How to Fight Alongside the Black Trans Lives Matter Movement

How to Fight Alongside the Black Trans Lives Matter Movement
How to Fight Alongside the Black Trans Lives Matter Movement
Shannon Barbour

From Seventeen

At least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2020—two Black trans women, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton, were recently found dead within 24 hours of each other. Calls to end solitary confinement have surged after the death of 27-year-old trans woman Layleen Polanco. Trump repealed transgender health care protections during Pride month and on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The Housing and Urban Development department proposed a dangerous rule that would permit federally-funded homeless shelters to ignore someone's gender identity and judge them based on physical characteristics to determine if they belong in a particular shelter. And the Black community continues to fight for racial equality as the Black Lives Matter movement progresses.

Sadly, too often when we talk about Black Lives Matter, all Black lives are not centered. That’s especially true when it comes to Black trans people, who are killed and incarcerated at disproportionate rates and don’t feel totally included and represented by the BLM movement. But as so many scholars and activists have previously said in one form or another, if your activism isn’t intersectional and doesn’t include the most at-risk communities, then you’re not fighting for true equality.

Following the horrific news of this year, the LGBTQ+ community, Black Lives Matter protestors, and allies continue to flood streets across the nation to show that Black trans lives matter. Whether or not you've been protesting, there’s still so much more work to do, so here are some ways you can get involved and help.

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Cis folks of the Movement 4 Black Lives, the larger queer movement, and the feminist movement have long failed Black trans people. It's time for a reckoning on your collective silence and inaction. . What will it take for y’all to hear us? Do you really read these posts, read these articles, hear our pleas, hear our speeches, and feel nothing? . I believe the #BlackTransMovement has said in nearly every way that the communities we share with y’all need transformation and that we can’t do it alone. I’ve been saying over and over again lately what does it mean to defund and abolish police when we’d still end up harmed. A fight against state violence is only scratching the surface. You act as if you’ll get to what’s happening to us one day, but our lives can’t wait! And the thing is, the same transphobia that fuels your inaction, your silence, is the same transphobia that brutally attacks us. It’s a spectrum of violence. . And the murders of our sisters, brothers, and siblings is just one, albeit the most deadly, type of violence. There's the violence for many of us of continually being told we aren't enough. We aren't the right children for our parents. We aren't the right peers for the bullies on the playground. We aren't the right students for our schools. We aren't the right lovers for are partners. We aren't the right employees for our workplaces. We aren't the right activists for our communities. And damn it, we aren't even the right victims for our movements to fight for. . Imagine the luxury of only caring about the lives of cis folks, cis men. Imagine the luxury of only mourning the deaths that happen for cis folks, cis men. We mourn for you, do you mourn for us? We cry for you, do you cry for us? We rally for you, do you rally for us? We imagine better for you, do you imagine better for us? Here’s another morning, after another long night of wondering, “What will it take for y’all to hear us?” #BlackTransLivesMatter #BlackTransPower

A post shared by Raquel Willis (@raquel_willis) on Jun 12, 2020 at 3:28am PDT

Get Out and March

As we've seen the past couple of months, when people physically show up for the trans community, it’s nothing short of powerful. Thousands and thousands of people marched in demonstrations across the nation and proved that this movement will not peter out. If you do decide to protest, wear a face mask and protective gear to prevent the spread of coronavirus and in case the police escalate the situation with dangerous tactics, as we’ve seen during past protests.

Photo credit: Michael Noble Jr. - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Noble Jr. - Getty Images

Collect Supplies

If you can’t protest, you can still help your city by collecting snacks, water, fans, ice packs—literally whatever someone protesting in the summer heat might find useful—and passing them out wherever you feel comfortable near the demonstration. To help pay for all this, consider asking your friends and fam to Venmo you some extra cash so you can keep the supplies flowing as long as possible.

Photo credit: Erik McGregor - Getty Images
Photo credit: Erik McGregor - Getty Images

Open Your Purse

The GoFundMe for Tony McDade, a Black trans man who was shot and killed by a Tallahassee police officer, is still accepting donations to help cover the cost of funeral services, mental health and grief counseling, and legal fees for Tony’s family.

Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells’ and Riah Milton’s families both set up GoFundMes to help them cover funeral costs and have met their goal thanks to the public's support. Additional funds from the GoFundMe set up for Milton’s family will be donated to “various organizations focusing on supporting the arts, the supporting of foster care kids, and the supporting of Black transgender individuals.”

