Remembering Us When We’re Gone, Ignoring Us While We’re Here: Trans Women Deserve More

Feature image via transascity.org


There’s an interesting phenomenon that I’ve witnessed over the past few years. The names of trans women of color will be in the mouths of the queer community after they’ve been murdered, but support for us while we are still alive is sporadic at best. Trans women are pushed out of queer spaces by cis people, dfab genderqueers, and trans men, just to name a few. Women’s spaces are frequently hostile to us because we aren’t “real women” but trans men almost always get a free pass. And I’ve seen more than one cis queer say that trans women are “appropriating” the gay rights movement, totally ignorant of the fact that we started the damn thing. I have seen more than one cis queer say that we have nothing in common with them, that our issues are completely unrelated. We have a hard time finding dates, finding support, finding community. And when we dare to call people out for their transmisogyny, we are labeled crazy, hysterical, divisive. I have been called Austin “queer scene’s” number one enemy. All for daring to share my thoughts on the world around me.

Trans Day of Remembrance is filled to the brim with the names of murdered Black and brown trans women, but is a single evening of remembering enough? And what does it mean that TDoR doesn’t explicitly talk about race and is often dominated by white people? Here in Austin there’s this tradition of calling the names of the dead and then having an audience member sit in a chair that represents where the dead trans woman would sit. The seats are always filled with white people and non-trans women. What do our deaths mean when our bodies, our lives, the physical space we take up, is appropriated by white folks? How can I mourn for my sisters when the space set up for that mourning is so thoroughly colonized? And how can I even see hope of living a full life when I don’t see myself reflected in what is supposed to be my community?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to honor those women who came before us, those women murdered by colonial patriarchy. But it seems like more often than not, the queer community at large is content with just remembering. We only hear about trans women after their deaths. And even our deaths are not our own. A week doesn’t go by without a white queer citing the deaths of trans women of color as the evidence of how oppressed they are. These stats are often used in service of their own assimilation; meanwhile, they’re happy to leave us out in the cold. We don’t even have dignity in death, nor the ability to decide what it will mean for us.

Support for trans women dwindles when we are still alive. Nowhere is this clearer than in fundraisers run by and for trans women. There have been some success stories, but they always seem to be few and far between. More often than not, a trans woman’s fundraiser will get a few signal boosts, maybe a couple of dollars and then languish. Meanwhile, trans men’s fundraisers for transition related care often get fully funded. This funding disparity is also clear institutionally, where organizations that focus on the concerns and issues of trans women of color get a miniscule amount of all the money from LGBTQ foundations. This is especially true in the South, where LGBT organizations only get 3-4% of domestic LGBT funding. Again, cis, white, rich institutions are quick to use our murders in their statistics then turn around and spend their money on organizations that look like them: cis, white, and rich. Organizations that push for assimilation.

Obviously financial support isn’t the be all end all action to support trans women of color, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. And the fact that it’s a struggle for trans women to acquire financial assistance is symptomatic of our society’s priorities. It points to who is valuable and who is disposable. At the bottom of this article is a list of fundraisers and organizations for trans women that I would strongly encourage you to support. If you’re not a trans woman and you’re reading this, think long and hard about the ways that you’re supporting trans women in your community. Do you see trans women in public community spaces? How are your actions pushing them out? Don’t think that just giving money nullifies your collusion in transmisogyny. Financial support is important but it is not the only step. As we honor the memory of those girls who have been murdered, ask how you’re helping the living.


Fundraisers to Cover Living Expenses

Backing Biko
Support Cherno Biko in advocating for folks like us!

Love Aaryn
Help Aaryn reach her dreams!

Support CeCe
Support CeCe’s work!

Lift Up Lourdes
Support a trans leader!

Save Fake Cis Girl from Financial Apocalypse
Help a trans woman of color keep her lights on!

Support Monica Roberts
Help Monica stave off homelessness!

Operation Zipzap
Help a trans woman go to electrolysis school!

Support Michelle
Help Michelle get money to go to school!

