A student reflection on Transgender Day of Remembrance
Written by Romeo Jackson
Over the past year, I have been asked several times: “why do you do this [LGBTQ] work?” The first time I was asked I had not thought much about, yet I quickly answered, “I do this work for queer people of color especially trans women of color.” It has always made sense to me that I fight for the most targeted group I am aware of in America. As a intersectional thinker I know that the libration of Trans Women of Color would require the dismantling of a complex web of oppression. Put simple: I am not free until Trans Women of Color can walk down the street without facing violence, have accessible to health and job security, and live freely as themselves.
According to Injustice at Every Turn: A look at Black respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, the combination of anti-transgender bias along with persistent structural and interpersonal acts of racism was especially devastating for Black transgender people and other people of color. At this point in time, we can no longer say we don’t know. We can no longer deny that 14 Trans Women of Color have been killed in four months for daring to live unapologetically. 1 out of 8 trans people will be murdered. I have also come to be annoyed by the lack of resources for Trans Women of Color. Annoyed that Trans Women of Color are shunned from our movement, and irritated that despite the overwhelming need to center Trans Women of Color I am asked to champion marriage equity.
I challenge us to answer this question: do we only care for or about trans lives on TDOR? I ask that as we move forward we seek to center Trans Women of Color at our work. We must fill our offices, our boards, and our social circles with Trans Women of Color.
Putting on a drag show, observing TDOR, nor watching Orange is the New Black is enough. We must address cis-privilege. First by naming the fact that trans people are overwhelming killed by cisgender people. We must remove the notion that to center trans people of color is to leave “others” out of the conversation. We must confront the underlining and more often direct racism that underscores the queer movement. We (cisgender folks) must earn the trust of our trans family for we have given them no reason to believe in us.
As we mourn today for the killing of trans folks across the world, I call on every student, director, and change agent to operate in solidarity with Trans Women of Color.
Romeo Jackson is black queer femme femme-ist and is currently a senior studying Intersectionality and Social Justice at Northern Illinois University. Romeo serves as the Vice President of Campus Pride Advisory Board. Follow them on twitter: @romeojackson22