steps towards decarceration? How can we begin the step to highlighting our most vulnerable on the path to decarceration?
The PIC does not offer solutions for healing after being traumatized from the Prison Industrial Complex. Once our loved ones are released, they are dependent on court systems and police enforced services and no stand-alone mental health services. This is intentional because it makes police, courts, and surveillance a necessary part of our daily lives while making it harder for us to get the resources we actually need. What we need is high-quality mental health services for our loved ones released. The tinge of incarceration leaves a lasting effect on our loved ones and without proper help, our loved ones can end up re-incarcerated. We want to avoid re-incarceration to continue decarceration. While some mental health services exist, many are operated under the Sheriff’s Departments, courts, or other punitive systems. The post-release systems use punitive solutions to more harshly impact Black and brown bodies, even more so with Black trans women. These systems aren’t designed for us to thrive individually or as part of Black trans, gender-variant, and intersex communities, I mean, they aren’t designed to be successful to anyone, but they are especially disciplinary to those communities.
We need to abolish systems of continuous punishment alike to restrictive, mandatory and punitive/court-ordered programs, police as service providers, restrictive access to state funded resources, electronic monitoring, and more to strive towards decarceration, and break that chain of reincarceration. Continuing punishment after time served decreases the quality of life for our loved ones as they remain trapped in the system even after being released from physical cages. Punitive punishment is the abstract cage. Then, we need language around learning the gifts and talents of our folks, making sure they have access to opportunities when they are released. These opportunities should be completely removed from all parts of the Prison Industrial Complex--that includes sheriffs departments--and based in the communities and organizations that actually help us to survive and thrive.
How can the community stride towards decarceration? Start with alternative ways of addressing harm and community accountability. Start with crisis intervention that is community-based. These are actions that can reduce or eliminate police involvement and further eliminate incarceration. The community can create more resources, alternatives to housing, housing stability once housed, access to harm reduction, food, clothing, and more. In addition to, communities should have access to services once a loved one is released. Families and loved ones can build relationships and with their children when released. They can repair family and community damages. The trauma of incarceration is widespread. Strong communities are the glue to aid in keeping released loved ones safe and out of the system.
I know you just read a lot and it probably feels overwhelming, but reading this is the first step and I’m proud of you. You can start with small steps, really huge steps, or whatever is within your capacity. I’m going to plug some resources below and some allies to check out -- start a dialogue -- come to mail night at TGIJP -- start an abolition chapter in your neighborhood! We love you and together we can continue the fight.
With love and power,
Janetta Johnson and the TGIJP Family
Abolitionist Toolkit -- http://criticalresistance.org/resources/the-abolitionist-toolkit/
Addressing Harm, Accountability, and Healing -- http://criticalresistance.org/resources/addressing-harm-accountability-and-healing/
Community Accountability Wordpress -- https://communityaccountability.wordpress.com/
Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence -- http://www.creative-interventions.org/tools/toolkit/
Survived and Punished Restorative Resources for Survivors -- https://survivedandpunished.org/analysis/
Involuntary Mental Health Services and Mandated Reporting is a Form of Carceration -- https://mirrormemoirs.com/call-for-participants/
How do we stop the killings of Black trans people and dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex as a whole? Justice for Muhlaysia and Michelle
In response to our sister, Muhlaysia Booker
It has happened again. As we bury yet another Black trans woman whose valuable voice was silenced and whose precious life was drastically shortened, we can no longer afford to believe mouthed intentions. We need action from everyone who purports to be a protector and nurturer of Black trans lives. Are you a bystander while Black trans women are being killed - or are you an upstander? If you actually care about Black trans women’s lives - show it - step up. Now. Another life has been lost and we find ourselves spiraling in grief and fury. Muhlaysia Booker was shot and killed just weeks after surviving a vicious attack by a mob of people in Dallas, TX. Less than 24 hours after her death another Black trans woman, Michelle Washington, was found dead in Philadelphia, PA. Now is not a time for statements of mourning or solidarity. Now is a time for ACTION. All communities come together for action. NOW!
Black trans women experience violence, trauma, and deep losses across our community every single day. We know what we need to survive, to thrive, and to create the world we’re all fighting for. It is time to invest not only in the solutions, but the actual people that have shaped & sharpened the solutions we need based on our lived experiences. We are capable & competent enough to take care of our own, we just need the resources to do so.
If you don’t care enough to take action for Black trans women outside of your funding cycle then say it & stop using us to fund your cis white-led organizations. Don’t you dare exploit Black trans folks for the benefit of white-led organizations. Stop hiring one Black trans woman to show how much you prioritize our community without investing in our community as a whole. We face some of the highest rates of imprisonment, recidivism, violence, housing instability, unemployment, and discrimination. If you are not invested in Black trans safety, say it. Unless we are a part of the power structure & decision-making process, don’t claim that you’re out here fighting for Black trans lives if we don’t have an actual seat at the table.
