As a young black trans person, I live afraid that I and those I love will have to live and die with fear, discrimination, and violence. Sometimes I find it difficult to find peace for those we loved and ourselves in a world where we see beautiful progress along with continued vicious attacks. Today, October 10th, marks the birthday of Islan Nettles, a powerful young black trans woman who was brutally beaten to death in Harlem in August 2013. I cannot help but ask myself, and y’all, how will Islan continue to inspire and impact us and the work we do?
Just this week our sister in Philadelphia was killed – 22-year-old Keisha Jenkins, rest in power. SRLP sends our love to folks in Philly, NYC, across the country, and the world as we continue to celebrate and mourn those we love. It feels difficult to find answers to injustice when they continue killing us, and yet everyday I am humbled and inspired by the people I meet at SRLP and know in our communities who advocate for themselves, vision another way, and look out for each other. The continuing violence against trans people, specifically black trans women at the crucial intersections of race, gender, and class is a national public health issue – and it needs to be addressed as such along with other systemic issues. Despite policies in place to protect us, anti-trans violence continues while the state maintains cycles of incarceration and poverty furthering vulnerability and impacting our communities’ mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and financial health.
This Sunday is the one-year anniversary of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman who was murdered by a US Marine in the Philippines. It’s crucial we continue to name violence, remember those we love, and strategize around ways to keep our communities safe. Policing, militarization, and incarceration lead to increased profiling and targeting of our low-income, LGBT, and immigrant communities of color, which is why SRLP staff and members work to shift policies and procedures, demand action, and hold institutions and the law accountable to the state violence we experience.
Next month, on November 20th, is the Trans Day of Remembrance. Though rage, grief, and a lack of acknowledgement are with us everyday, it is our work in action, advocacy, healing, love, and justice that hold us through. Join SRLP on Tuesday evenings at membership meetings to learn more about how to get involved in upcoming events, support the implementation of life saving policies, and organize to support the trans led call to end to harassment, discrimination, and violence.
I imagine that somewhere Islan is building with Kiesha, Amber, and Jennifer. That Juan Evans is there, with Sylvia and Marsha and all of them are planning together, just as we are down here, how to see love and justice prevail.