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Trans Awareness Month is in full swing. Every year we take the month of November to raise awareness, celebrate, and honor trans lives and experiences across the country.
Here in Massachusetts, the month started strong with an amazing turn out in North Andover for “Meet your Transgender Neighbor.” Over 140 people came out for a panel discussion, hosted by MTPC Steering Committee clerk Michelle Tat. Events like these are essential to raising awareness for trans lives in our communities.
This week there are dozens of events in honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. These events are important reminders of the violence our community faces due to anti-trans bias and discrimination. 2017 has proven to be another of the deadliest years on record for trans people. As with previous years, the intersections of racism, sexism, and transphobia are horrifically over represented in the list of those who have been taken from us. We must understand and address sexism and racism in our communities if we hope to see these numbers of deaths decrease in the future. This year we honor the lives of those who have been taken from us:
Murdered December 19, 2016
29 Years Old
Newport News, Virginia
Murdered January 4, 2017
41 Years Old
Executed January 6, 2017
23 Years Old
Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow
Found Murdered on January 6, 2017
28 Years Old
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Murdered on February 8, 2017
23 Years Old
Murdered on February 19, 2017
18 Years Old
Tiara Richmond (aka Keke Collier)
Murdered on February 21, 2017
24 Years Old
Chyna Doll Dupree (aka Chyna Gibson)
Murdered on February 25, 2017
31 Years Old
New Orleans, Louisiana
Murdered on February 27, 2017
25 Years Old
New Orleans, Louisiana
Murdered on March 22, 2017
38 Years Old
Murdered on March 8, 2017
27 Years Old
San Antonio, Texas
Murdered on March 21, 2017
28 Years Old
Murdered on April 4, 2017
49 Years Old
New York CIty, New York
Murdered on May 16, 2017
46 Years Old
Charlotte, North Carolina
Kendra Marie Adams (Josie Barrios)
Found Murdered on June 13, 2017
28 Years Old
Ithaca, New York
Ava Le’Ray Barrin
Murdered on June 25, 2017
17 Years Old
Murdered on July 2, 2017
28 Years Old
Murdered on July 31, 2017
32 Years Old
Murdered on July 8,2017
29 Years Old
Gwynevere River Song
Murdered on August 8, 2017
26 Years old
Executed on August 22, 2017
30 Years Old
St. Louis, Illinois
Kashmire Nazier Redd
Murdered on September 4, 2017
28 Years Old
Gates, New York
Found Murdered on September 3, 2017
17 Years Old
Texas County, Missouri
Murdered on September 12, 2017
26 Years Old
Charlotte, North Carolina
Executed on September 16, 2017
21 Years Old
Murdered on October 21, 2017
47 Years Old
Corpus Christi, Texas
Murdered on October 28, 2017
30 Years Old
Rest in power.
For more information and photos of those taken from us visit: http://www.transnetworking.com/tdor2017_list/
The secret is in the crust. I found a recipe that uses shortening to make it flakey and vodka (Russians!) to make it smooth. As much as I love to cook, baking is not a task that comes easily to me. But I do especially love eating pies, and Thanksgiving just doesn’t feel right until I tuck into a slice of pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of whip cream.
I recently learned that when Franklin McCain sat down at that Woolworth counter in February 1960, he asked for a slice of apple pie. Four black students seeking integration in public accommodations chose eating as an act of protest, and by doing so they shifted the narrative of civil rights. This is such a rich image in my mind; apple pie is often touted as the symbol of Americana. And in that moment, four black men having a slice of pie in a public place became a statement about who does or doesn’t belong in that image of Americana.
Only a few years later, in 1965, the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia held a sit in at Dewey’s Lunch Counter. This action, sparked by the owner’s new policy to deny service to those in “gender non-conformist clothing,” brought out approximately 150 trans and gender nonconforming people, led predominately by people of color. Together, they sat and ordered pie, risking discrimination, hostility, and abuse for their right to share a meal. And this, (followed later by Compton’s Cafeteria riot), occurred years before the well known Stonewall Riot.
Fast forward to July 2016, to the day the Transgender Public Accommodations bill was being debated in the Mass State House. Representative John Fernandes in his speech supporting the bill made the connection again to the civil rights movement. “You can’t tell people it’s OK to work at the diner, but it’s not to sit at the lunch counter. We learned that a long time ago.” He was the first of many legislators who would go on to vote in favor of the bill becoming law.
