On Trans Day of Visibility, we at TJFP are reflecting on a piece written in 2015 by our former grantmaking meeting facilitator, Nico Amador, and the wisdom of the title–“Visibility Does Not Equal Justice.” (This article, and more, are available on our website at transjusticefundingproject.org/resources!)
To be visible means that one is both a beacon and a target. A lighthouse indicating both the safety of shore and the danger of sharp rocks and crashing waves. As trans people, we know the power of visibility–being open and real about our truth, our complexities, our potential, our humanity. Visibility means we can find each other in a world that wants us to believe we are unworthy. It means we can connect to other trans folks working to provide care and support in this landscape of trans justice. It means that we can form communities that keep us alive. Yet we also know what can happen when people see us but misrecognize us through a lens of ignorance. As Nico puts it, “at the heart of the matter is the fact that curiosity and visibility in the mainstream does not equal justice. We still have a long road to walk before all members of our community are free from the violence caused by bigotry, racism, and lack of access to employment, housing, and health care.”
This year, we received 213 applications from activists across the country, and as always the work truly demonstrates the breadth and diversity of our community, what we care about, and what we can do to help our people. We see trans-led groups focusing on meeting food, housing, and healthcare needs in their neighborhoods, organizations working on environmental justice or in areas hit by climate disasters, collectives supporting trans folks emerging from detention or incarceration. Some applications came from groups that have been doing work for years, and others who have just begun organizing, including groups that emerged in response to COVID and the particular challenges of the last year alone. Take a look at our list of 2020 grantees for more powerful examples of what trans leadership can accomplish and all of the ways trans people show up for each other!
The breadth of trans justice encompasses so many forms of justice, and yet the legislative scapegoat of choice at the moment is trans children and teens. Anti-trans bills have been introduced, and in some cases passed, in states across the nation, a shameful gallery that includes measures to deny trans students the ability to participate in organized sports, to label transition care for minors as child abuse, and even prohibit trans care until age 21 in some areas. Legislation that strips away the rights of trans youth means that even before we become trans adults, our trans childhoods are up for debate. This transphobic agenda is meant to make our futures look dimmer, but our lights shine bright, and brightest of all when we make our love and care known to each other.
Visibility is crucial to our work, but it is not the only thing that trans justice fights for. As Nico puts it, “it is critical that our movement is defined by people who will push for changes that dig deeper than cultural acceptance…we need leadership that includes a large and meaningful representation of people from all parts of the gender spectrum, people of color, indigenous people, poor and working class people, people with disabilities, youth, immigrants, and those who live outside of the country’s queer urban centers.”
As our communities continue to fight for justice, let’s make sure the legacy of what trans communities have struggled for and accomplished remains visible in our movement. The work of trans elders “who fought the early battles for trans inclusion and gender liberation…is what built the foundation for many of the gains we’ve experienced,” writes Nico. Our future is now, built by amazing trans justice leaders like our grantees past and present, and all of the incredible activists and changemakers that are part of the TJFP family and community!
We at TJFP send a deep and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has devoted their life to trans justice. We see you, we love you, and we will continue to fight for you.
The TJFP Staff