What we now recognize as Pride Month started as a riot led by majority Black and Latinx trans and queer individuals. We owe so much of our queer freedom to the radical acts of heroes like Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, and Stormé DeLarverie, a biracial butch lesbian, and it is because of them that we usually spend the month of June visibly celebrating. Things are decidedly solemn this year, though; amidst a pandemic and the fight for racial justice, the dangers faced by Black trans and gender nonconforming Americans demand our immediate and undivided attention.
Just a few days ago on June 1st, Ilyanna Dior was brutally beaten by a large group of cisgender adults in Minneapolis; she is fortunately now recovering at home, but the incident amplifies the risks her community undergoes daily.
Tony McDade did not get a second chance at life. A 38-year-old Black trans man, he was fatally shot by police in Florida on May 27th. He was at least the twelfth Black trans or non-binary person killed in the US in 2020, which is staggeringly disturbing.
Only a few weeks prior on May 3rd, 28-year-old Nina Pop, a Black trans woman, was murdered in her home in Missouri.
While her death and Ilyanna’s assault were not at the hands of the police, they underscore that violence against Black trans and gender nonconforming people is in an epidemic in this country.
We need to protect them.
Actionable Steps Towards Justice for Tony McDade, Nina Pop and Ilyanna Dior
To demand justice for Tony, text “Tony McDade” to 484848 to demand that the police release the body camera footage from the night he was killed. You can also sign petitions to hold the Tallahassee Police Department accountable here and here. His family was seeking donations to cover funeral costs, but they have stopped accepting funds now that the financial target has been met.
The Okra Project has launched mental health funds in honor of Tony and Nina that will provide free therapy sessions for Black transgender individuals, so consider donating to both.
Ilyanna is currently accepting donations to her CashApp. Her handle is $IyannaDIO
Additionally, demand better from our elected officials, and make sure to vote for candidates who will commit to protecting Black trans and gender nonconforming lives.
You can also show solidarity by protesting in the streets. If you’re able to do this, check out some of our tips for staying safe and smart while demonstrating.
Where To Donate and/or Get Involved To Protect Black Trans and Gender Nonconforming Individuals
There are plenty of organizations that could use your funding right now, but let’s start local:
Casa Ruby is run by trans women of color, and they offer a wide variety of services to LGBTQ individuals including preventative health, mental health support for survivors of violence, housing and social services and more.
DCATS is a trans-led nonprofit organization that serves to advance the lives of DC-area transmasculine individuals by providing resources that help overcome the social, economic, and health-related barriers to living authentically.
The DC Center for the LGBT Community serves to educate, empower, celebrate and connect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities; while it’s closed due to Covid-19, it has shifted its programming online, including an LGBTQ People of Color Support Group via Zoom this Saturday.
SMYAL advocates for LGBTQ youth in the DC Metropolitan area by creating leadership development opportunities, after-school programs, transitional housing and counseling services.
On a broader geographic scale:
Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund is working with Black Trans Travel Fund, For the Gworls and The Okra Project to raise funds to support Black trans protesters with resources, medical care and bail.
LGBTQ Freedom Fund posts bail for jailed and detained LGBTQ people, and raises awareness about the critical nature of this work; LGBTQ people are 3x more likely to be incarcerated, and they are at much higher risk for abuse in prison.
The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition is the only national organization led by Black trans people that works to end discrimination and inequities faced in health, employment, housing and education to improve the lived experience of Black transgender people
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence by offering legal services, and by engaging in political education and organizing with incarcerated individuals.
The Okra Project (which we mentioned earlier is setting up mental health funds to honor Tony McDade and Nina Pop) pays Black trans chefs to visit the homes of Black trans people and cook them healthy, culturally-specific home-cooked meals at no cost. In instances where individuals are experiencing homelessness or can’t accommodate a chef’s visit in-home, the organization partners with institutions like Osborne Association and other community spaces to deliver foods.
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute provides direct relief to Black trans people; currently the focus is on Covid-19 relief, and all proceeds will be given to affected Black trans individuals.
Rest for Resistance serves LGBTQIA+ individuals, namely trans & queer people of color, by creating safe healing space; it promotes meditation as an act of resistance, and features art, essays, and a directory of intersectional mental-health resources.
Trans Lifeline is the only peer-support hotline where all operators are trans. The life-saving service is available in the United States and Canada, and operates in both English and Spanish. The organization also provides microgrants to trans and nonbinary individuals to cover the costs of updating and correcting names and/or gender markers on identifying legal documents.
The Trans Justice Funding Project is a community-led funding initiative that supports grassroots, trans justice groups run by and for trans people. Every penny they receive goes to grantees.
For the Gworls Party raises money to assist with Black trans folks’ rent payments and affirmative surgeries.
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network is a healing justice organization committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color through their QTPoC Mental Health Practitioner Directory, an interactive digital resource to connect QTPoC to QTPoC practitioners, and the Mental Health Fund, which provides supplemental financial assistance for QTPoC who cannot afford psychotherapy.
LGBT Books To Prisoners sends books and other educational materials, free of charge, to incarcerated LGBTQ people across the United States.
“Pride Month this year is different. It is now up to white people, specifically white queer people who watch Black folks sitting at the intersections die at the hands of layered oppression, to stand up. It is on those who love drinking at the Stonewall Inn and every gay bar across the nation to put their bodies on the line in solidarity, and ‘spend their privilege’ in order to protect others with shared forms of marginalization.” George M. Johnson in Pride Is and Always Was About Rebellion, This Year More Than Ever.
Spend your privilege. Protect this community.
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