This constant preoccupation with justifying the murders of trans women acts to erase society’s responsibility for the culture of violence it creates. It erases the fact that your sons hit on trans women and often respond violently, verbally or physically, when rejected or confronted with the reality of our bodies; that you create a culture of ridicule, entitlement, confusion and fear around interacting with and dating trans bodies; that your daughters take part in the process of outing trans women to possible perpetrators, to leverage and enforce hierarchies of womanhood, to “protect” them from the “trick”, and in fact often find it a source of entertainment. It erases the Jerry Springers and the Maurys that sensationalize us. It erases the fact that TWoC are often murdered in the interest of protecting men’s honor and guarding their sexuality. It erases the fact that we are turned away from shelters and vital resources with the mantra that we aren’t “real women.” Every narrative centered around TWoC’s lives historically has said that we must have deserved it.

If Hester Prynne bore the scarlett letter, then Black Trans women bear the Scarlett Alphabet.


The perception of Olivia Pope is one of great controversy; yes, it appears that to most she is a beloved household name, but to some she is another symbol of a long line of black women cleaning up the messes of white folk. Affluent, beautiful, some would say deeply complex, Olivia Pope has risen to become a treasured symbol  and critiqued as being an educated maid turned unapologetic mistress. Now, I will admit, I adore Scandal and am thrilled by the way Shonda Rhimes has crafted a world of politics, sex, and race; one that if you looked behind the sensationalist surface you can see a masterful skill at play and an unapologetic critique on racism and double standards. Ms Rhimes navigates the art of sensual story telling and diverse casting. Likewise, Scandal also sky rocketed the fabulous Kerry Washington to become a household name.

If you look through Kerry Washington’s resume you will find a plethora of roles, each unique in their own way, she has shifted through cinematic drama and comedy alike. Outspoken about the need for LGBTQ diversity, GLAAD choose to honor her with the Ally Award and quickly the internet was abuzz with her rousing words and heartfelt sincerity, herself standing firm in the fact she is a devotee of diverse storytelling.  If you listen closely, you can even hear when she has to qualify her statement about LGBTQ representation by delving further into the need of there being diversity within the way LGBTQ stories show up onto our screens (I.e we need more people of color lgtbq representaion). The greatest irony however was as the camera panned out into the audience the lack of diversity was astounding.

While I celebrate her speech, which echoed many of my own sentiments around the hiring of LGBTQ people behind and in front of the camera, telling many different lgbtq stories and the inherent power in the art of storytelling, there was something that left me unsettled. In conversations around the ways in which homophobia and Transphobia appear within the black community, there is often a shaming of certain views without trying to delve into the historical root of these issues. To make a statement attempting to call black folk into accountability in a room of whiteness is a technique that often allows for the benefactors of white privilege to ignore their own hand in the ways this violence manifest, leading to an unbalanced conversation.

Historically, indigenous cultures, for the most part, were inclusive of what we would now consider LGBTQ people, when we track the progression, or digression rather, of the ways the acceptance of LGBTQ identities shifted within the context of cultures, the violence that occurs around the disdain of these identities are often linked with both the rise of “whiteness” and the way religious dogma manifest through a white European lens. Secondly, the conversations had around race and LGBTQ folk can not be separated. I myself have witnessed the erasure of trans and queer people of color from white cis run organizations, I myself have witnessed the appropriation of blackness while discarding black people within white queer spaces and I assure you these are not exceptions but unspoken rules that continue to be reinforced by many LGBTQ white folk.

Structural oppression often tells white LGBTQ people that to make progress they themselves have to sell a piece of their souls to the “church” of white supremacy and it’s continued perpetuation. Structural oppression then also tells black LGBTQ people they must be ready and willing to tokenize themselves if they want to eat, but these manifestations of oppression/violence are rooted in the fact that suppression of LGBTQ folks, within an American and African (at least) context, is without a doubt linked to the suppression of people of color and their indigenous cultures.  So, fast forward to a beautiful black cis woman, celebrated for being an amazing ally to the lgbtq community offering an informed critique on lack of diversity, then watch the audience she addresses and it’s lack of black and brown bodies and then we can begin to have a truly intersectional and beneficial conversation.

I have written before and I will write again; I must acknowledge that we can not cultivate conversations around homophobia and transphobia without discussing it’s roots, that are neither rooted in or indigenous to blackness/black people. As my sister Kerry sat and gave her rousing speech calling for more poc LGBTQ diversity  I was astounded by the sea of whiteness that blanketed the space, standing and clapping as if the lack of any kind of color was not in and of itself apart of her critique. It is not enough for us to have conversations where only black folk who may be homophobic or transphobic are called into accountability, we must then reflect on and call out how many spaces occupied and run by corporate mainstream white queerness causes insidious cycles of classism and racism which are without a doubt linked to the roots of homophobia and transphobia as it presents itself in these united states.

