Renewing our commitment to trans and gender non conforming organizers across the country, we put our belongings in a bag, boarded several planes and drove several miles to listen. TJFP’s From the Ground to the Sky listening tour first began in June 2015. Since then we’ve been to Michigan; North Carolina; Washington; Florida; Montana; South Dakota; California; Illinois; Oklahoma; New Mexico; Arizona; and Utah interviewing grantees and making visits to areas we’ve never received applications from.
Along our journey we’ve sat in the kitchen of our grantees and on park benches with rural activists who generously put their trust in us with their stories. One interviewee described having had to hitch hike-as a trans woman of color-two hours in each direction to receive adequate health care. And even though she longs to live in the big city, a place with more resources and more going on, she defines home being where her family is and spoke of the importance of “laying a foundation” for trans justice in her rural area. In a neighboring state one group described what its like organize under the constant terror of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and another group explained what kind of impact living in a state with 27 anti-lgbt bills in legislation has had on the young people they work with.
Day in and day out, TJFP staff set up interview cameras and those who allowed us to learn from them quickly felt like family. Family in the sense that no matter where people are located and no matter how different or similar our issues are… we’re all doing this together, whether we realized it or not.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s spoken with us. Every time someone spoke we heard the passion in your voices-vibrations that could be felt from across the room. Your work is so deeply inspiring and gives TJFP purpose every day.
Please stay with us and feel free to check out our YouTube page as we continue our tour, meeting with grantees and organizers to collect even audio and video footage to add to our upcoming digital map resource!