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In recognition of Women’s History Month, the coordinator for transgender health at Swedish celebrates trans women activists and their legacies.
Today, trans women are helping to provide housing and other support for the trans and gender-diverse community.
It’s also important to recognize the revolutionary work of early activists in the community and its ongoing impact.
Every March we celebrate Women’s History Month. It is a time for us to be intentional about recognizing the profound contributions to our communities and society by women. Women have always been a part of the fabric of our history, creating relevant social and political theory (like Kimberlé W. Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins), crafting items that improve of way of life (such as Dr. Patricia Bath and Madam C.J. Walker) and building culture (hello Beyoncé and Leiomy Maldonado).
As we celebrate the fierceness of women throughout the years and how they often had to challenge the status quo with the odds stacked against them, I am quickly reminded of the trans women who have paved the way for reimagining a world that normalizes the humanity of the trans community and who have built into our culture and society what no one else would.
One of these women is Kayla Gore, founder of My Sistas House as well as the Tiny Home Project. In an interview with GLAAD, Kayla explains “It’s harder to overcome certain things, and it’s harder to access certain things because my transness stands out before my Blackness, and my queerness, and all of my other intersectional identities, my transness is brought into awareness first.” When thinking about how transness impacts access to critical services and opportunities she states, “I always think about those experiences, when I was homeless and trying to access housing — and I didn’t have issues until I transitioned, and then those issues came into place.”
Homelessness and housing insecurity disproportionately impact the transgender community with one in five transgender individuals having experienced homelessness at some point in their lives. Kayla has long accepted the challenge to fight for housing justice for transgender women of color. Her efforts include raising over $250,000 to purchase a 30-acre plot of land to build tiny homes for trans women of color in Tennessee, with three homes already built.
Women’s History Month is one that I will continue to create space for remembering the strength, resilience and vulnerability of all women, and the varying and complex experiences they navigate through just to show up in our communities fully.
Jaelynn Scott is a local trailblazer, the first and only Black trans woman sitting as an acting executive director in the state of Washington. Jaelynn, executive director for Lavender Rights Project (LRP)/Black Trans Task Force, has used her unique knowledge and experience, along with that of her team of equally accomplished Black and Brown trans folks, to refocus LRP's work into three specific areas: housing, gender-based violence and poverty law. What we know to be true about equity and centering Black trans women specifically is that when you address the systemic issues experienced by the most marginalized in a community, you by default address the systemic issues of the whole community. Lavender Rights Project/Black Trans Task Force continues to work and collaborate within our community to also help address issues of homelessness and housing insecurity within the Black trans community through a housing project that seeks to build or purchase housing for Black trans women, along with offering comprehensive wrap around services.
Trans women, specifically Sylvia Riviera and Marsha P Johnson, created the blueprint for the ways that we organize and build mutual aid networks, which have been an integral part of supporting communities during the pandemic. They have served as the inspiration for the local grassroots organization Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network (and many others), which takes a trans specific, trauma-informed approach to how the network provides low- and no- barrier resources to trans women of color in our area. These women, often referred to as “trancestors," also created the foundation of revolutionary action and strength for trans and gender diverse organizers and activists to establish access to civil rights.
Women’s History Month is one that I will continue to create space for remembering the strength, resilience and vulnerability of all women, and the varying and complex experiences they navigate through just to show up in our communities fully. It’s also important to recognize that the work of achieving equity for women in our society is not done, and we should all strive to champion the women and girls in our lives. We are in the presence of greatness!
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