When we launched Create Space in September 2021 one of our fundamental principles was that we would offer sustained support to LGBTQ+ communities year-round, beyond Pride month. We also set out to support activism that was already happening, to be led by those at the forefront of the movement.
That’s why as Create Space moves into its second year, we are honored to welcome two new activists whose work focuses on trans rights and safety. We are also very excited that they happen to be headquartered close to our home in Brooklyn, New York. In line with Create Space’s approach, their activism is intersectional; focusing on uplifting Black trans communities who face disproportionate marginalization. Black transgender people have an unemployment rate four times that of the general population and 41% have experienced homelessness(1).Our new activists want to dismantle oppressive structures through their work to improve Black trans livelihoods and reduce victimization, and we look forward to working closely with them over the coming years.
Kiara St. James (she/her)
Kiara is the founder and co-executive director of programs for the New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG), and has been at the forefront of the trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary (TGNCNB) advocacy movement for over 20 years. Her extensive work has been instrumental in creating systemic policy changes that benefit the LGTBQ+ community of New York, and more specifically Black, Brown and Latinx trans communities. lack, Brown and Latinx trans communities.
Kiara’s advocacy has undeniably made the city a safer place for the TGNCNB community. She was a key campaigner who worked to highlight and end discriminatory policies held by New York City shelters that denied trans women’s access to support. In 2019, she spearheaded work with legislators to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act in New York State, instilling vital legal protections for transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.
“I started NYTAG to control the narrative of my community, to shift how people speak about us. I wanted to give Black trans women a platform to change our narrative.”
More recently she was instrumental in abolishing the state penal law also known as the “walking while trans law”, allowing police to arbitrarily arrest New Yorkers for simply standing on the street, and disproportionately targeted trans women of color. Kiara built a coalition of advocacy groups, lawmakers and lawyers to help repeal the law, which succeeded in 2021. During the pandemic, she helped establish the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund, that seeks to alleviate the economic crises faced by the TGNCNB community caused by ongoing criminalization, health disparities and victimization.
Kiara is a guiding light in the New York LGBTQ+ movement, and we can’t wait to support her work fighting for a fairer future.
Devin Michael Lowe (he/they)
Devin is the founder and executive director of Black Trans Travel Fund (BTTF). With a background in community organizing that is invested in the liberation of Black trans people, Devin founded the Black Trans Travel Fund in 2019 to help fund Black trans women to access safe modes of transportation.
Devin founded BTTF in response to the unacceptable national epidemic of transmisogynistic violence faced by trans women of color. It is a collective rooted in self-advocacy and mutual aid for Black trans women globally. Initially founded in New York City and now expanded beyond, BTTF supports programs both nationally and internationally, helping Black trans-led programs and collectives access safe travel and provide material support to Black trans women and their respective communities. This year BTTF has sponsored events in both Jamaica, Kenya and Uganda, helping Black trans communities celebrate together in safety. Since being founded, BTTF has redistributed over $350,000 to Black trans women in need.
“We can’t talk about ending transphobia if we don’t talk about the impacts of colonialism on gender diverse communities across the world.”
Alongside his work for BTTF, Devin works as community organizer for Black Trans Media, a grassroots organization that exists to reframe the value of Black trans people by addressing the intersections of racism and transphobia through arts, media, political education and community power.
Devin’s work is truly intersectional and global, values that underpin Create Space, and we’re thrilled to be able to collaborate with them moving forward.
Check out the Create Space hub and follow @brooklynbrewery on Instagram for more from Kiara and Devin!