Attack on the Transgender Community Is an Attack on Racial Justice

According to The New York Times, the Trump administration is seeking to legally define gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” This regressive proposal would magnify the harm that at least two million transgender people in this country already face on a daily basis—whether being denied access to healthcare, employment, housing, or basic civil rights.

This proposal, like many others before it, would particularly harm transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people of color, who are fighting to survive in a society that devalues their lives because of systemic racism and transphobia. In just the past two years, we have seen this administration doubling down on the criminalization of Black communities, immigrant communities, Muslim communities, and more. It is important to remember that TGNC people are a part of these communities and are often most adversely impacted by the actions of this administration.

We also recognize that this administration’s attempts to legally narrow the definition of gender is part of a pattern of tactics meant to divide us and distract us from their attacks on our bodies, our communities, and our democratic institutions. Just as their attacks are interconnected, so is our liberation.

As we continue to fight this proposal, we listen to the practical advice shared on Colorlines by Key Jackson, Director of Movement and Capacity Building at Race Forward, and Malcolm Shanks, Senior Trainer and Content Coordinator at Race Forward.

At Race Forward, we amplify this advice and encourage you to:

  • Be racially explicit about the impact of legally narrowing the definition of gender on TGNC people of color.
  • Reject the notion that transgender justice is a wedge issue. Instead, we assert that affirming the full humanity of TGNC people, particularly TGNC people of color, leads us to more just world that is fair and beneficial for everyone.
  • Lift up the leadership of TGNC people of color, who have been at the forefront of both transgender and racial justice movements at home and across the globe.

We recognize the impact of this proposal on TGNC communities, particularly TGNC communities of color. We stand together with our TGNC staff, partners, and other movement leaders of color who are resilient in their struggle for liberation. As Key and Malcolm share:

“Amid all of the chaos and fear mongering, it is imperative that we as transgender and gender nonconforming folks remember who we are in relationship to one another, not just who we are to the state. We are creativity, vitality and life. We are healers and freedom fighters, parents, lovers, siblings and friends. We have been creating an existence within systems and structures that do not seek to serve us for centuries. Community care is life. Consider who it is that you are accountable to and reach for them. Check in on your folks, cook for one another, rage, reflect and cultivate joy.”

 We encourage all people, including cisgender people, to take action, amplify this issue through your networks, and to support groups, particularly led by and for TGNC and queer people of color.

These groups include, but are not limited to: Trans Women of Color Collective, BreakOUT!, Casa Ruby, Transitions Louisiana, Louisiana Trans Advocates, TransLatin@ Coalition, Trans Justice Funding Project, Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Two Spirit Nation, Black Trans Advocacy, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Black Alliance of Just Immigration, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, GSA Network, Trans Lifeline, Transgender Law Center.