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LGBT organizations and the white LGBT community only center, honor, and see Black and Brown Trans people when we are dead.

by Kay Martinez  It's Transgender Awareness Week and I’ve been feeling erased by the Trans community and LGBT organizations as whiteness continues to be centered. This week, individuals and organizations will participate in Trans Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces. Yet how do these LGBT organizations internally treat their Trans employees, particularly their few Trans staff of color? Are Trans Black or Brown people in leadership positions? Are we tokenized?  I can’t help but side-eye these organizations’ performative allyship this week knowing how many climate reports I’ve read about the racism and transphobia within these organizations and my own personal experiences with them. I’m currently in Boston where folks expect me to celebrate the recent win on Ballot Question 3 during the midterm elections. Massachusetts voters faced the first-ever statewide popular vote on protections for transgender people from discrimination. The referendum would have repealed our current state law that protects trans people from discrimination in public places, including restaurants, stores, and doctors’ offices. A “yes” vote on Question 3 kept the current law as it is. I’ve found myself asking, how did we get this win? I can’t fully celebrate because the visual marketing campaign led by Freedom for all Massachusetts did not prominently feature any Black or Brown Trans people in their videos and it has left me feeling erased, invisible, and degraded by my hometown. As election day neared, the face of the campaign I saw everywhere was Ian, a white transgender teen. In the commercials, I saw close-ups of Ian and his family having dinner in their beautiful home, playing on their yard and enjoying their Rockwellian upper middle-class life. I looked at all eight videos on Freedom for all Massachusetts’ website and I failed to see any Trans Black or Brown people prominently featured. In the video entitled, “This November, Massachusetts Will Vote YES for Dignity & Respect,” news footage of one Black Trans Woman, Chastity Bowick, speaking is used for a few seconds which made me feel like they Google searched for some diversity to tack on rather than affording a Trans person of color a featured speaking role like the other white trans folks and allies they included. How ironic that a campaign fighting to protect Trans people from discrimination in Massachusetts excluded Black and Brown Trans people from full participation in the visual campaigning. Seems discriminatory to me. But why? Who were these advertisements for? [caption id="attachment_50231" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Kay Martinez by Rai McKinley[/caption] Massachusetts is 81% white.These ads were designed for white people to see the plight of Transgender people reflected in the upper-middle class struggles of Ian and his family so they would see themselves—and how could anyone vote to keep another white family down? Is an appeal to whiteness going to lead to Trans liberation for all of us? What Freedom for all Massachusetts’ ad campaigns showed me was that the voters of Massachusetts could never see me or my Trans Black and Brown siblings and deem us as worthy of humanity. Yes, the legal protections for Trans folks in MA are intact, so perhaps we won, but would the results have been the same with a diverse and inclusive ad campaign including people who looked like me?  Had I seen myself in these ads, I would have felt like I had a Trans community in Massachusetts that was truly fighting for my freedom. I feel like this organization did what white LGBT people and white cis-led LGBT organizations are currently doing and have always done to Black and Brown people, which is further pushing us and shushing us out of sight and out of mind to the margins because they think they know what’s best for us. Transgender Awareness Week is followed by Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on Nov. 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. At TDOR ceremonies I’ve organized and participated in, Black and Brown death take center stage and are focused on because of the sheer volume of atrocities my communities disproportionately face, particularly Black Trans Women. I’ve also been to ceremonies where my dead siblings’ names were mispronounced by well-intentioned allies amid chants of "Black trans lives matter". LGBT organizations and the white LGBT community only center, honor, and see Black and Brown Trans people when we are dead.   Ever since the news of this administration’s plans to write Transgender people out of existence, my whole body has been tight. I’ve been breathing shallow breaths and experiencing whiplash every time I looked at my newsfeed. Every bit of legislative progress we’ve made on Trans rights is being knocked back and it takes a piece of my resolve with it. How can we chant, “won’t be erased” in the streets together as a community, when white Trans people and LGBT organizations erase us from within? That’s not freedom for all.  
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Reina Gossett is a visionary and her work deserves prestige and compensation. 

