Black trans women and femmes live in the intersection of multiple marginalized identities, especially those of gender and race. However, violence perpetuated by transphobic hatred also leaves Black trans women even more vulnerable.
In less than a year, communities have lost women like Titi Gulley, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem'Mie” Fells, Monika Diamond, Nina Pop, and Layleen Polanco due to murder and violence, but their names rarely fill social media timelines or spark protests.
While it is important to continue saying their names, we also acknowledge the necessity of celebrating Black trans womxn today who are creating a safer world for all. Below is a sampling of words and stories from some of the current Black trans women and folx leading the way.
- Raquel Willis - Activist and writer
How the fight against police brutality helped ignite the LGBTQ-Rights Movement [Time]
“I had a brief moment before I spoke where I was looking out over the crowd, and I never imagined seeing that many people gathering specifically for Black transgender people.”
- Hope Giselle - Activist, author, and artist
Life through the lens of the Black trans woman [Essence]
“As a Black trans woman, I find myself playing third fiddle to a multitude of issues seen as more important than my own.”
- Laverne Cox - Emmy-nominated actress, documentary film producer, and prominent equal rights advocate
Disclosure: behind Laverne Cox’s Netflix documentary on trans representation [The Guardian]
“My own life is such a profound example of what representation can do.”
- Janet Mock - Writer, director, and activist
Janet Mock on the parallels between the George Floyd protests and the 1969 Stonewall riots [Entertainment Tonight]
“We helped ignite this movement and we deserve space in this movement and that this movement is also ours.”
- Indya Moore - Actor, model, and advocate
‘Pose’ star Indya Moore reflects on activism and the road ahead [Variety]
“Emergencies like [COVID-19] lift a veil and reveal how inhumane this system has always been. No one of us can fix it.”
- Angelica Ross - Entrepreneur, actor, and advocate
Angelica Ross opens up about that explosive episode of 'Pose' [Out Magazine]
“This is what it’s like for a strong Black trans woman that has to defend themselves because no one else will. You learn to stand up for yourself.”
- Dominique Jackson - Actor, author, and model
Dominique Jackson is ready for her next steps as an icon and advocate [Marie Claire]
“I went through those traumas, so if I lie about it, there may be some person that needed that truth and didn't get it. And that could’ve been a life I could have saved.”
- Peppermint - Actor, drag queen, and activist
How Black trans artists are fighting to achieve racial justice & amplify queer voices [Grammy]
“Black Lives Matter only seems to focus on the men who were so egregiously taken from us. There isn’t a strong enough cry about Sandra Bland or Breonna Taylor."
- Jayy Dodd - Artist, writer, and curator
Seven queer Black Portlanders speak out on what Pride means to them this year [Willamette Week]
“Can Pride be a pro-Black, pro-trans, pro-sex work, anti-fascist gathering and celebration? I don't know, but again we are here, commemorating the labor of Black Queer Folk, despite the continued systemic theft and erasure of our lives.”
- Jari Jones - Actor, model, and activist
Gen Z’s queer icons talk about Pride [Refinery29]
“Know that… being something other than what society deems as ‘regular’ is just as good, maybe even better.”
- Akwaeke Emezi - Author and video artist
‘This is a possibility’: Akwaeke Emezi writes a trans story where nobody gets hurt [New York Times]
“I want to cast a spell where a Black trans girl is never hurt. Her parents are completely supportive. Her community is completely supportive. She’s not in danger. She gets to have adventures with her best friend. And I hope that that’s a useful spell for young people.”
Who are the Black trans womxn leaders you look up to? Spread the word about those trailblazers and share with us on social media by tagging @ywcaworks on Twitter and Facebook and @ywca_sks on Instagram.
Annalee Schafranek is the Marketing & Editorial Director at YWCA. She contributes agency news, press releases, and media coverage to the website. Annalee’s educational and professional experience has always focused on the place where gender equity and media meet.
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