by Bryn and Aaron, MTPC Interns
Women’s History Month is an important time to promote and commemorate women’s contributions throughout history. For us here at MTPC, it is also a time to reflect on the current work that trans women are doing across the country. Below are just a few of the efforts we will celebrate in future looks at women’s history.
1. Cece McDonald
Cece McDonald has taken on the unjust criminalization of black trans women from the moment she fought back when taunted and assaulted for her identity to her continuing commitment to fighting for the rights of other trans women of color. In a recent interview with SocialistWorker.org, Cece was quoted as saying, “I wanted to be the person who fought this system–to let them know that I wasn’t scared and that I’m going to do whatever I need to make sure my voice is heard.” Cece’s fearlessness is making history by bringing together different communities to fight injustice: “The revolution is now. We’re a generation that’s making change, and what we do will affect the kind of world that our children and grandchildren will inherit.”*
2. Cecilia Chung
Cecilia Chung, a senior advisor for the Transgender Law Center, was just named Woman of the Year by the California Legislature for her work in breaking down barriers to achieve equality. Chung takes on injustice with the mindset that “our separate struggles are really one,”* focusing on the intersection of identities and the compassion that can be shared across these identities. Her values have shaped the mission and programs of the Transgender Law Center, where she continues to advocate for cultural competency, inclusion, and safety for all.
3. Pamela Raintree
Transgender representation in American politics is sparse, leaving many transgender people feeling voiceless. Pamela Raintree, a citizen of Shreveport, Louisiana, did not let political opposition stop her from fighting for her rights. In response to a City Council member’s efforts to repeal a local LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Shreveport, Pamela called out the council member for saying that the Bible says LGBT people are abominations. Holding a stone firmly in her hand, Pamela challenged this discrimination: “Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death. I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smokescreen for personal prejudices.”* Pamela’s powerful words caused the council member to withdraw the repeal moments later!
4. Bamby Salcedo
As a fierce advocate for the transgender Latina community, Bamby Salcedo heads up the Trans Latin@ Coalition and runs Angels of Change, which raises money for the medical expenses of trans youth. She works tirelessly with members of the community and policymakers, using her strength to speak out and push society forward. Her work specifically with HIV-positive trans youth has touched hundreds. Today, she continues to be a pioneer for transgender rights by refusing to be made invisible and demanding the respect her community deserves.
5. Robina Asti
Robina Asti, a 92-year-old badass (sorry–we mean WWII veteran), refused to let the US Social Security Administration deny her rights simply because she’s transgender. After the death of her husband, the SSA did not give her spousal benefits, incorrectly claiming that at the time of the marriage she was not a woman and so was not legally entitled to the money. Robina’s fight for equality and the validation of her loving marriage is both inspiring and affirming that these injustices are finally starting to become unacceptable. Robina received her first Social Security check on Valentine’s Day, saying, “I felt like it was my husband Norwood’s Valentine’s Day gift to me. I’m glad that Social Security finally came to its senses. I hope this means that other people won’t have to experience this.”*