The hurt, sadness, grief & loss we experienced at the hands of both systemic and interpersonal violence MUST be addressed. We need healing, we need safety, and we need to not be the only ones doing the work to challenge white supremacy, transphobia, and toxic masculinity. We need to challenge what safety looks like for all Black women. The solutions are not found by looking to police or prisons--institutions that have for a long time decimated Black trans community--but rather to ourselves & to our allies because our liberation is tied & none of the work matters if our people are still being forgotten or left behind.
How do we organize around Black trans safety? How do we memorialize Black trans people being murdered? How do we stop the killings of Black trans people and dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) as a whole? We do it together. We do it by organizations stepping up not only with words, but action. Every single person fighting for trans rights, or Black liberation, or against the PIC: If that is the goal you are fighting for, Black trans women must be a central part of the work. Not just in thought or theory--but in the room and at the table because we were the first phone call you made and the first invitation you extended.
If you see yourself as an ally or organizer, ask yourself: What relationships have I built with Black trans people and organizations? Am I aware of issues impacting Black trans people and do I reach out to the folks I know when issues arise? Are there Black trans people that know they can reach out to me if they need safety or support? How am I centering the expertise of Black trans women when it comes to addressing issues of domestic violence, public safety, healing justice, disability justice, reproductive justice, housing justice, and more?
Black cis men this is your chance. Your chance to check your brothers, defend your trans siblings, and prevent so much of the violence faced by Black women--trans and cis--on a daily basis. The normalization of transphobia, homophobia, and sexism grow these ideas from thoughts & beliefs to acts of violence all too frequently. Have courageous conversations with your brothers and loved ones, show up for ALL Black lives, and support Black trans women trying to make it past 35.
Today, TGIJP will be holding space for Black trans women to celebrate the life of Muhlaysia Booker and all of the Black trans lives that have been lost.
Here are some ways that you can take action & show up for Black trans lives:
As always, be safe & stay strong!
Janetta Johnson & the TGIJP Family
Since our last statement in Spring 2017 we are deeply saddened & enraged to acknowledge that the onslaught of murders of Black trans women continues.
As of today, there have been 22 murders in the U.S. of trans & gender non-conforming people in 2018, 16 of them Black trans women & gender non-conforming people. The latest being Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier in Chicago just this past Wednesday.
The constant attack on the bodies & lives of Black trans women must come to an end! In this time of openly racist, sexist, transphobic & homophobic sentiment not only by the general public but also those in political office we have to ask one another: What is your commitment to the lives, safety & liberation of Black trans women? How do you support their leadership & livelihoods? How do you check & challenge microaggressions & instances of outright transphobia from those in your home, workplace, classroom or broader community?
As abolitionists we know that we cannot depend on police or prisons to ensure safety for our communities. We MUST look to each other— family, friends, comrades & accomplices—to create the solutions we need so that a Black trans woman living past the age of 35 is no longer an anomaly. What privileges or resources are you willing to leverage to ensure that Black trans women have safe spaces to sleep at night? To keep them from being pushed out of the neighborhoods they have helped to shape & sustain like in the Compton’s Trans Cultural District? These are not asks for a handout—this is simply a request for the receipts from all who say they love & support Black trans women as they continue to be slain in the streets across the country.
WE are the ones that keep each other safe. WE are the experts in our own experiences & know exactly what we need. This is a time to listen to our Black trans sisters & siblings that are at the epicenter of this violence & ensure that their voices are amplified while centering their basic needs & healing. This is a time to expand our understandings of what safety & justice look like beyond police, courts & cages. This is a time to have those uncomfortable conversations with our loved ones that have been shaped by & support a culture that allows for gender-based & transphobic violence against Black trans women.
What you can do:
Nothing about this work is simple. Nothing about this work is easy. When it comes to matters of life & death we have to dig deep, fight hard & love even harder to create a world where Black trans women can truly thrive. We have to be clear & concrete about our commitment to Black trans liberation & push ourselves to embody that commitment every single day. If you can’t name what your commitment is, if you haven’t taken action to bring us closer to the safety & liberation we are fighting for--now is the time, because our sisters can’t wait.
As always, be safe & stay strong!
Janetta Johnson & the TGIJP Family
Three Black transgender women were brutally murdered on the last weekend of February. Their names were Chyna Dupree, Ciara McElveen and Jaquarrius Holland. TGI Justice Project is deeply saddened to witness such a great community loss and, like many, we have been grieving this tremendous loss.
Thus far in 2017, at least seven trans women of color have been murdered in the United States. Last year at this time, there were at least five murders of transgender people, a number which increased to 27 (that were reported) by the end of 2016.