Also demand justice for Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old trans woman who died of an epileptic seizure in solitary confinement after guards failed to check on her, waited 90 minutes to call for help, and were caught on camera laughing at her. (None of the officers are facing criminal charges and the New York Times reports a year after Polanco’s death that 17 Rikers guards will be “disciplined” after renewed public scrutiny.) March with No New Jails in Polanco’s honor and donate specifically to New York’s Emergency Release Fund, which launched after Polanco’s death and helps the release of people in the LGBTQ+ community specifically.

There are countless bail funds you can donate to for protestors who have been arrested, but if you want to give to a national organization that specifically aims to help the LGBTQ+ community, check out the LGBTQ Fund, Trans Justice Funding Project, Emergency Release Fund, The Okra Project, Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, G.L.I.T.S., and For the Gworls.

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Gofundme Link in bio pls repost. #blacktranslivesmatter

A post shared by Naima Tine (@lavenderlilacviolet) on Jun 13, 2020 at 10:21am PDT

And if you post your donation on social media, consider asking your followers if they’ll match you. It’s such an easy way to double, triple, quadruple, etc. your donation and it only requires typing out, “Will somebody match me?”

Sign Petitions

The Black Lives Matter movement is laser-focused on police brutality. Unfortunately, the deaths of Black trans people often don’t get as much attention or outrage. Sign this petition to ensure Tony McDade receives justice. And this petition demands justice for Titi “Tete” Gulley, who was found hanging in a Portland, Oregon, park. Her death was originally ruled as suicide, but her family believes there was foul play.

To help defund the police, sign Black Lives Matter’s petition to voice your belief that government funds should be reallocated to organizations that build up the local community instead of being funneled into police departments.

Photo credit: Sarah Morris - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sarah Morris - Getty Images

Advocate for Trans-Inclusive Health Care

Trump’s move to erase transgender health care protections will be challenged by the Human Rights Campaign in a lawsuit. Support the HRC along with Planned Parenthood’s continued commitment to providing affordable gender-affirming health care. Organizations like Trans Buddy Pittsburgh and local LGBTQ+ Community Centers also work to help increase health care access for trans and nonbinary people. To learn more about flipping the Senate to better protect the LGBTQ+ community, check out Vote Save America.

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BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER. BLACK TRANS LIVES ARE BEAUTIFUL. BLACK TRANS LIVES ARE SACRED. .. when we were writing our book, i had to revisit our page on murders of Black trans women multiple times to update the list. i knew by the time the book was published, it would be outdated. the page on slide two was finalized in june 2019. slide three is june 2020, and look how many names of Black and POC trans people - mostly Black trans women - we needed to add. and this may not even be all of the names - this doesn't include people misgendered in death, deemed "suicides", unidentified homeless people, and so on. what the fuck??? where is the outrage? where is the intersectionality? where are the marches? if you consider yourself a supporter of Black lives; a feminist; a queer; an ally; then it's (past) time for you to step up for Black trans lives. 91% of all deaths of trans or gnc people are Black women. the LIFE EXPECTANCY of Black trans women is 35 years old. tr*mp and his cronies just passed multiple laws taking huge steps back for our trans community - and while i am trans and affected by this and horrified, this affects Black trans women the MOST. making it harder to find healthcare, housing, and access to homeless shelters pushes Black trans women further into unsafe situations. i am disgusted not only by the directly transphobic actions of our unsafe administration, but also by the casual transphobia that is rife in our society and KILLS PEOPLE. proven in the fact that this problem is not widely discussed outside of queer communities. if you claim you stand for Black lives, then you stand for ALL Black lives. there is no pride in our community to celebrate while so many of us are being killed. .. if you don't know any Black trans people and don't follow any Black trans people, you're intentionally keeping yourself in the dark. and your willful ignorance is violence that directly contributes to Black trans death. just some suggestions for people to add to your feed (and don't stop here...and pay them): @hopedisguised @raquel_willis @ashleemariepreston @munroebergdorf @aaron__philip @ihartericka @hood_biologist CONTINUED IN COMMENTS

A post shared by Ash + Chess (@ashandchess) on Jun 13, 2020 at 10:03am PDT

Here are guides for how to demand justice right now, how to find mental health resources if you’re a Black woman, how to talk to your relatives about Black Lives Matter, how to spot a fake protest story, and how to protest safely.

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