But then I left the chamber, and walked into the public foyer. There I watched as dozens of citizens verbally sparred about human decency, often grossly assuming that transgender people were the herald of sexual violence; I myself engaged in one such debate. And even though I was horrified by what our opponents were saying (and indeed shouting), I realize only now, that I was doing the same thing to them that they were doing to me. I was making assumptions about who they were, their upbringing, their ideologies and their morals. I cast them as the villain in my own hero story.
But just like a good piece of pie, the truth is so much more layered and rich. On paper, I have many ingredients that define me and make me into the queer trans man of color who I am. And rather than make assumptions about the wrapper, I always ask that people speak to me so that they can learn more about who I am and what I hope for. But I also need to be willing to swing that door in the other direction as well. The person who I engaged from the opposition was Asian, and because of her age and our shared race, she reminded me of my own mother.
In the past several weeks we at MTPC have seen some very scary harbingers of what’s to come. The law that we all worked so very hard to pass is already vulnerable to a ballot recall, and in 2018, everyday citizens will be given the choice to repeal it. In light of this, I am asking for your help to shift the narrative of civil rights. If I had the chance to sit with that woman and engaged with her as a unique human being, in short treated her the way I treat my mother, would she still have the heart to reject our pleas? If we could sit down and share a slice of pie together, would she still be a stranger to me? Because as I’ve said in the past, only a stranger would deny us our rights.
So bake a pie and share it with your next door neighbor. Listen to them when they talk about their hopes and dreams. Chat about what makes us all human in this crazy and illogical world. Find out the secret to their pie crust. And enjoy a slice of pie for me. Happy Pie Day.
by Kelly, Community and Policy Intern with MTPC
The stories we know about the trans community affect how we think about and perceive the community. Too often these stories exclude Black trans people. Last year for Black History Month, MTPC featured 5 Black Trans Women Who Paved the Way. This year we have 4 Black Trans Men Whose Stories We Should Know. These are just a few among many stories of trans men of color that we as a community are not telling. Let’s make sure we are including these stories and the stories of other Black trans men in how we imagine our community.
Willmer “Little Ax” Broadnax
Born in Houston in 1916, Willmer “Little Ax” Broadnax was a gospel singer who performed with groups such as the Southern Gospel Singers, the Golden Echoes, the Spirit of Memphis, the Fairfield Four, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, and Little Axe and the Golden Voices from 1939 through the 1980s. He was known as a powerful tenor and a “heroic screamer, holding his own with some of the strongest leads.”
He and his brother William “Big Ax” Broadnax started their careers singing with Houston’s St. Paul Gospel Singers before moving to Los Angeles and joining the South Gospel Singers. Willmer left the South Gospel Singers and formed the Golden Echoes in order to tour. Willmer continued performing and touring with various groups, including his own quartet, “Little Axe and the Golden Voices” into the 1960s. He continued to record with the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi through the 1980s. You can hear the voice of “Little Axe” here and here.
On May 23, 1992, Willmer was stabbed by his girlfriend after a heated argument and passed away on June 1, 1992. It was discovered upon his death that Willmer was assigned female at birth.
Born in Meridian, Mississippi, in 1924, Jim McHarris disliked all things feminine in himself as a child but appreciated feminine girls as his dating partners. Beginning in 1939, he lived as a man moving frequently across the country. In 1953, he moved to Kosciusko, Mississippi, and began building a life. Over the next three months he became engaged to a woman, worked at a gas station, and was involved in the True Tabernacle Church. At the True Tabernacle Church, he was scheduled to be elevated to a deacon position even with Bishop Smiley Jones’s knowledge of Jim’s assigned sex.
In 1954, he was pulled over and arrested. As the officers pat him down, his assigned sex was revealed. Although it is not clear what motivated this action, Jim stripped off all his clothes and revealed his breasts and genitalia in front of the judge and arresting officers to “prove” he was “born female.” Jim was sentenced to 30 day in jail at the prison farm. Jim dressed in men’s clothes but was housed with a female prisoner. After he was released from jail, he was shunned by the community and left Kosciusko. In the 1954 EBONY article that featured his story, Jim said “I ain’t done nothing wrong and I ain’t breaking no laws.” After this ordeal Jim continued to live as a man.
