Keeping the Trans in Black History Month

Posted by: | Posted on: February 20, 2013

It’s a busy month here at MTPC. We are thrilled that we helped secure 59 cosponsors for the Equal Access Bill filing, and that’s just the beginning of our work with the bill. Also, Executive Director Gunner Scott announced that he’s leaving MTPC at the end of February, so we’re preparing for a smooth transition for incoming MTPC Interim Director Jesse Begenyi.

It’s important to pause now to acknowledge the importance of Black History Month. At MTPC, we try to focus on intersectional issues in the trans community year-round. We’re sadly not in a post-racial society, so we still need to take advantage of occasions like Black History Month to shed needed light on problems that affect black trans people disproportionately. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey confirmed that “the combination of anti-transgender with structural and individual racism meant that transgender people of color experience particularly devastating levels of discrimination.” More details are available in “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, A Look at Black Respondents,” which you can download as a PDF here.

We also need to honor the black activists who have been an important part of the trans movement from the beginning (just as trans people were active in the civil rights movement). For instance, Miss Major and Marsha P. Johnson were both prominent figures in the Stonewall Uprising. Although Stonewall* is often cited as the beginning of the (often white-washed and cis-washed) gay rights movement, trans women of color were right there leading the way.

Last year, Monica Roberts did this excellent piece for Ebony offering A Look at African-American Trans Trailblazers. Rather than quoting her excellent work at length, I’m just going to send you over there to read it. (If you don’t know who Lucy Hicks Anderson was, you’ll be glad you learned.)


* Speaking of Stonewall, we hope that in future speeches President Obama will open up his language surrounding LGBT rights to explicitly say “transgender” and “bisexual” and not just continue to say “gay and lesbian.”

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