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Amplifying Trans Lives in the #BLM Movement

Amplifying Trans Lives in the #BLM Movement

There is no truly powerful Black Lives Matter movement without the inclusion of trans people.

All too often when we discuss liberation of black people, black heterosexual men are the faces of the movement. We carry their pain, and we fight for their freedom–all while realizing the stories of the black LGBTQ community will never be prioritized. Recently as tensions rose during the Black Lives Matter movement, a number of black trans people we assaulted and murdered at the hands of police or their very own community. Yet these stories went unamplified.

Iyanna Dior, a black trans woman was brutally attacked by black men in Minneapolis, the city at the center of the recent protests over George Floyd’s death. A video of the attack circulated on social media, showing a group of at least a dozen black men striking Iyanna after a “fender bender” gone wrong. Iyanna addressed Facebook to speak on her terrifying experience, displaying her many injuries.

“The whole side of my face is swollen. It hurts so bad… On my forehead, if you run your hands across it, these are knots. That’s a whole patch of scratches. My fucking arm is just swollen, it hurts so bad. I need to go to the hospital… My lips are cut on the inside. A lot of shit happened.”

While she miraculously survived her assault, two other trans women Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells and Riah Milton were reported murdered just last week. 27-year-old Rem’mie Fells of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was discovered on June 8th, her head and face severely beaten and her legs severed. A GoFundMe started by her sister surpassed $120,000 to cover costs of Rem’mie’s funeral.

25-year-old Riah Milton was reported murdered in Ohio, after being lured to a park by three suspects. She died of gunshot wounds after the suspects attempted to steal her car. Two of the three suspects are in custody, while a warrant has been issued in the arrest of the third.

Her sister took to Twitter to address how news outlets were misgendering her in coverage of her death

A black trans man Tony McDade lost his life due to police brutality in Tallahassee, Florida, yet his story was also lost as protests gained intensity. Tallahassee police say McDade was a suspect in a fatal stabbing occurring shortly before his death. Police say he was armed with a handgun and “made a move consistent with using the firearm against the officer.”

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Gina Duncan, director of Transgender Equality for Equality Florida remarks on Tony’s death:

“Tony was a queer Black American who was gunned down by law enforcement. Nothing can erase that. Talking about Tony’s earlier brushes with the law should not diminish the humanity of this being a person who is now dead and certainly shouldn’t diminish the fact that society failed Tony.”

Why don’t we know more about these stories?

Well, we all know why. The toxicity of homophobia and transphobia have always plagued the black community, even though black queer and trans people heavily lend themselves to the activism that benefit us all. How can we chant “black lives matter” without paying attention to these stories? How can we ignore that while we protest, we’re also embodying and displaying hate amongst ourselves too?

If we are serious about dismantling racism and creating a world that is tolerant and just towards all black people, we also have some work to do in our own communities. Black cis-het men can no longer be the only faces we rally behind in outrage, we have to stand for us all.

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