To make matters worse, the Trump administration is taking away life-saving protections for transgender children and their families, creating an environment ripe for shaming, bullying, hate crimes, and suicide. It is no coincidence that these events have occurred simultaneously—in fact, these events speak to the heart-wrenching realities of violence that transgender people face every day.
While we at TGIJP have long advocated for transgender, gender nonconforming, and intersex people to be affirmed exactly as we are, this year, like every year before it, began with the devastating reminder that we have a long way to go to get there.
Attacks on Black transgender people are occurring interpersonally and systemically through violent transphobia in government, at church, and in our own homes. The refusal of many to have honest conversations about why Black transgender women are killed with impunity only emboldens the people who kill us.
Transphobia is as deeply rooted in our society as it is dangerous. It exists in all of us, because in America that is how we are socialized – to adhere to a prescriptive set of traditional gender identities and conservative values that leave little room for freedom of choice or individuality. Eliminating transphobia, and stopping the violence perpetuated against Black trans women in particular, requires each of us to be daring enough to reflect on how we have all contributed to it, and to be mindful of how we have, whether we are aware of it or not, given rise to an environment in which transgender people are in danger doing everyday activities like walking down the street, going to work, or having a cup of coffee. It requires educators to begin teaching lessons on the history of transgender people, for legislators to take seriously their job to protect every single person they claim to represent, and for everyday people to intervene when witnessing violence against trans people.
Ultimately, ending violence against trans people requires those who are not transgender to listen to and respect the needs of transgender people, and for each of us to unearth in ourselves a lifelong commitment to advocating on behalf of each other.
In Black communities, we’ve raised awareness about the pervasiveness of gender-based violence and the impact that violence has on everyone involved. However, violence against and the murdering of Black transgender women at the hands of Black men who are not transgender goes unchecked by everyone. Our communities have begun to address violence against Black women who are not transgender, but this has not been extended to Black transgender women, and we should be asking ourselves why.
The fight for civil rights for Black people is alive and strong. Many of the tools we need to abolish anti-Black transphobia exist within that fight, and we are the ones to do it. We have always demanded to not be treated prejudicially because of who we are and what we look like. Now, Black people have a responsibility to hold people who are transphobic in our communities accountable for their discrimination.
We can do this by critically examining the values at the core of people’s bigotry, and by having courageous conversations with those who are closest to us about where they learn to be transphobic. These are ways in which we can start to confront the transphobia in ourselves and, even more importantly, commit to eliminating it. We must uphold and take seriously the collective responsibility of every person to learn about, understand, and realize the full range of human rights that transgender people are due.
This is most important because Black transgender people, who live at the dangerous intersection of gender-based violence and anti-Blackness, are the fulcrum of the success of anti-discrimination protections – if Black trans women are not safe, none of us are safe. For transphobia to be abolished, every individual person has a role to play. At the center of all this is acknowledging the long-standing system that allows people with male privilege to exercise tremendous violence against those without that privilege – in other words, patriarchy.
Our communities are on constant defense from the daily harassment, violence and abuse they face and are eager to find ways to stay safe and to stay alive. People without this experience can’t imagine what it’s like to worry incessantly if the people you’re in relationship or community with want to do you harm. When you are facing real physical and mental violence from everyone around you - from strangers to doctors, legislators to social workers - life becomes about basic survival, and living a fulfilling life becomes impossible. To add insult to injury, there are no protections at the state or federal level for Black transgender women acting in self-defense to protect ourselves. But while the system was not designed to protect us, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we deserve to live and to be affirmed.
The mandate for Black people and everyone now is to transform ourselves and our conditions by both confronting state violence and confronting every day, gender-based and transphobic violence against Black trans women. We ask that you join us in this commitment to keeping Black trans women and trans women of color safe; we ask that you offer up everything you can in this moment as an ally, as a comrade, and as our family. Ask yourselves what little steps you can take to intervene on transphobia as a daily practice. We encourage you to start working on the local and regional level--find organizations in your area like BreakOUT!, El/La Para Translatinas, Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SnapCo), or Audre Lorde Project that directly invest in and center the leadership of transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. Donate your time, energy and money into these local efforts and find ways to be in meaningful relationship with them. Creating a culture of safety is much larger than the task to “stop killing Black trans women;” what we are suggesting instead is the possibility that we can all prevent and intervene against this violence daily. If you have an extra room to offer up to someone in need, if you have a meal to spare, or if you can walk with someone and make sure they get home safely--these are all ways we can begin to create a culture of safety among one another. Remember that this work begins and ends with each of us individually. And, we are all uniquely a part of a stronger collective community, which, when strong at the foundation, can make great shifts systematically toward solidifying the world we truly want to see.
With love from,
Janetta Johnson and the TGIJP family
Be safe and stay strong!