Monday, December 23, 2013

Black Trans Year In Review 2013

Those were just some of the stories that were part of our Black trans year in review for 2012.   I hope this post is even longer and chock full of even more groundbreaking achievements for our community in the twelve months ahead.  
--TransGriot December 28, 2012

The year 2013 is about to exit stage left in a few days and make room for 2014.   It was a year in which we continued to see groundbreaking progress and achievements for the Black trans community.. 

But unfortunately we started off 2013 like we did 2012 with the horrific murder of transman Evon Young in Milwaukee, WI.  He went missing on New Year's Eve and his body was never found. 

The five people involved in this heinous crime and their cases are being resolved in the legal system now..

Evon was one of twelve African American transpeople to die during the 2012-2013 TDOR cycle.  Sadly, another pattern that persists in the wake of murders of African-American transpeople in addition the extreme levels of violence aimed at them by the perpetrators of this killings is ongoing media (and police) misgendering of them.  

The most egregious example of media misgendering happening was in the wake of the Cemia 'CeCe' Dove Acoff case in Cleveland, OH by their local paper of record.  A letter delivered in November by a group of concerned Cleveland LGBT citizens has resulted in improved coverage of the TBLG community.  We'll be watching to see if that is a permanent change in the culture of the Cleveland Plain Dealer or they will backslide toward committing journalistic hate crimes again.    

So let's take a moment to remember Evon Young, Ashley Sinclair, Kelly Young, Cemia 'CeCe' Dove Acoff, Milan Boudreaux, Artegus Konyale Madden, Domonique Newburn, Eyricka, Morgan, Diamond Williams, Amari Hill, Islan Nettles, and C. Lipscomb.  

Let's not forget that CeCe McDonald is still sitting in a Minnesota jail for standing her ground and defending herself against a racist and transphobic attack and transteen D. Sage Smith is still missing over a year later.  

Islan Nettles Murder Appeal We are increasingly seeing the people committing these crimes against us being caught and prosecuted.   While that has yet to happen for Kelly Young, C. Lipscomb, Konyale Madden or Domonique Newburn, Cemia Acoff's killer Andrey Bridges in now sitting in an Ohio jail cell until at least 2034 and hope the same happens soon in the cases of Deoni Jones and Islan Nettles.  

People who survived horrific attacks like our sisters Bree Wallace and Coko Williams also saw the people who attacked them get arrested, convicted and sentenced to jail time for doing so.

We witnessed in 2013 Toni D'orsay's dream with an assist from Jen Richards become a reality in terms of the unveiling of the inaugural Trans 100 List.  The diverse list included 11 African-American trans women and  4 African-American trans men    Nominations are being taken for the second edition of the list which will be released in 2014 will include international trans people, so get them in before January 15.

2013 was also a huge breakout year for Janet Mock and Laverne Cox.   In addition to being named on various community lists inside and outside the trans community, collecting numerous awards and doing countless speeches, both made appearances on talk shows ranging from 'HuffPo Live' to 'The Melissa Harris-Perry Show'.  

In addition, Janet's book Redefining Realness is set to hit bookstores in February 2014 while Laverne has garnered major buzz for her breakout acting role as Sophia Burset in the Netflix hit series 'Orange Is The New Black' which will start its second buzz producing season in the Summer 2014.

We also had B. Scott announcing she was trans* in the wake of being discriminated against at the BET Awards.  B's evolution to Team Trans will be one of the things we'll be watching in the upcoming year.

The transbrothers were also making major strides and stepping up to their leadership roles in the Black trans community as well.  The Black Trans Advocacy Conference that began in Dallas last year and hosted by Black Transmen, Inc got bigger and better in 2013.   It moved to the Doubletree Campbell Center for its second edition, expanded its programming, opened its doors to trans women and gave out awards.  The third annual edition of BTAC will be taking place in Dallas April 29-May 4.

In addition to BTMI expanding from its Dallas headquarters and adding new state chapters, they also formed a Black Transwomen, Inc sister organization.   Trans 100 honoree Carter Brown continued his rise as a major national leader and challenged cis Black leaders to stand up for Black transpeople.

Whether the leadership of traditional Black civil rights orgs, the clergy, Black SGL people and Black politicians at the local, state and federal level consistently do so is something that we'll be anxiously watching in the Black trans ranks in 2014.

Trans Persons of Color Coalition (TPOCC) also continued its climb towards becoming a respected national organization by holding its first lobby day in Washington DC with ENDA and immigration reform being its top issues.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) on September 20 featured the trans brothers in a town hall of their own at this year's fourth edition of OUT on the Hill.  

Kortney ZieglerDr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler was also getting some love and things done.  In September he organized Trans* H4CK, the first ever hackathon in Oakland that melded the hackathon platform with trans social justice issues.   Kortney was also named to the Root 100 list of influencers and achievers in the African-American community oi addition addition to being honored with several awards for his innovative social justice activism and thoughtful blog commentary.

Kortney is also working on expanding trans hackathons across the nation, so we'll be watching in 2014 just how successful our trans brother is in doing so.

Speaking of blog commentary, Black trans bloggers, be they in written format like TransGriot now heading into its 8th anniversary year on January 1, blac(k) ademic or in video format like Diamond Stylz are telling it like it T-I-S is on many subjects with a new generation of written and video bloggers coming online in their trailblazing wakes to tell our stories in 2014.

Kylar Broadus also was making moves in 2013.   He was tapped to lead the Task Force's Transgender Civil Rights Project in September and named to the OUT 100 List.

Like everyone else in the country, we African-descended trans people also celebrated the November 7 passage of the trans inclusive Employment and Non Discrimination Act  (ENDA) in the US Senate. 

That human rights project has been ongoing for several decades, but one of the people we can thank for helping us get the 64-32 vote is Kylar, whose historic June 12, 2012  committee testimomy is widely credited as not only solidifying the inclusion of trans people in ENDA, but swaying many senators to support the bill.   

One of the things I talked about in the wake of mine and other people's ongoing frustrations with TDOR is that the people memorialized at these events are predominately Black and Latina, but the people organizing and conducting the ceremonies are overwhelmingly white.   I warned that if that dynamic didn't change and get more inclusive, you would start to see separate TDOR's for the same reason that separate pride events exist. 

That prediction may have come to pass in 2013.  We had happen in my hometown on November 20 the first ever Black trans organized TDOR event in the United States thanks to Dee Dee Watters.  Will we see others in the rest of the US in 2014?   That's something to watch, too    

So as we turn our attention toward 2014, we still have some old challenges to overcome.  Once again during the Christmas season we have lost another transwoman, Brittany Stergis to anti-trans violence in Cleveland and had her disrespected by local media outlets.  

As the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "We must accept finite disappointment but must never lose infinite hope."  We've had our share of finite disappointment in 2013, survived and overcome it because of our infinite hope and belief in creating a better future for ourselves and our community. .

Now it's time to experience more infinite hope and success in the Black trans community ranks in the rapidly approaching New Year.  

And as long as I'm blessed to do so, I'll be chronicling it on these electronic pages in 2014.

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