As a writer and an organizer, I get a warm flush a few times a month when I get a shout out on social media from my many peers and colleagues in queer feminist POC networks. The last one that gave me real pause was the incomparable make-up artist Umber Ghauri of Brown Beauty Standards who let the world know that I did one of my usual backstage hook-ups for a great campaign celebrating trans women’s beauty for the End Violence Against Women campaign. Reina Gossett is a historical researcher, writer, filmmaker and activist who has been receiving the antithesis of the aforementioned warm treatment that comes from community solidarity and compassionate collaboration. She’s been done real dirty in the furore which has surrounded the Netflix documentary film “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”. If you are unfamiliar with what I am talking about, Gossett accused David France, the director, of capitalizing on her years of  research and ideas for the film I spoke with David France, just to get a measure of the man. I was not interested in the pernickety back and forth of accusations, allegations, defensiveness and labored partial truth seeking. The expansion of digital media has enlarged the court of public opinion exponentially to an extent that would boggle the minds of television watchers. In this era where many are concerned about the not-that-new phenomenon of 'fake news', the thoroughness of journalistic endeavor hasn't been diluted across the board. It seems that David France believes that because he had "trans and gender non-conforming people from the very top of our production to the bottom of our production” that it could exempt him from criticism of his cisgender white gaze and perhaps even invalidate Reina’s claims that her labor was exploited.
Related: MARSHA P. JOHNSON’S LIFE ISN’T WHITE PEOPLE’S STORY TO TELL

When rich white women get to board the train from the suburbs donning their treasured pink pussy hats, and they get to say this march is for me, who are they ignoring in the process?

By Ally Sabatina Jan. 20 marked one year since Donald Trump was sworn into office as president and with it came the second-annual Women’s March in major cities all over the countryPhiladelphia being no exception. Though the city of Brotherly Love tried to switch gears into a slightly more inclusive version of sisterly love, organization fell remarkably short by highlighting cis-terly love. There were a number of glaring issues, especially the stunning lack of trans voices in the organizational process of the Women’s March and the movement at-large — and Philadelphia was not spared or unique in its own lack of intersectionality. Chief among Philadelphia Women’s march organizers’ being totally and completely out of touch was their invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department for “safety measures.” Fascism operates under nationalist notions of safety and bullshit centrists, like the lobby that privacy and safety are moot points if you have nothing to hide, but in a country of white, police and military aggression, none have place in progressive movements. Police presence at a progressive march that may have ordinarily inspired people on the margins to show up for issues that resonate with them, were effectively pushed further to the margins for fear of harassment, stop and frisk, and profiling. https://twitter.com/ChingonaCommie/status/955239264475783168 https://twitter.com/sheabutterfemme/status/954817605294059520 https://twitter.com/CountyAntifa/status/954815336225918977 But the march and its organizers showed themselves to once again to care little, if at all, about Black and brown folks, especially queer and trans women of color. In fact, their invitation of the Philadelphia Police Department was a calculated idea facilitated by the backbone of liberal ideology. With liberals so concerned with the status quo being maintained—and only challenged by pre-approved “well meaning liberals”—police are friends of liberalism. When the liberal dialogue is focused on changing the ways we, the people interact with police—effectively placing blame and burdens of civility only on the complainant and not on the root causes that allow police to militarize, surveille and terrorize neighborhoods—cops get the privilege of being regarded as the good, true and right in any position because their priorities rest in preserving law and order as defined by the status quo. Trans, indigenous, black, queer and disabled people of color are expected to keep their mouths shut, their concerns mum and to never expect a seat at the table. The Women’s March as a concept has never appealed to me. I’m not one to engage in reactionary politics and as a sufferer of general anxiety and chronic pain known for my proclivity for staying home, the march was never for me. But when we get into the meat of the thing to talk about who the march is for, messaging falls short. Aside from the language of a women’s march being exclusionary to people on the margins who do not identify as women but are for women, the question of who the march is even for gets raised. When there are gatekeepers of femininity in every corner and at every checkpoint, who gets to ascribe to principles of a supposed women’s march? When rich white women get to board the train from the suburbs donning their treasured pink pussy hats, and they get to say this march is for me, who are they ignoring in the process?
Related: DON’T FORGET ABOUT BLACK WOMEN DURING YOUR WOMEN’S MARCH ON WASHINGTON

