Last year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we wrote about the threats that transgender and gender non-binary people of color were under, both from Trump administration policies and from violence in their daily lives. A series of murders of black trans women in particular has galvanized a national conversation about the specific barriers they face, and what support communities need to provide to keep these women safe.
Thanks and Honor to Indya Moore for being the first person of trans/non-binary experience to openly speak at Essence Fest pic.twitter.com/UBaXDGrkGG— Thee Joseph Reaves (@heymissjoseph) July 9, 2019
This month, Indya Moore was the first transgender person to keynote Essence Festival, the biggest annual event celebrating Black music and culture in the country. In their three talks at the festival, Moore outlined how little support black trans women receive while they face some of the greatest oppression. Moore traced their own position as the first-ever trans keynote speaker at Essence Festival as an example of that lack of support by the community: “It’s hard for me to find honorableness in being the first because honestly, it should have already been happening.”
Building Trans-Inclusive Community
So how can we create a community that supports trans people, and in particular black trans women, who are furthest from our society’s benefits?
GLAAD has a list of tips for how to be an ally to trans folks, including some actions you can start taking today:
- Challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes in public spaces, make it clear that transphobic comments aren’t acceptable.
- Support all-gender public restrooms. Pressure public institutions like parks, libraries, and schools to have unisex or all-gender bathrooms. “Make it clear that transgender and gender non-conforming people are welcome to use whichever restroom they feel comfortable using.”
- Make your place of work more trans-inclusive. Take the lead by asking people to introduce themselves using their preferred pronouns, and by adding an all-gender sign to the bathrooms in meeting spaces if they aren’t already.
Finally, because black trans women exist at the intersection of both trans violence and anti-blackness, supporting anti-discrimination protections for transgender people, as well as affirmative action, can help give these women the financial stability to improve their own personal safety.
Building an inclusive community also means spreading that message to friends and family. Share resources like this post for people in your social circle to educate themselves on the experiences of trans women, and the barriers our society has forced on them.
Eric Bronson is the Digital Advocacy and Engagement Manager at YWCA. He manages the Firesteel blog in addition to its social media streams and action initiatives. A graduate of Oberlin College, Eric focuses on the intersection of race and gender within the American political economy.
We tell the stories of those with lived experiences of racism and sexism and invite supporters to take concrete actions to correct the root causes of disparity in our communities.