Coming Soon: Transgender Day(s) of Action 2015
Each November, in hundreds of cities across the world, we gather for a Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) to mourn and celebrate the lives of trans people who have been victims of violence, especially those who have paid the ultimate price. We invite survivors and surviving family members to show them we have their backs, forever. We sing, speak, perform sacred ceremonies, and, most of all, redouble our personal commitments to help stem the objectification of, discrimination against, and violence wrought on trans people, particularly trans women of color.
Several years ago, VenusPlusX helped initiate the first-ever extension of a TDOR in Washington, DC, to encompass a Trans Day of Action (TDOA). We worked in coalition with more than a dozen local and national organizations and individuals.
Planning for the TDOA took place over a 6-month period. We were successful in bringing about some substantive and sustainable changes to DC that continue these years later. We were able to translate the community concerns of actual trans victims of violence into goals, objectives, targets, and tactics that worked because we never lost sight of these concerns and sought consensus with the entire coalition at each stage of planning and execution. The rise of violence against trans women of color and regressive behavior of police in DC and everywhere have increased the dangers and risk over the last few years, so there is a new demand for another TDOA.
Ruby Corado, Dan Massey, and I reported out our methodology and results at a Philly Trans Health Conference the following spring to reach activists suffering with similar problems in other cities. This year I hope to be working with DC and NYC to help planners in both cities, hoping to cross-polinate ideas. In anticipation of this year’s TDOA, I am offering up this blog and the tools we used that so effectively brought about results. If you want to join the group of volunteer planners, you can contact me or Earline Budd (firstname.lastname@example.org) and attend all of the meetings.
I remember going to the DC TDOR a few days after our action and hearing that cold cases were being re-opened, human rights complaints were receiving attention, and officials in the police department, the attorney general’s office, and in city government were reaching out to help. We received supportive media coverage both before and after the action. Putting boots on the ground in an effective manner made these officials suddenly more accommodating to our demands in the conference room.
Subsequently, dozens more activists and allies were brought into the process and continued to make even more positive change in the areas of healthcare, housing, and employment, including allowing trans people to change the info on their birth certificate.
Under the aegis of what we called the TLGB Police Watch, weekly meetings with coalition representatives featured victims and their stories of violence and police bias. Police discrimination of black trans women was rampant, underpinning so much of the violence. Subjective roadblocks in city government and the attorney general’s office, stemming often from the prejudice of just a few, were particularly hard on trans people as they sought employment, healthcare, and housing. Perhaps most frustrating was the lack of enforcement of the oldest-and-best-of-the-nation human rights protections.
Working together we turned these community concerns into goals we wanted to meet, and broke them out into specific objectives which ultimately became a set of written demands. Once we did that we were able to identify just the right targets and tactics that would draw the immediate attention of the public at large and the media.
This was our poster that was hung all over town, in stores bars, dorms, public buildings, and given out on the street, helping to bring in more planning volunteers and participants in the action itself.
Watch this space for updates.
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