Marcelle Cook-Daniels was a national transmasculine African-American leader as well as a dedicated father, son, and partner. He worked as a computer programmer and analyst as his day job while also contributing to many national and local conferences and organizations including the 1999 Creating Change conference, the 1998 Butch-FTM: Building Coalitions Through Dialogue event, several True Spirit Conferences, and The American Boyz. He was a supporter of COLAGE and the Transgender Aging Network because of his commitment to family, openness, and public service.
He did not shy away from addressing the intersections of race and gender. In an article he wrote with his life partner Loree, “My Life As an Erroneous Sonogram,” Marcelle said “in the back of my mind I always knew that gender realignment would make me a black male in society where black males are tolerated at best and hated and feared at worst… If anything being black has stood in my way of accepting my maleness” (194).
Marcelle lost his lifelong battle with depression on April 21, 2000. He is remembered by the community a major pioneering leader for his commitment to intersectional understandings of identity and community.
Alexander “Bear” Goodrum was a Chicago native who was an active social justice organizer from the 1980s until his death in 2002. As an African-American, transgender, queer, disabled activist, his work stretched across all these communities. After moving to Tucson in 1996, Alexander quickly became a leader serving on City of Tucson GLBT Commission and an Activist/Panelist for the Funding Exchange’s OutFund for Gay and Lesbian Liberation as well as being an active member of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, Wingspan (Tucson’s GLBT Community Center), and Desert Voices (Arizona’s GLBT mixed chorus).
In 2000 he founded TGNet based on his groundbreaking document, “Gender Identity 101: A Transgender Primer.” One of TGNet’s most significant projects was the Arizona Transgender Workplace (ATWORK) Project, which serves to create and foster open, inclusive, and safe working environments for transgender applicants and employees by promoting an understanding of gender identity and expression among managers and supervisory personnel.
In the Fall of 2002, Alexander sought mental health assistance. He died by suicide on September 28 while under observation at La Frontera Psychiatric Hospital in Tucson. The Southern Arizona Gender Alliance created the Goodrum Project to help support and empower transgender people in seeking mental health services while educating mental health service providers in honor of Alexander.
Last night we witnessed Boston’s response to the grand jury ruling against indicting the police officer responsible for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. There were over a thousand people who took to the streets to push back against the dehumanizing tragedy that took place in Ferguson.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, the people of Ferguson, Missouri, and all those using their voice to push back on the violence, bias, and systemic oppression which has been so clearly portrayed in the recent events. This cannot, and should not, be ignored.
As an organization whose leadership is predominantly white, we recognize the great importance of using our racial privilege to push back on systems of oppression. We stand as an allied organization with all those organizing in Boston, Ferguson, and across the country. #BlackLivesMatter
We are committed to engaging with communities of color in active listening and support during this troubling time.
Black communities deserve justice, without the fear of violence or discrimination. Black communities deserve to be heard. Black communities deserve peace. Until these things can be guaranteed, we will continue to use our voice to push back against this discriminatory system.
To all communities striving for justice around the country, stay safe, and stay strong.
May meets June: The intersection of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and queerness
by Maxwell Ng, MTPC Steering Committee Vice-Chair
In May I celebrate and honor the work that has been done by my Asian and Pacific Islander brothers, sisters and siblings in the fight against racism. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the completion by Chinese laborers on the transcontinental railroad as well as the first immigration of a Japanese person to the United States.
And in June I remember and honor the work that my LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings have done in the fight against homo/transphobia. June is the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event that is credited for creating the modern LGBTQ Civil Rights movement.
While most of the time, it feels like this work is distinctive, isolated and separate, for me as a second generation Asian American and an out transman, these worlds have always been linked.
Have you looked at a map recently? Asia is big. Really big. There are 49 countries in Asia, a region that stretches from Saudi Arabia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and includes 60% of the world’s population. “Asia” as a concept was created when westerners were exploring the globe looking for exotic lands and rare spices. In fact, the earliest disputes about the border between Asia and the “western” world were centered on the Caucasus Mountains and so we interpret Asian to mean other.
Today “Asian Pacific-Islander” is a geopolitical term that refers to blobs of color on an atlas that are approximately close to each other. But in the “melting pot” of American race politics, to be API means you have yellow skin and slanty eyes. It possibly also means you’re good at math, have demanding parents and slur your Rs. To be Asian American is to remove all the subtlety and nuance of a rich cultural heritage and to boil it down to a degrading stereotype that was created during the Wild West, institutionalized at Tule Lake, and given household recognition by Stanley Kubrick.
