Trans women of color have always been criminalized for who we are and for what we are about. Yet, since the Stonewall rebellion in 1969 and even today, the so-called Gay Liberation Movement still does not give a rat’s ass about the Trans movement, and fails to address the violence that we Trans women experience day by day as soon as we walk out of our homes, if we even have one.
It has always been easier for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to remain comfortably in the closet (or when they’re ready, be publicly gay, lesbian, or bi) without their friends, family, or the police noticing who they truly are. For us Trans people it is very different: we cannot hide who we are—we live our lives exactly as who we are destined to be.
For this, for daring to live lives of honesty and courage, Trans people have historically been marginalized, our existence considered erroneous or disgraceful to society at large. It was for this reason that Trans women decided on that night in New York in 1969 that it was enough—enough that the police would arrest them simply for being who they were.
How easy it is to forget that it was we, brave Trans people, who were the ones who said enough is enough! Who threw the first brick, bottle and stone! It was we who gave you the hope that it was possible to be you without limitations—we who were, and still are, the living flesh of what is possible when we decide to be who we are. It was we who had to stand on a corner to sell our bodies to feed you, to shelter you, to comfort you and to ease the pain. It was we who were always arrested and criminalized because we were true to ourselves. It was we who you called mother because the mother that gave you birth threw you out. It was we who were visible for you to celebrate the pride of being you.
But there are some parts of the liberation movement—the white and monied interests—who brought with them racist, transphobic thinking and excluded Trans people from the movement. They said that Trans people were an embarrassment to the “Gay Liberation Movement.” For 50 years, they’ve pushed and shoved us to the side.
In 2019, you can claim your 50 years of liberation. You can claim your liberation that has been gained by practicing oppression against your Trans allies; many of us would even say, you enjoy the liberation that you gained on the backs of Trans people. Fifty years of liberation? I would actually call it 50 years of shade! The shade that has gained you your so-called power, the power you often use to make sure that we, the Trans community, continue to be at the bottom.
I have seen and experienced your shade. When you see me at the club. When you see me at the store. When you whisper to your friends that I am a crazy freak when you see me at the corner street as I try to make a living. You made sure that I kept standing at the corner because you yelled at me in 1969 that the “Gay Liberation Movement” was not for me—even though it was I who taught you how to be brave and be you, despite what others would say about you.
Have you asked yourselves, where is the liberation of Trans people of color? Fifty years later, the Trans community continues to be murdered, and in your beloved country where the movement started, on average two or three of us die every month.
So, as you parade and show your pride about how grateful you are for same-sex marriage and all that you have accomplished, remember: There would be no Pride, there would be no “Liberation” without the labor, the struggles, and the might of the “T.”