Throughout the semester, we’ve discussed the difficulties faced by trans (and gender nonconforming, non-trans-identified) people, often at length the intersections of race, poverty, sex worker status, and so on that can and often do result from a person’s trans/ gender nonconforming identity. What has been touched on but not named nor specifically discussed in detail is transmisogyny (especially in racialized forms) and how the intersections faced by trans women of color make for some incredibly difficult circumstances.
The International TWoC Network Gathering aims to do what it can to allow trans women and nonbinary transfeminine people of color to get together at the Allied Media Conference (which describes itself on the linked Mission Statement page as a “network of networks”) in order to do just that: network. As their mission statement says:
We seek to build networks and connections amongst trans women of colour by getting together and strategizing how to do so. The goal is twofold: immediate/personal connections between attendees and working to create long term, sustainable networks that are inclusive and that grow.
On their About page, they elaborate:
Trans Women of Colour exist at an intersection of oppression that has resulted in our high levels of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, death (Black and/or Latina trans women make the majority of names on the global Trans Day of Remembrance list), among other serious problems too numerous to name.
While we have intentionally chosen to use ‘Trans Women of Colour’ this Network Gathering is inclusive of non-binary trans feminine people of colour as well, which includes, but isn’t limited to, people of colour who identify as bakla, hijra, fa’fafine, third gender, genderqueer, provided that they/we understand that this gathering will focus on and centre the most vulnerable in our community — Black, Indigenous, and/or Latina trans women, binary or not, sex workers, incarcerated people, disabled people, immigrants.
Starting in February and ending just last month, the International TWoC Network Gathering was holding an Indiegogo fundraiser and met their goal, raising enough to bring about 10 people to the gathering in Detroit, though people are still encouraged to donate. While there is a loose itinerary posted on their website, the coordinators have made it very clear that they want this to be a collaborative effort, with attendees being asked to fill out a form asking what they would like to do for the day and what accommodations they may need in order to make the event as accessible as possible.
At the very beginning of Monday’s reading, Spade tells us about one of their first clients: Bianca, a trans woman from the Bronx. While it isn’t explicitly stated that she is a woman of color in the text, one can only imagine that if she is, the further complications to her already difficult life that she must experience from being a person of color and not necessarily always ‘passing’ due to the instability of her access to hormones. The treatment that Christina Madrazo experienced at the hands of Immigration Detention officers that we read about in February was a direct result of the intersections of her gender, race, and citizenship status. Adela’s experiences with coming out as a trans woman and being rejected by her friends as was detailed in Sexile is a culmination of the same things, as well as some of her experiences with sex work.
Not directly related to any of the readings, but the video we watched of Katie Couric’s interview with Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox is another shining example of transmisogyny, and how people feel entitled to an incredibly intimate understanding of trans women’s bodies and genitalia especially. And the horrible treatment Janet Mock experienced at the hands of Piers Morgan, replete with misgendering and continued harassment after being called out for his bigotry shows how little TWoC (especially black trans women) are valued in the scope of white male privilege in our white supremacist society. These examples, in addition to an overabundance of transmisogyny that we overlook in our everyday lives, are more reason why I am glad that we have focused a lot on DMAB trans/ gender nonconforming people (of color) in this class and would like there to be more. Trans Women of Color gave us the Stonewall riot and have been promptly written out of that history to give it to cis white gay men; we need to do what we can to help them take that history back.
[[Fun fact: One of the coordinators, Lexi Adsit, is actually an SFSU Grad, as well! From the WGS department, no less!]]
[[ Also, unrelated, but please vote for Laverne Cox on the Time 100 poll! A black trans woman being on there (and even being #1 for a bit!!!) is so important! ]]