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America: It’s Time for Us to Take a Stand Against Transgender Violence


WYV_DTT_Group03As Americans join together to celebrate Labor Day, marking the unofficial end of summer, Wear Your Voice thought it was only appropriate to release the latest series of photos from our body positive summer campaign #DropTheTowel. If you’re unfamiliar with the campaign, #DropTheTowel is a call to action, a movement for all shapes, sizes, colors, disabilities and genders to reclaim their place at the beach and proclaim they are done hiding their already beautiful summer body (because we believe every body is a bikini body.)

In every photo series, we highlight a particular issue that matters most to us. In a recent #DropTheTowel shoot, we focused on the pervasive act of food shaming. In another, we challenged white feminists to bring diversity to gender equality campaigns. With the release of our latest photo series, our intent is to highlight the increasingly alarming rate of trans violence in the United States.

Some state the number at 18. Others say it’s 20. Some publications  say 17. The reality is, we don’t truly know how many trans women have been killed this year (due to police and media misreporting gender identity). The number of transgender violence is probably higher than any of these numbers.  This is an epidemic. And it won’t change until we collectively stand behind those who are fighting for trans liberation.

In part, this particular #DropTheTowel shoot was sparked by a conversation I had in June with trans and immigration rights activist Jennicet Gutiérrez. Earlier this summer,  Gutiérrez made headlines around the world after interrupting President Obama while he delivered a speech at the White House during Pride Month, as Gutiérrez sought to bring attention to LGBTQ and trans immigration issues in U.S detention centers.  With marriage equality now legal in the U.S, Gutiérrez said it’s time we turn our attention to transgender issues.

While I’m glad for marriage equality and the progress of this nation, I hope that the same people and organizations that rallied for legalization [of marriage equality] reach out to transgender struggles. We’re [the LGBTQ community] disconnected with transgender issues. We’re a part of the community too.

The purpose of Labor Day is to celebrate those who organized for equitable and just conditions in the workplace. It is with that same spirit with our latest photo series, that we do our part to take a stand for the equitable and just conditions of transgender people within the U.S and around the globe.

For the shoot, we asked models to come in bathing suit attire they were most comfortable in. Our only request-wear white heels. Breaking the unwritten rule that white is an unacceptable color for foot attire after Labor Day, we aim to break the current system that is not protective of all people. It’s up to all of us do to our part. We are each other’s keeper, and none of us are free until we are all free.

Photo Credit for all images: David Meza of Zap Inc; edits by Elly Garcia ( ellyzen.com

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Originally from the Bay, I was uprooted from my eclectic surroundings and forced to spend my formative years in conservative San Joaquin County (Stockton) after Loma Prieta. Earthquake central couldn't deter me, and in 2010, I relocated to San Francisco. After a year of not being rich or knowing how to code, I moved to Oakland, where my momma and my momma's momma were born. Oakland has changed A LOT from when I was growing up, and I love getting reacquainted with my roots. Like our city's logo, Oakland grounds me, it's where I've rediscovered myself and unleashed my creativity. If I were a tattoo, I'd be eyes on my eyelids so I can snooze the day without anyone noticing (which I do often.) If I were a street in Oakland, I'd be Skyline Blvd, because, the view. Favorite spot in Oakland? I love it all! But I'd have to say Redwood Regional Park...or Raj Indian in Piedmont.

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