I founded the Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) in direct response to the nationwide—and vastly underreported—epidemic of murders of BLACK trans women. The violent and preventable nature of these deaths directly connects to the exclusion of BLACK trans people from social justice issues; namely racial, gender, and reproductive justice, as well as gun violence reform.
As a BLACK trans woman who grew up in midwestern America, I have lived through many of the key issues MPJI is working to eradicate: employment discrimination, physical violence, incarceration, survival sex work, homelessness. These were my realities, and I know they are shared by many; I founded this organization to center these needs and lived experiences.
Prior to launching MPJI, I had worked to broaden the scope of the organizing networks I was a part of: I led campaigns such as Raise The Debate and the #SayHerName National Day of Action for the Black Lives Matter Network and I organized the first-ever National Day of Action for BLACK Trans Women in 2015. But after years of work on the ground, I left these networks that I helped to build in order to create a space that imagines a world that centers the most marginalized, with a specific focus on BLACK trans women.
MPJI was established to protect and defend the human rights of BLACK transgender people. Our communities experience disproportionate rates of systemic violence and economic discrimination and BLACK trans women are among the most vulnerable populations in our country. MPJI seeks to eradicate the systemic, community, and physical violence that silences our community from actualizing freedom, joy, and safety.
Our work involves advocating, organizing, offering fellowship opportunities, creating coalitions, establishing a trans-centered membership platform, and executing digital and on-the-ground campaigns. It is my dream to use MPJI to create national resources for the BLACK trans community and to start a new conversation—to enact a true culture change—so that we may all be free.