I will not allow the tokenization of Kerry Washington’s image to be the end of the conversation because for too long while LGBTQ poc have worked to shift the narrative many white cis run organizations have been complicit in the attempted erasure of our lives, stories, and work. So, I say without accountability there can be no celebration. Without accountability there can be no justice. It is not enough to make us smiling faces on posters, it is not enough to make us tokens, it is not enough to attempt to tell our stories, it is not enough to try to silence us while utilizing the images of our sisters as bargaining chips for white privileged complacency.


About the new Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860

Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well being of transgender people. We run a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people. Trans Lifeline volunteers are ready to respond to whatever support needs members of our community might have.

This is a FREE helpline run by volunteers and supported by the community.

Who is this line for?

This line is primarily for transgender people experiencing a crisis. This includes people who may be struggling with their gender identity and are not sure that they are transgender. While our goal is to prevent self harm, we welcome the call of any transgender person in need. We will do our very best to connect them with services that can help them meet that need. If you are not sure whether you should call or not, then please call.

Who will answer when I call?

Our hotline is staffed by the true experts on transgender experience, transgender people themselves. Our volunteers are all trans identified and educated in the range of difficulties transgender people experience. Our volunteers are dedicated to improving the lives of transgender people. Full line up of operators.

When can I call?

Call whenever you need help.

Who made this?

Greta Martela created this hotline to help you. It’s powered byPocket Hotline, a system that provides personalized hotlines for communities.

I’m not in a crisis, but I’d like to talk to someone about Trans Lifeline.

If you are a member of the press, represent other LGBT orgranizations or are otherwise looking for more information about our work, please call Greta Martela at (415) 483-5361.

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This morning I woke up to a TIME cover story about the trans movement being at a tipping point and seeing my dear friend and sister Laverne Cox on the cover. Such a major media moment for a trans woman of color to be visible and vocal in this way, helping spark multiple conversations about identity, about the intersection of race, class, gender and so much more. 

The cover story is not available online (you must purchase the magazine or get a digital subscription) but a behind-the-scenes video and Q&A with Laverne is.

Badass Trans Women You Should Know: Cecilia Chung.

Cecilia Chung is a senior advisor to the Transgender Law Center, a San Francisco City Health Commissioner, and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. She was honored last night by the California State Assembly as one of its Women of the Year for her tireless advocacy for trans women’s health access.

Congrats Cecilia!

Incomplete list of books by black trans women:

Sharon Davis, A Finer Specimen Of Womanhood (1986) [Out of print]

The Lady Chablis, Hiding My Candy (1997)

Toni Newman, I, Rise (2011)

Ceyenne Doroshow, Cooking in Heels (2012)

Janet Mock, Redefining Realness (2014)

Tenika Watson and Jennifer Daelyn, My Life is No Accident: A memoir by Tenika Watson (2014)

Dane Figueroa Edidi, Yemaya’s Daughters (2014)

Garland Guidry, Memoirs of a GayShe (2014)

So this is Piers Morgan’s response to Janet Mock’s critical reaction to the way he framed his interview with her. Several other tweets are at the end of this buzzfeed article about Janet Mock.

So what we have here is a cisgender white man showing his true colors when a trans woman of color (actually two trans women of color, since Laverne Cox was with Janet when the interview aired) objects to the way the interview was framed, by saying Janet “used to be a man” and that she “was a boy until she turned 18,” and obsessing over her relationships and disclosures to the men she’s dated and her anatomy and when she’s had surgery and not talking about the trans women of color’s lived realities. 

So tomorrow night (or rather, later tonight since it’s after midnight for me) we’ll get to see a cisgender white man with a rather far reaching media platform have a go at a black trans woman because she didn’t show the proper amount of deference and gratitude about the way the interview was framed.

Toni D’orsay has a better post on this, but that tweet above has been pissing me off since I saw it. The sheer arrogance of this man. It’s not about him being treated in a “disgraceful manner.” It’s about who dared to challenge him.


Fuck Yeah Queer Latin@s in Books!

  1. Trauma Queen by Lovemme Corazón
  2. Chulito by Charles Rice-Gonzalez
  3. Down to the Bone by Maya Lazara Dole
  4. City of Night by John Rechy
  5. The Rain God by Arturo Islas
  6. The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
  7. The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poetica by Maya Chinchilla
  8. Their Dogs Came with Them by Helena Maria Viramontes
  9. Make Love to Rage by Morgan Robyn Collado

Keymori Shatoya Johnson was the 13th known trans woman of color to be murdered in 2014 in the United States. She was 24, from Dayton, Georgia. Rest in peace, rise in power, Keymori. Your life matters. 

** I know that the total number varies from source to source. Please leave a note if you want to correct the number. It is clear we face an epidemic of violence against trans women of color. 

“If I’m going to have a public platform, I want to use it not just to elevate myself but to elevate issues that are important to me. I know a lot of people would rather not have me be the face of this thing…but what’s exciting about what’s happening now, culturally, is that there are so many more trans folks coming forward and saying, ‘This is who I am, this is my story, I will not be silent anymore, I will not be in hiding anymore,’ and that’s when a movement really happens, right?” - Laverne Cox, The Making of an Icon