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Posted by: | Posted on: November 15, 2017

2017 Trans Awareness and Trans Day of Remembrance

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:

India Monroe
Murdered December 19, 2016
29 Years Old
Newport News, Virginia

Mesha Caldwell
Murdered January 4, 2017
41 Years Old
Canton, Mississippi

Sean Hake
Executed January 6, 2017
23 Years Old
Sharon, Pennsylvania

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow
Found Murdered on January 6, 2017
28 Years Old
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

JoJo Striker
Murdered on February 8, 2017
23 Years Old
Toledo, Ohio

Jacquarrius Holland
Murdered on February 19, 2017
18 Years Old
Monroe, Louisiana

Tiara Richmond (aka Keke Collier)
Murdered on February 21, 2017
24 Years Old
Chicago, Illinois

Chyna Doll Dupree (aka Chyna Gibson)
Murdered on February 25, 2017
31 Years Old
New Orleans, Louisiana

Ciara McElveen
Murdered on February 27, 2017
25 Years Old
New Orleans, Louisiana

Alphonza Watson
Murdered on March 22, 2017
38 Years Old
Baltimore, Maryland

Kenne McFadden
Murdered on March 8, 2017
27 Years Old
San Antonio, Texas

Chay Reed
Murdered on March 21, 2017
28 Years Old
Miami, Florida

Mx. Bostick
Murdered on April 4, 2017
49 Years Old
New York CIty, New York

Sherrell Faulkner
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
Athens, Georgia

Ebony Morgan
Murdered on July 2, 2017
28 Years Old
Lynchburg, Virginia

TeeTee Dangerfield
Murdered on July 31, 2017
32 Years Old
Atlanta, Georgia

Jay-Low Mcglory
Murdered on July 8,2017
29 Years Old
Alexandria, Louisiana

Gwynevere River Song
Murdered on August 8, 2017
26 Years old
Waxahachie, Texas

Kiwi Herring
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

Ally Steinfeld
Found Murdered on September 3, 2017
17 Years Old
Texas County, Missouri

Derricka Banner
Murdered on September 12, 2017
26 Years Old
Charlotte, North Carolina

Scout Schultz
Executed on September 16, 2017
21 Years Old
Atlanta, Georgia

Stephanie Montez
Murdered on October 21, 2017
47 Years Old
Corpus Christi, Texas

Candace Towns
Murdered on October 28, 2017
30 Years Old
Macon, Georgia

Rest in power.

For more information and photos of those taken from us visit: http://www.transnetworking.com/tdor2017_list/

Posted by: | Posted on: April 28, 2014

Transgender Spotlight: We’wha

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.”

We'wha, a Zuni Lhamana (Two-Spirit), circa 1886

We’wha, a Zuni Lhamana (Two-Spirit), circa 1886. From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We%27wha

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.

Posted by: | Posted on: March 28, 2014

Women’s History Month: 5 Trans Women Making History

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-whm

From http://supportcece.wordpress.com/

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-whm

From http://www.transjusticefundingproject.org

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

From http://bossierarts.blogspot.com

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

From http://www.glaad.org/

From http://www.glaad.org/

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

From http://www.advocate.com/

From http://www.advocate.com/

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.”*

Posted by: | Posted on: March 7, 2014

Sylvia Rivera’s Legacy of Resistance

by Aaron, MTPC Intern

Greetings from Aaron, the Public Policy Intern here at MTPC. In February, I highlighted the impact of 5 black trans women in the United States. The post has since received almost 6,000 “likes” on Facebook and has people talking about the contributions of black trans women in the trans movement. Given the popularity of this topic and the importance of sharing trans histories, I am excited to bring you more stories about a diverse group of trans activists, pioneers, and figures in the next few months. In honor of Women’s History Month, today’s post will focus on the legacy of resistance that follows the powerful life of Sylvia Rivera.

sylvia-rivera-marchBorn in New York City in 1951, Sylvia Rivera had a rocky start to life. Her mother’s early death and father’s frequent absence left Rivera bouncing from one place to another, enduring abuse for her effeminate presentation. In the early 1960’s, she began engaging in sex work alongside other trans women and drag queens. Leaving home for good, Rivera immersed herself in the transgender and drag queen community she discovered while hustling, finding solace in spaces like the Stonewall Inn. When police raided the Inn on June 18th, 1969, Rivera actively fought back. She was famously quoted as saying, “I’m not missing a minute of this — it’s the revolution!”

Rivera’s activism did not end with the Stonewall Riots. Recognizing the need for inclusion in a white, middle-class, gay-male-dominated movement, she became a voice for those without representation. As a Latina trans woman, Rivera fought for people of color and trans folks to be recognized and pressed for New York City’s gay rights bill to include protections for drag queens and trans people. While that campaign was unsuccessful, she went on to found the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) with Marsha P. Johnson in 1970. The organization provided shelter, clothes, and support for young homeless trans women and drag queens.

While cancer took her life in 2002, Rivera spent her lifetime working toward an inclusive LGBT movement and support for the most vulnerable folks in her community. She refused to accept that anyone should be left by the wayside. Her goal was intersectionality through resistance and representation, which remain important parts of today’s fight for equality.

Before her death, she said, “Before I die, I will see our community given the respect we deserve. I’ll be damned if I’m going to my grave without having the respect this community deserves. I want to go to wherever I go with that in my soul and peacefully say I’ve finally overcome.”

Watch Rivera’s speech at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally below or here. (Trigger warning: violence, sexual assault, transphobia)

Learn about the organization formed in her legacy, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project by visiting SRLP.org.