We are chanting “Black Lives Matter” throughout the streets of Downtown Dallas. The crowd is unified, we believe in this mantra, in these powerful words that echo off the high rises, so much so that for a second the crowd believes another group is on the other side. The chants continue, one individual leading the group, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!…. BLACK WOMEN MATTER!… BLACK MEN MATTER!” and suddenly, with one last phrase, a divide. “BLACK TRANS MATTER”. At this point you feel the disconnect, you hear some individuals in the group expressing annoyance. One man comes up to the protestor and confronts him, “Man, cut that out, we do not need to talk about gays or trans, that’s not the point.”
Every year, June 1st marks the start of Pride Month, a month-long celebration typically marked with joy, excitement, and parades; however, but this year pride has started on a different note. On June 1st, Iyanna Dior, a black trans woman, was seen brutally beaten during a protest in Minneapolis. With a global pandemic and national outrage and pain over violence against black people, hope and celebration may feel hard; however, I believe it’s helpful to remember we’ve been here before. Pride Month celebrates a moment in history that gave birth to progress and change.
On June 28th, 1969, eight officers from NYC PD raided The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Although bar raids were not new to patrons, June 28th marked a turning point. In the middle of the raid, Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, shouted out “I got my civil rights!” and threw a shot glass into a mirror. Her actions that night ignited a movement, uniting neighboring bars and hundreds resisting arrest, fighting against police oppression. Over the next six days, thousands would turn out to protest the violence against LGBTQ lives all because of Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, demanded her civil rights. The Stonewall Riots amplified a movement that had been ongoing as early as the 1920s.
Protest such as those occurring from Stonewall and more recently in support of black lives have shown mobilization and change is both necessary and possible.
Together, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx Trans Woman, rallied the rioters at Stonewall, created a sanctuary for homeless trans girls, and empowered so many others to stand up for their rights. Fifty years later the legacy of Ms. Johnson and Ms. Rivera have largely been forgotten by those who re-tell history; however, in order to continue moving forward, we must not forget the work of black and other people of color in LGBTQ activism. In the past five years, more transgender people have been killed in Texas than any other state (15 to be exact). BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) trans women experience multiple forms of discrimination: transphobia, misogyny, and racism. There are nineteen states and Washington D.C. that have hate-crime laws that address sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Texas is one of 11 states that has protection in its hate crime law for sexual orientation, but not gender identity. This can leave transgender individuals vulnerable when hate crimes are committed against them. The time is now to have courageous conversations with your loved ones and show up for ALL black lives.
Her name was Muhlaysia Booker. Her name was Chynal Lindsey. Her name was Marsha P. Johnson. His name was Tony McDade.
Timeless photo of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera marching in Gay Pride Parade June 1973.
BLACK TRANS LIVES
Here are some ways that you can take action and show up for Black Trans Lives:
Ask yourself: Am I aware of the issues BIPOC trans people face? What relationships have I built with BIPOC trans people and are there BIPOC trans people that know they can reach out to me if they need safety or support?
Educate yourself on Intersectionality– there is a long history of oppression and plenty of resources available.
The Trevor Project: Access information preventing suicide and unique resources for LGBTQ youth
DALLAS PRIDE MONTH
Here is the recent statement from Dallas Pride about the recent protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd from their website:
“Dallas Pride stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Our founders fought against police brutality at Stonewall just as police oppression against people of color and other marginalized communities is still being battled today. Racial injustice, systemic racism and any form of oppression cannot be accepted, and neither can the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. While we are not able to host an in-person event in 2020 for Dallas Pride or for Black Lives Matter due to health concerns related to the COVID pandemic, we stand together with our Black community, with our friends, neighbors, volunteers, supporters and allies, in the vision of a nation where there truly is liberty and justice for all.”
And mark your calendars for “Dallas Pride Goes Virtual” on July 25-26th! Learn more about the new, “The Pride of Texas, a virtual celebration” on their website.
The Resource Center Dallas: a trusted leader that empowers the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) communities and all people affected by HIV through improving health and wellness, strengthening families and communities, and providing transformative education and advocacy.
Visit our sex education resource hub Talk About It Dallas.com to get information and resources about sexuality, gender, LGBTQ, local North Texas clinic resources, and much more.