I’ve spent the past semester showing my frustration at the marginalization of Trans* People of Color and trying to motivate other TPOC to build communities in whatever way they can, so I’ve decided that for my last blog entry I’m going to show examples of TPOC organizations that have begun to build community in their regions.
The first I would like to talk about is Angels of Change in Los Angeles, a program that was begun in 2008 as part of the city’s Division of Adolescent Medicine’s efforts to provide services to Trans* youth. The program is a fundraiser for these services centered around a calendar shoot. The organization looks for models who are willing to participate throughout the year at speaking engagement in various places to bring awareness to the Trans* population of Los Angeles and the struggles it faces.
Now, initially this sounds like a very small thing to have, a calendar and some speeches, and it might seem at first to be even insignificant, but this kind of program is exactly what TPOC need. Through this program, Trans* people are given the ability to talk for themselves, something I cannot stress enough as being crucial to our community, the youth who are receiving services are able to inform others of these services and develop into positive role models for those in their community, and of course, the most obvious aspect, framing Trans* people as beautiful. These youth, these marginalized youth who face discrimination and hatred daily are able to connect with one another, with members of the community, and are able to see their potential, and I can’t wait to see what develops from this program.
And related to this program through several administrators and organizers, including Bamby Salcedo, is xQsi Magazine, an online magazine that covers Queer news from throughout Latin America and the US. It provides sections on art and entertainment, op-eds, and even manages to throw events in Los Angeles. This is a huge step up from Lou Sullivan’s mailing list for Transmen in the eighties, the only thing I can think of that compares to this, and has the incredible benefit of drawing from the Latin@ diaspora. It unites us across borders, just as our families do, and it provides a Latin@ perspective on Queerness, something that has been dominated by academics and theorists (very good theorists, I admit, but still at a distance from the majority of Latin@s). Their title, “The New Voice of Our Community” rings true. Being informed on the issues, and being show how they impact you and your loved ones is one of the most important services this newspaper provides. This voice, this ability to communicate amongst ourselves and then with other communities is going to play an integral role in the development of a Trans* Latin@ consciousness.
Also on the West coast is the Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women and Transgender Community, out of the San Francisco Bay area. This volunteer run organization established in 1999 provides community building events and conferences, as well as a network for Queer and Trans* Asians and Pacific Islanders to develop their community and find the resources they need for their struggles. It has contacts all throughout California, and places a huge focus on the intersectionality of Queer and Asian identities. The sheer scope of what this grassroots organization has accomplished gives me hope and inspires me.
Finally, there is brklyn boihood, a collective in New York that works for “masculine of center bois, lesbians, queers, trans-identified, studs, doms, butches and AGs of color” by building community through “boi nights” during which members get together to simply hang out, and occasionally to dialogue, parties that exhibit DJs, artists, and performers “dedicated to championing queer visibility and spreading our most important virtue: love”, and through speaking engagements at different institutions ranging from universities to bookstores and Queer non-profits. They also provide a calendar, and place a huge emphasis on the needs of the community and social justice. Bklyn boihood is located in Bed-Stuy, one of the poorest parts of New York, and has begun to address the class and racial differences so often ignored in the LGBT movement.
I hope that the dedication and success of these organizations inspire people as much as they have me. I hope that these examples of Trans* people of color working together are used to build a national community, to unite us in our love and to give us a home where we are understood, where our insectionality is taken for granted, and where we are, at last, safe and accepted. Maybe this is me being way too idealistic, but sometimes I think that we should stop and look at the brighter side.