Trans Day of Visibility 2019
A guest post by Carmen Jane, Learning & Development Specialist
Each year on March 31st, we recognize Transgender Day of Visibility – a day to celebrate and honor the lives of trans and non-binary people, while acknowledging the challenges the TGNB community faces in living authentically.
In 2018, a report was released by the Human Rights Campaign documenting the rates of violence and aggression against transgender and gender non-binary people: since 2013, at least 128 transgender people were victims of fatal violence; at least 110 of those victims were people of color.
According to another report by Taskforce.org, 41% of Black trans people have experienced homelessness – more than five times the rate of the general population. 26% of Black trans people reported unemployment – that’s two times the rate of other transgender people and four times that of the general population. 31% of Black transgender people have an income of less than $10,000 annually, and 20% of Black trans people are living with HIV.
To you, these statistics may be astounding and possibly even shocking – but for those who live with the compounded identity of being both a person of color and transgender, these are everyday facts we have no other option but to accept and silence ourselves in doing so.
Black Lives Matter has been a known (and mostly widely affirmed) proclamation in America since its beginning in 2013. Today, we still fight to push forth the idea that Black lives [and brown lives] still matter, regardless of gender, socio-economics, sexual orientation and ability. My Black body is not disposable, nor are my feelings and words. My life is not disposable. This year, TDOV means recognizing and honoring the substantial differences and experiences in the survival of Black and brown trans women in comparison to the trans community as a whole.
For Us By Us; A Word to Trans Women of Color:
The feeling happens every time I pass her on the street…….A Black woman, a woman of color. A rush of wonder and curiosity, admiration and joy fills my spirit. I wonder who she is, what her story is. Who or what is responsible for the expression on her face. Trans women of color are an entirely new wonder to me. Because I am her, I look for those signs – the insights that show me the realities of her day to day life. I understand this woman because I am this woman.
Formerly I didn’t recognize these moments, and finally, when did, I used to take these moments for granted. How foolish of me. I now recognize these candid moments as a way to connect, empathize with and understand every woman of color I knew intimately or not at all. This could be and eventually would be my way of connecting with other trans women of color and feeling less alone.
You are a legend who despite odds beats extinction. You are an alchemist who despite what the world tells you transform and create yourself beyond conventional boundaries. You are the greatest of all time because you are a chameleon who is able to adapt in order to preserve your survival. You are a phantom whose existence is hard to fathom given the way the world treats you. For as long as we have existed, our lives have been up for commentary, speculation, surveillance and debate. Please always remember you are and forever will be my world. I live my life in honor of you and in gratitude of the magnitude of your greatness. Thank you for everything you are and have given me without even fully recognizing the nature of what you do and who you are. If I could give my life to ensure the greatness of yours I would without hesitation. Please never apologize for the melanin that uniquely pigments your skin and creates the hue that some use as a weapon and others, like myself, honor. You are invaluable.
To me, the true meaning of Transgender Day of Visibility is every trans person – specifically trans women of color – to be seen as their full selves. On this day, Transgender Day of Visibility, I pray every desire you have is fulfilled; everything you wish for, you receive. I hope you are seen and esteemed for every intersection that makes up who you are. I wish for you to emerge from your home feeling reborn as the smell of crisp air fills the streets and the airiness in your steps allow you to glide through the day. Ponytails swing in the wind tightly coiled curls bouncing with every movement, earrings glistening in the sunlight, high heels crunching against the pavement, dresses floating in the air as you sing, my smile is beaming my skin is gleaming, the way it shiiinnne I know you seen it.
I See You.
Christian Carmen Jane
Christian Carmen Jane is the Learning & Development Specialist at Callen- Lorde Community Health Center, the global leader in LGBTQ health. She has worked as a facilitator in Diversity and Inclusion for over five years beginning her experience at the University of Cincinnati’s Racial Awareness Program office, an award-winning program known as the oldest running social justice inner dialogue group in the country with a 35 year history. Carmen has worked as an independent consultant and facilitator traveling to over 32 states to teach and share Diversity Equity and Inclusion models and exercises to various institutions and organizations. Carmen is also a published writer with features and writing credits in The Cincinnati Enquirer, Out Magazine, and The LA Times.