Founder & Executive Director, New York Transgender Advocacy Group
THIS IS NOT US, NOR HAS IT EVER BEEN US
How do we as a community get back to our origins, when we’ve been indoctrinated into a Western way of thinking, one that is not about community, but rugged individualism?
There’s an African proverb that says it take a whole village to raise a child, so how did we get here? People with an indifferent, ‘I got mines ,you get yours’ mentality? This is not how we get free, but stay under the foot of those who never wanted to see us free.
In a world where Lil’ Boosie and Dave Chapelle can say what they please, where are our cisgender champions standing in solidarity with us? This year alone, we have continued to see Black trans women murdered at high rates once again. I will not mourn for them, I will fight for them even in death! I will fight for all my living sisters who are yearning to be accepted, rather than tolerated.
TRANS IS BEAUTIFUL. START LOVING US, WE’RE WORTH IT.
There is a song that goes ‘By the river of Babylon, there we sat down, Yes, we wept when we remembered Zion, Yea we wept when we remember Zion’.
Today I do not weep. Tears cannot stop the violence waged against my sisters and me. Violence can only be halted by a community of concerned and active citizens, who stand with us to create safe spaces, to educate your families, churches and jobs. Me and my sisters are not here to speculate about and our deaths should not be seen as a cautionary tale.
We breath, laugh, cry and love like all humans do, we think about romance, we dream about being someone’s wife and raising a family. We should have the right to walk down the street, dine with our partners, dance in the sunlight without fear of being accosted.
I’ve been an activist for over 20 years. Starting NYTAG was about utilizing my passion, fighting for my community and for trans affirming policies. I found that in my activism I would have cisgender queer people dictating what to talk about and what to say. I was tired of not being able to speak my truth, and my community not being able to speak their truth.
Founding NYTAG came out of frustration of being spoken to in condescending ways, even from queer cis folks. Being tokenized by the community rather than us working together. People would quote statistics about black trans women to me, but not ask why things are the way they are! People were not ready to have the nuanced conversations needed.
NYTAG exists to address the root causes of the disparities that exist for the black trans community. Through our work we have enact policy changes that protect my community, we have changed laws. We are now working to check that people are following the law and not continuing to discriminate against the community. We work with undocumented trans and gender non-conforming folks, helping them lift themselves out of sex work, persecution and the risk of arrest. People shouldn’t have to risk violence, arrest and deportation just for being who they are.
NYTAG started because I want to control the narrative of my community. I want to shift how people speak about us. I wanted to give Black trans women a platform to change our narrative.