I remember as a child in the early 80s, my mother would caution me repeatedly, “Make sure you tell people you’re Chinese.” The fear was that if people thought I was Vietnamese, I would be construed as The Enemy because “we all look alike”. In 1982, Vincent Chin was bludgeoned to death by two Detroit autoworkers. Even though he was not an autoworker, or Japanese, they blamed him personally for the rise of Japanese automobile companies. He was brutally murdered for the way he looked and the perceptions of his race. In the months immediately following, Asians all over this country realized that it didn’t matter where we were born or who our parents were, we would still be labeled a Chink, a Jap, a Gook, and hated for simply because we are different. Vincent’s murder inspired a movement of togetherness that has lived to this day. In fact, immediately after the attacks on 9/11, Japanese Americans who survived Tule Lake were the first to come out in solidarity to make sure the same institutionalized racism didn’t happen again to Muslim Americans.
I talk about these things incessantly because so many people don’t know the fundamental link between racism and homophobia the way I have experienced. Vincent Chin’s murder changed hate crime legislation in the United States. Something that happened again with the murder of Matthew Shepard. So much of the hatred in this country is based on perception of power. Most recently, a troubled misogynistic young man went on a killing spree in Isla Vista aimed at the women he perceived to reject him. It is difficult to rationalize any of his actions or his beliefs, but it is very obvious that his own internalized racism at his half Asian self was a contributing factor to his self loathing.
Intersection Junction, what’s your function?
The simple truth is that no one’s identity is simple. For me, my world and life are profoundly shaped by the color of my skin. I have long said that the two things people see about me are (1) my race and then (2) my gender. Before I say a single word, they assume that I don’t speak English, and that I will be submissive to them. 2011 statistics show 46.9% of hate crimes were motivated by race and 20.8% by sexual orientation. In my own life I have been subjected to decades of microaggressions that are in accordance with those statistics.
Read More …
by Aaron, MTPC intern
Today’s transgender spotlight is about We’wha (pronounced WAY-wah), a Zuni Native American whose life was one of advocacy for her tribe and artistry in her craft. Some would refer to her as two spirit, a term that generally describes Native Americans who occupy non-normative or multiple gender roles. This is actually a very recent term, established by the Indigenous Lesbian and Gay International Gathering in 1990 in an effort to reclaim gender diversity and replace the derogatory term berdache, which was used by foreign intruders to shame gender variance. Not every tribe recognizes two spirit people, nor do communities all have the same traditions, terms, or roles for two spirit people. We’wha was a lhamana (LHA-mana), the term used by Zunis to refer to male-bodied people who are “like a woman.”
Born in 1849 into New Mexico’s Zuni tribe, where lhamanas were highly respected, We’wha was trained in the traditionally female crafts of weaving and pottery. Her talent in the arts was well known and valued in her community and beyond, as was her gift for spiritual leadership. Learning English at an early age allowed We’wha to make connections with visitors to the region and educate them about Zuni traditions, and she eventually became a Zuni ambassador. As a representative of her tribe, We’wha was the first Zuni to travel to Washington, DC, in the 1880s, where she met with diplomats, congressmen, and … drum roll, please … President Grover Cleveland.
It is clear from newspaper articles at the time and stories of We’wha’s travels that folks in DC were instantly smitten with her but apparently unaware of her lhamana identity. During the several months she spent in the city, We’wha gave a weaving presentation at the Smithsonian, participated in a show at the National Theater, and befriended Speaker of the House John G. Carlisle. While she seemed to enjoy and take advantage of her new celebrity status, her intention was to educate leaders about her tribe and debunk myths about Zunis and other Native Americans in a culture that encouraged (and continues to encourage) cultural assimilation.
Her art was celebrated from New Mexico to DC and played a central role in helping Native American art gain recognition in the fine arts world. Despite an unjust arrest and month-long imprisonment for defending the Pueblo’s governor against authorities during a conflict in 1892, We’wha continued to educate anthropologists and represent her tribe with pride. Matilda Stevenson, an anthropologist who was befriended by We’wha, described her as intelligent and kind with an “indomitable will and an insatiable thirst for knowledge.”*
We’wha died in 1896, but the legacy of her extraordinary life remains one of community advocacy, cultural exchange, and artistry.