Gender Justice League has explicitly made racial justice one of our priority values since our founding in 2013, but there have been many times we failed to live that as strongly as we could or should have. Racism and anti-Blackness has existed within our organization for a long time, both in the past and present. While we acknowledge the strong leadership and lasting contributions of BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of color) within our organization, our board and staff have largely remained white. As a result, our work, no matter how well-intentioned, is shaped by and complicit in white supremacy. Racism has influenced everything we do, including our staff, programs, and activities. For example, we have engaged in standard hiring practices that disadvantage BIPOC, and the experiences of BIPOC in our programming have been repeatedly considered only after programming was created. At times, these situations were appropriately addressed, but other times, they weren’t. We could and should have done more.
In the Fall of 2020, we formally committed ourselves to identifying problems and changes related to anti-racism and anti-Blackness that we can put into place. Since then, Gender Justice League staff has met weekly to discuss racial justice within and outside our organization, and created a detailed work plan to address internal white supremacy moving forward. As of the date of this statement, we are now committed to making this work public.
We believe that centering the lives of trans and gender diverse BIPOC is the only way to achieve our collective liberation. At the core of this belief lies our commitments to racial and economic justice, intersectionality, accessibility, inclusion, and sex positivity. For us, this work is about reducing state harm and violence, increasing sustainable employment, and engaging in advocacy and education work with service providers to create safer, affirming, and affordable care for all trans and gender diverse people. Achieving these goals is not possible without an explicit anti-racism lens that closely examines and resists anti-Blackness and uplifts Indigenous sovereignty.
No Pride for Some of Us Without Liberation for All of Us
We recognize that in order to move the trans community towards liberation, we must address the violence and oppression that targets trans BIPOC, and especially Black trans women and femmes. If we can solve these injustices for trans BIPOC, it will solve things for us all. Because our work must dream of a world where all trans people have what we need to survive and thrive, we need to explicitly center the dismantling of anti-Blackness in all of our work. Gender Justice League affirms that Black trans and gender diverse Lives Matter. We call for the abolition of police, prisons, and other structures that uphold racism and colonial systems of power. GJL is committed to leveraging our power and resources to topple the structures that uphold white supremacy and lead to grave disparities and death for our BIPOC community members.
The Numbers Are In
Every issue and experience with transphobia is dramatically exacerbated by the additional intersections of racism and anti-Blackness. These experiences are compounded further for those with additional intersections, including queer and disabled people, women, immigrants, and sex workers, among others.
The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey highlights these disparities. Black trans and gender diverse respondents reported experiencing homelessness, poverty, violence, and mental health distress at significantly higher rates than white trans people and cisgender Black communities nationwide. They also experience significantly higher rates of police harassment, violence, arrest, and incarceration among Black respondents, with Black trans women being four times more likely to be incarcerated than trans people generally. Since the COVID pandemic, it has only gotten worse for our beloved communities.
We acknowledge that the deprioritization of secure and affordable housing, policing and the prison industrial complex, medical racism and healthcare access issues, and increasing gentrification and generational wealth disparities, among other issues, contribute to the systemic violence that trans and gender diverse BIPOC communities face, significantly contributing to the death toll of our community. Systemic and structural racism and oppression exist alongside interpersonal violence, and both severely impact BIPOC, especially women. In 2020, 44 trans people were murdered in the US, an all time high, the majority of whom were Black and brown trans women. GJL mourns these valuable lives lost, and celebrates the trans and gender diverse communities across WA State that tenaciously survive, and fight for our collective liberation from these structures that seek to destroy us.
Prioritizing anti-racism and resisting anti-Blackness requires thoughtfulness, intention, resources, transparency, and accountability: this is why we have set in motion an expansive anti-racism action plan to infuse and prioritize anti-racism throughout our organization and all of our programming; and we have engaged with a racial justice consultant as part of this work. We commit to:
- Partnering with and supporting POC-led and serving, and especially BIPOC-led and serving organizations
- Following the lead of trans POC-led and serving, and especially trans BIPOC-led and serving organizations, leveraging our power through partnerships to direct funding to these organizations
- Executing initiatives, programs, and services that specifically prioritize trans BIPOC, allotting at least 50% of financial assistance dollars and resources for trans BIPOC
- Finding ways to compensate trans BIPOC who are doing labor that would usually be unpaid
- Creating an organizational culture that acknowledges and resists a culture of white supremacy, and supports BIPOC and POC staff, interns, and volunteers so that we can bring our full selves to the work
Because we recognize that we do not have all the answers, Gender Justice League remains open and responsive to community feedback and to this continuous learning process, alongside our communities. This is the work which will get us to a world where all people can live safely, true to themselves, and free from discrimination.
Grateful to be in community with you,
Gender Justice League