There are thousands of Black trans women who, if given the right resources, could have really educated us about the plight, successes and experiences of trans women of color. By Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins Last Wednesday Netflix released the documentary directed by David France, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson. While the initial release was met with positive reception, the film’s validity was questioned upon learning that Reina Gossett, a trans woman of color and filmmaker, stated that the concept for the film was stolen from her. As a result many queer/trans people of color have been left wondering: Why are white, queer men so interested in telling the stories of trans Black people?
https://www.instagram.com/p/BZ7byULA9KA/ In a statement put out by France, he states that he felt for years that because of his connection to both Marsha and Sylvia, that he should be the one to tell the story around Marsha’s death. But the stories of the lives of queer and trans people of color are often columbused and the stories are often told from a lens that rarely captures the full picture of what it means to be marginalized. It is not uncommon for QTPOC to have their stories stolen from them. It is not uncommon for white cisgender individuals to offer up their platform to supposedly assist QTPOC with telling their stories only for pivotal pieces of said story to be left out. This is not the first time that a white director profited off of Marsha P. Johnson’s story. We saw this happen in 2015, when the film Stonewall was released by Roland Emmerich. Not only did the film leave out important moments related to the original story, it centered a cisgender white man and erased the actions of both Johnson and Rivera, as well as other QTPOC. In the beginning 2017, the same thing happened when writer and producer Dustin Lance Black released his work entitled, When We Rise, a television docudrama about LGBTQ rights.