PASS THE EQUALITY ACT

Now is the time for our country to protect equal rights for all, in a way that is just and equitable. Too often “equal rights for all” doesn’t really mean “all.” We demand an Equality Act that centers BLACK transgender people, and ask that the Act’s supporters stand up for additional investments in BLACK transgender people.

CALL TO ACTION

We have learned from this crisis that people can change what they do personally to help the health and welfare of others; people need to heed that lesson in advocating for the lives of BLACK transgender people. We have learned that governments can move quickly when the political will is there; and now is the time for our federal government to find the political will to build a more just and equitable world for all.

As our country comes out of the current health crisis, we are facing a moment of reckoning. We can step back and allow discrimination to continue, or we can step forward and create the world we need to survive and to thrive. Let’s come together, in solidarity together, and make it happen.

We urge you and/or your organization to sign on to this statement. Pass the Equality Act. NOW

FRAMING

Broad civil rights legislation can be an important step in social progress, and there are many things to like about the Equality Act. We know, agree, and believe that everyone deserves legal protection from discrimination. We also know that our community has an inherent interest in the civil protections that this legislation offers. While BLACK transgender people were left out of prior iterations of civil rights law, due to loopholes around gender identity and sexual orientation, the Equality Act would provide us, at the federal level, with the basic legal protections that only exist in 22 states and the District of Columbia. That said, we also know that the Equality Act, as written, does not address the explicit harms and violence that BLACK transgender people face. 

To put it directly: the Equality Act will not stop BLACK trans women from being murdered by those who know them intimately, it will not stop BLACK trans men from having to defend themselves against targeted assault. The Act, as written, will not quiet the noise that essentializes BLACK trans people down to our body organs, and it will not prevent the violence faced by our community. 

We call on leaders across all levels of government, power, and influence to join us in demanding the passage of the Equality Act. Simultaneously, we demand that this legislation’s sponsors and supporters raise their voices for sustainable investment and policy interventions that center BLACK transgender people. 

THE ISSUES

As BLACK transgender people, we have experienced marginalization like no other group in this country. From state-sanctioned oppression, to intra-communal violence, our community has collective trauma that is unique in its scale and scope.

That said, this experience also means that we have studied and done the analytical “work” necessary to have informed, strategic positions about what happens to us now.

For many years, housing has been a direct safety issue for BLACK trans individuals. Housing is widely inaccessible for poor communities, with the homelessness system creating more barriers than it relieves for this community. We also know that housing is integral to the safety of BLACK transgender individuals, with 40% of documented homelessness consisting of BLACK people, and 70% of transgender people experiencing some form of housing instability. We understand having a home to be an inalienable right, and therefore demand prioritized housing for BLACK trans individuals, including subsidies and vouchers to support their immediate safety, as well as comprehensive wrap-around services to support them in maintaining housing.

BLACK transgender people live at the intersections of racial violence and over-policing while experiencing poverty at higher rates than other communities. Over 47% of BLACK transgender people have spent time behind bars, and BLACK transgender women are incarcerated at a rate ten times that of the general American population. We know that police and prisons do not keep us safe. Too often, BLACK transgender people have been uncounted in the masses of officer-involved shootings, but we experience such violence as well, specifically as BLACK people. Boldly, we call for the abolition of all prisons, jails, and detention facilities, along with the immediate release of political prisoners. Directly impacted communities need resources alternative to law enforcement interventions and other punitive measures that jeopardize the safety and wellness of BLACK trans people. 

We understand the reclamation of our wealth by means of reparations and other redistributive justice to be long overdue and refuse to wait to be granted permission. Knowing this we call for a basic income for BLACK trans people, which includes recurring payments to individuals regardless of income from other sources, without the obligations of performance or work of any kind. We can no longer afford to allow our internal measures, nor our basic rights, to be corroded from under us and ask that you stand with us, not only for our temporary protection but until our lives are truly valued.

There has been an immense erasure of trans people from laws and policies around reproductive justice. The families of BLACK trans people suffer greatly due to inaccessible and binary-gendered services for those who seek parenthood. Body alignment, childbearing, and the right to exist are all reproductive justice issues.  We demand genderless comprehensive healthcare options for trans people, and de-gendering of currently available services.  Similar to HUD’s Equal Access bill, policies to accommodate more than binary gender frameworks are necessary for trans families.

As long as we have been documenting the murders of BLACK transgender people, the clearer the trends have become. BLACK transgender people experience a disproportionate amount of the increases in overall gun violence in our communities. Moreover, BLACK transgender youth routinely have their lives stolen due to bullying, while a lack of family support leads to increased suicide attempts. With over 20,000 shooting deaths experienced in America last year, we will never truly know the number of BLACK transgender victims, as many go unreported or are misgendered in death. BLACK transgender people are more than a number, and we demand the direct investments in our well-being that would prevent us from encountering disproportionate violence in the first place.

© Copyright 2019 Marsha P. Johnson Institute. All rights reserved. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute is a fiscally sponsored project of Social Good Fund, a California nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)(3) organization, Tax ID (EIN) 46-1323531.

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