November 13-17 marks Trans Awareness Week, a week when individuals and organizations around the country have helped raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people. Transgender people and allies have taken action to educate others on the injustices that the trans community faces on a daily basis and to, hopefully, end violence against trans individuals.
According to the HRC, 2017 has already seen 25 transgender people killed due to violence that spawns from racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. But awareness and advocacy for the trans community necessitates more than a single week of exposure. Prejudice is killing us all—we endure ridicule and regardless of the progress we have made as the LGBTQ community, we have a long way to go.
Acceptance must also begin from within our inner circles. In the LGBTQ family, we often are quick to ignore members of the acronym or discredit narratives we don’t identify with. We come from positions of privilege and must understand that no matter how perilous our path, there are others whose struggles are fatal because we choose not to speak up.
Qween Amor, a 26-year-old trans activist from New Orleans promotes trans awareness every day. It is her reality and she uses her platform on social media to supplement her in-person demonstrations. With a larger-than-life flag that reads “I will not CENSOR myself to comfort your ignorance!” and attire that would definitely warrants a response, Qween Amor stops traffic, dancing to the beat of her own drum, inviting others to react to the way she carries herself—for the good of others. She welcomes dialogue and hopes that her own cosmic journey will shed light on the beauty that is our diverse world.
What kind of dialogue do you hope to create with your demonstrations?
I'd really like to start conversations that include creating safe environments for Transqueer POC. That includes acknowledging pronouns and not assuming gender. If you don't know or aren't sure, please feel free to ask. We, as a society, need to have real conversations about Police Reformation. The biggest threat to our community are the police. They reinforce racist social structures and often times are not held accountable for violent or excessive force. What can we do to reprogram the program? I hope my work inspires people to take action and feel inspired to fight for what they believe in because the truth is unless we stand United, we don't stand a chance and things can get so much worse. Let's not forget that there are still concentration camps in Chechnya for gay men and trans women, of which the media stopped reporting on back in May 2017.
With the death toll rising on a daily basis for the trans community, how can trans Awareness be a catalyst for change?
Visibility! Visibility! Visibility! The reason the death toll is rising is because we are often times running in the shadows of society. A lot of us are sex workers and that's how we survive in a world that says we shouldn't exist. Our government is doing everything in it's power to dehumanize the trans community, from passing bathroom bills to denying us healthcare and firing us from our jobs. These struggles that we are facing are struggles that we can only overcome through the support of our community. In my experience, as a transqueer person of color, staying safe means being involved in community. People need to know you're here, people need to see and meet you. We need each other to protect our rights and our freedoms. Trans Liberation is Gay Liberation. True liberation for our community cannot exist until we are all liberated.
Do you feel the LGBTQ community often forgets the trans community? If so, why do you think that is?
Oh fuck ya. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are the Mothers of our movement. They gave us permission to fight back and stand our ground. Our pride celebration started as a riot because two Trans Women of Color had enough. In all the years I've celebrated pride, I never hear Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera mentioned. Gay men forgot about those two women and they don't see us now. Trans women of color face oppression from their own community because We are no longer sexually desirable. I find that a lot of people in the LGBTQ community find safety in hetereonormative lifestyles but that is a privilege that most Transqueer POC do not have and that failure to meet such heavy societal expectations is why trans people of color are the most marginalized and oppressed communities in our society.
How are your demonstrations received by others?
Alot of time people are moved to dance and take a small break from life for a moment. I open space for everyone to let go and breathe. I give people permission to be themselves and through this we experience our humanity. The best is when I get hundreds of people dancing in the street, TOGETHER! I do understand that my performances really force people to confront their prejudices. I have been assaulted, I have been targeted by police, I have been dragged through the dirt. Each time, I pull myself up out of the gutter, brush that shit off my shoulder and keep going. I have to keep fighting.
What messages do you hope to convey?
I hope to convey a message of freedom and love. And that no one in this world is just gonna hand you freedom. You take your freedom, you take it and you own it. The most powerful force in the world is when the people actively take their Freedom. Together, we can move mountains like poverty and racism. The most important event that could ever happen in human history is US coming together. That's what we're waiting for. Our power lies in our unity. That's our revolution. Our rights are human rights and they can never deny our humanity. The love I aim to spread is a love that can only be found within. True love is self-love. Love your body. Love your skin. Love your hair. Love your mind and your heart. No one told me growing up to love myself, it would have been great had that told me that secret.
For more information on Trans Awareness Week, visit GLAAD