5 Speeches That Speak To The Reality Of Being Black And Trans In America
The killing of trans women of color continues to be an epidemic.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reported that at least 16 transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals have lost their lives by either a firearm or other forms of brutality in 2020. Unfortunately, the organization believes that number might not be completely accurate because crimes that fit this description often go unrecognized.
Riah Milton, a Black trans woman, is believed to be the 14th transgender individual killed in the United States this year. The 25-year-old was killed in Liberty Township, Ohio, on June 9, as Blavity previously reported. A 14-year-old girl and two men lured Milton to an area with the intent to steal her car, eventually fatally shooting her.
That same week, in Philadelphia, the remains of Black transgender woman Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells were discovered near the Schuylkill River, WPVI reported. An investigation is underway to determine who is responsible for killing the 27-year-old.
As the nation continues to rally for Black lives, the following five speeches help to illustrate the reality of what it's like to be both Black and trans in a nation that continually needs reminding that all Black lives matter.
Dr. D-L Stewart Wonders Aloud How The World Would Have Differed If Black Trans Lives Mattered
Among other accolades, Dr. Stewart serves as an education professor and a faculty member at the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at Colorado State University. At the annual TEDxCSU conference on March 9, 2019, Dr. Stewart discussed the intersectionality of being both trans and Black.
He begins their monologue: "My body defies the restrictions of a society consumed by boxes and binary and 'are you a boy or a girl?'"
"My body is a sovereign country," he continues. "And my first site of resistance."
Dr. Stewart also has those same remarks tattooed on their arm.
Toward the end of the speech, Dr. Stewart reflects on their future as a Black man.
"When and how soon when I am no longer misgendered woman, will the cops be called to come and contain and erase my presence?" he questions. "How soon before the purse clutching? The sidewalk crossing? What does it mean to become a brute? To turn my body into another kind of threat."
Model Tschan Andrews Is Still Fighting For 'Basic Respect'
It's been three years since transgender model Tschan Andrews delivered a passionate message on her experiences being a Black trans woman. Three years after that January 2017 Tedx Talk, her words continue to hold power.
"Why do I have to fight for basic respect?" she wonders aloud. "Why can’t I have my gender be recognized, why do I have to constantly fight and stop myself from reproducing negative racial stereotypes that simply don’t exist to begin with?"
Later on, Andrews advocates for justice, as human sustainability depends on it.
"I’m not a victim and refuse to be," she said. "Justice has to be made, and justice has to be made for us all. When severe life changes occur and you realize that nothing matters, existence is solely about education, raising consciousness, and improving the human condition for all."
Actress Dominique Jackson Has No Intention On Asking For Anyone's Respect
Pose star Dominique Jackson was the recipient of the HRC's National Equality Award. In her September 2019 acceptance speech, the 45-year-old highlighted the devastating consequences trans women of color suffer for living as their authentic selves.
"My loves, as a trans woman of color, we face violence. We face brutality. We face so much. ... We talk about love, but we forget about humanity. I am a human being just like each and every one of you. It is time that we stop with the aesthetic," she said in part. "My brothers and sisters hurt. We are murdered. ... To each and every one of you, it is about us understanding and respecting humanity."
"I will never, ever ask any of you for respect, I will demand it," Jackson closes. "You will not tell me that you accept me. You will not tell me that you tolerate me. That is not your power. I take that from you. You will respect me for who I am.
Activist Raquel Willis Gives An Energetic Word About Finding 'Your Power'
During the rally and silent march for Black trans lives in Brooklyn on June 14, Raquel Willis, a transgender activist and former executive editor of Out magazine, went viral after her "I Believe In #BlackTransPower" speech was shared by thousands online. A natural on stage, the Georgia native's statements will be etched in this pivotal moment in history for decades to come. Willis led an enthusiastic crowd of 15,000 people in a chant reminding them to believe in their power.
The “I Believe in #BlackTransPower” speech has been shared via clips throughout the week, but @mxalyzaenriquez captured it in full. Check it out below.
pic.twitter.com/doDomaXW87— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) June 19, 2020
Raquel Willis: I believe in my power.
Crowd: I believe in my power.
Raquel Willis: I believe in your power.
Crowd: I believe in your power.
Raquel Willis: I believe in our power.
Crowd: I believe in our power.
Raquel Willis: I believe in Black trans power.
Crowd: I believe in Black trans power.
Indie Singer Neverending Nina Points Out The Irony Of Black Lives Matter Omitting Trans Activists
In an interview with Grammy.com, indie singer Neverending Nina brilliantly explained that although the Black Lives Matter movement was created by Black queer women, it has undergone somewhat of an identity crisis as of late.
"Now, its leaders are sort of being co-opted by the normalcy of cishet imagery [that now represents the movement," the artist said. "Don't forget that it has to include all Black lives; we can’t push [equality] if not."
"We can’t say, 'My woman parts are gonna stay here and my Blackness is gonna go in first. Then I’ll leave my trans parts at the door.' There’s no separating the two," Neverending Nina said of the white, male-dominated music industry. "Because you're heteronormative, you’re gonna always lead with that and no one questions it. I'm just trying to get in this space so I can amplify my voice because I know I’m dope as f**k. But I keep getting pushback from the gatekeepers where they say, 'You're talented but you’re trans. So I don't know how society is going to take that.'"
If you want to aid in the fight for Black trans lives, check out this list of seven organizations to donate to.