Rose McGowan seeks to bask in the glow of a compassion only reserved for white women whilst the footprints of her Doc Martens are pressed into our backs.

I employ what one could call a ‘survivor’s leniency’. As a complex PTSD sufferer because of multiple sexual assaults, and the recipient of intense therapeutic support which led me away from drug-induced psychosis and back, into a now thriving recovery, I know well the long-term impact of sexual violence on those of us who have been preyed upon by abusive people. Thus, I have not shouted my dislike from any rooftops what bugs me about Rose McGowan. It started when I heard her on Rupaul and Michelle Visage’s podcast “What’s the Tee?”. They’re consummate professionals who are professionally flattering, well-researched and usually deliver content seamlessly. Yet, they couldn’t hide how clunkily awkward it was when Rose McGowan was their guest. One of the lowest moments in this car crash of a podcast was her misguidedly using the terms trans women and drag queens interchangeably. Her statements about trans women and her racist, TERF and queerphobic ways aren't new, but the cherry on top was a ridiculous anecdote about their lack of interest in her menstrual cycle. “Don’t you think it’s funny that you guys never ask me about my period?” Maybe it’s too much to expect cisgender people to wonder how insidious gender dysphoria might be? That there may be trans girls who mentally spiral downwards in thoughts about not having wombs and not having children? That to this trans girl it would be really disrespectful and insensitive to brazenly ask for details of someone’s menstrual cycle out of the blue? That the idea of asking someone about their genitalia and how they work and how they feel about them is conversational territory that I am not entitled to? #mindblown
Related: ROSE MCGOWAN’S WHITE FEMINISM IS ROOTED IN A LONG HISTORY OF BECKERY

Being trans is not at all determined by our bodies. Our genders are not determined by our bodies or body parts.

Even as knowledge on trans identities and trans folks becomes more widespread and accessible, a perilous hyperfixation on trans people’s bodies remains. We are vilified and harassed everyday in our homes, our schools, or in our places of work for how we might look or present. Trans folks are consistently shamed, marginalized, and oppressed under cisheteropatriarchy and through its actors for failing to adhere to colonized, cisgender binaries and gender roles and expectations, especially with regards to our presentation and our bodies. Trans people are misunderstood and pathologized as having some “deviance” of the body. Even among folks who claim to be trans allies, trans people remain fetishized and objectified as body-objects and nothing more. Trans women and femmes especially are graded and received only through how conforming our bodies are to respectable, colonial, and cis standards of beauty. We are told even by those who claim to be our friends how they would “never have been able guess/tell”. We are told that our presentations “look so good for a trans girl” or that we are “surprisingly” skillful at navigating and crafting our presentation. As well, armful, overgeneralized assumptions continue regarding trans folks and our bodies, in particular our genitalia or other physical characteristics. And this contributes to the transmisogynistic demonization of trans women and femmes in particular regarding social access, like to public bathrooms. This also maintains a predatory “chaser” culture in which interested potential partners fetishize trans folks on the mere assumption of what body parts we may have. But in truth, we are more than our bodies. Our genders are more than bodies. In fact, being trans is not at all determined by our bodies. Our genders are not determined by our bodies or body parts. And our trans identity does not determine what body parts we may have. This pathologized, colonial misunderstanding of gender is simply not true. Regardless of where our genitals or other physical/bodily characteristics fall on the spectrum of human variation, we are peoples of many different genders.
Related: DON’T BE A TERF: TRANSMISOGYNY 101

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