Each year, for the last five years, the number of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. who were murdered has increased, according to findings by the Human Rights Campaign. In 2019, the vast majority of those killed were Black trans women. As these women continue be barred from housing and job opportunities, many wind up homeless and resort to survival sex work to obtain food, shelter, and other basic necessities. As we continue the fight against racial discrimination and violence, especially during Pride Month, we must keep this persistently underserved group in full view. In addition to educating yourself and your communities to understand their systemic oppression, donating to Black trans women organizations is also a veritable step in helping them to survive and thrive.
In December 2019, Jesse Pratt López, a fellow trans Latinx woman, organized a GoFundMe after meeting ReVon, a Black trans women in Atlanta, who told her all about the steep injustices that Black trans sex workers face. "Survival sex work has been historically the only profession that many trans women have been able to succeed in. Many [women], especially when they don’t pass for society’s ideal archetype of what a woman should be, a denied jobs, housing, and opportunities," writes López in the fund's bio. In the world of survival sex work, the threat of violence and rape looms constantly — López specifically mentions instances of Black trans women having their throats cut after clients have sex with them in alleys. In the throes of a pandemic and a race war, curfews and stay-home orders instituted by local governance have failed to protect homeless Black trans women — so donations to their GoFundMe are appreciated now, more than ever.
Additionally, nearly one in two Black trans people have been to prison, according to Lambda Legal. While in prison systems, Black trans women have been systemically discriminated against more than white, cisgender inmates, enduring heightened physical and psychological abuse and, many times, murder while incarcerated. The TGIJP (Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project) is dedicated to providing transgender, gender variant, and intersex people — both in and out of prison — with a sense of community amidst the struggle for survival. The project started in 2004 with the initial intent to provide legal services for those in California prisons, jails and detention centers — and has since expanded to represent, protect and unite those in California and beyond. Donations help keep its mission alive.
The Transgender Law Center is another great resource. Its site details a clear agenda for Black trans liberation, including several solution-oriented action items. For more equal access to housing, they've demanded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to ensure all HUD-funded housing is accessible to and affirming of Black trans women and Black trans femmes. There's also plans for uplifting these women across industries and enabling their excellence, including demands for companies to prioritize Black trans women and Black trans femmes as leaders through skills-building opportunities and the reallocation of resources to create new leadership opportunities.
To join and continue the fight, explore the resources at the Transgender Law Center, the TGIJP, consider donating to the two, as well as the Homeless Black Trans Women fund, and be sure to share this story with friends and loved ones.