Miss Major Monthly Giving Circle
Help support a TWOC elder and living legend!


Fundraisers to Cover Transition Related Care

TRANLATIN@ needs HELP for Surgery
Help a Pervuian trans women get access to gender affirming surgery!

Support Vanessa on her medical need
Help Vanessa get chest reconstruction surgery!

Proud Trans Latina seeking help with GRS
Help Naiymah get access to gender affirming surgery!

Sophia’s Breast Fund
Help Sophia access breast augmentation surgery!

Help a Homegirl out!
Help a trans latina get access to transition related care.

Ida’s Surgery Fund
Help writer and activist Ida access surgery!


Fundraisers for Organizations that Serve Trans Women

Support the TWOC Collective
The TWOC Collective in NYC needs your support!

Alexis Documentary
Help a documentary about a trans woman activist get off the ground!

MagniFLY!
Donate to support TWOC filmmakers!

Trans Tech
Support an organization giving trans women the tools to support themselves!

Quirell
Help a social network by and for marginalized folks get started!

El/La Para Trans Latinas
Help fund an organization working to advocate for trans latinas!

Trans Latina Coalition
Support an organization doing national movement work!

Support Casa Ruby
Help a community center stay afloat!

If you are aware of any other similar fundraisers, please share them in the comments.


November 14th-20th is Trans Awareness Week, leading up to Trans Day of Remembrance on the 20th. This is a week where we raise visibility for trans people and address issues that affect the trans community. For Trans Awareness Week this year, we’ve asked several of our favorite TWoC writers to come in and share their thoughts and experiences with us. TWoC started the entire LGBTQ movement in the U.S. And they continue to be the victims of most of the anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination. If we aren’t centering things on them, we are failing.


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Morgan is a working class femme trans woman of color of Colombian and Puerto Rican descent. She works in Austin as a poet, performance artist, community organizer and family builder, focusing on the uses of poetry, performance and brunch to create better spaces for marginalized people. She has been organizing for 8 years in various areas including environmental justice, racial justice, anti-violence and trans justice. Her work as an artist and performer is heavily influenced by her own political experience and the experience of her community. She believes the revolution is not some distant day in the future but is right now by living, loving and thriving.

Morgan has written 3 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. Thumb up 12

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    Thank you for writing this, and for including links to places where I can actually show my support directly to trans women. I feel like that’s often a missing puzzle piece for me — I’m ready to help, I think it’s bullshit that I and other cis women aren’t doing more, but I don’t know where to start, because (as you stated above) most of the loudest voices out there soliciting help aren’t those of trans women, but of privileged others. I’ll be sharing this list around in the hopes of helping amplify the right voices.

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    Thank you for this. Every TDOR commemoration I’ve ever been to has been mostly trans men and other AFAB queer people. Mostly white. But that’s true of most public trans-related events, unfortunately. Which always made me feel uncomfortable as even a white trans woman, and implicitly excluded, and less likely to go in the future. So I stopped going. So it’s a vicious cycle.

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    Before you pull your credit card out, do a little research on the organization(s) you would like to donate your hard-earned dollars to. Are they really helping and meeting the needs of trans women of color? Or, is it just a number of white, queer, college students and graduates who are working and living off of our funds to pay for their college education and their living expenses. I recently learned that a true, non-profit organization is one that is certified non-profit. That the rest of them are in the non-profit sector to make a profit for themselves. And that they have a hierarchy structure where decisions are made by the top brass and not by the organization as a whole. That they work just like a business; all they care about is the money but, not its customers.

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    (tw for mentions of physical and sexual abuse) thank you so much for writing this. it’s so overwhelmingly depressing to have your value and your femaleness constantly dictated by others. if it’s not cis het men, it’s cis gay men, or cis het women, cis queer women, afab trans people, or white trans women who get to decide what the violence toward and marginalization of twoc means–and they LOVE to opine about it whenever our mere existence is mentioned.

    i’m a coptic trans girl and therefore don’t belong to any of the groups of trans women of color most at risk for death by violence, but i can speak to the experience of having to spend most of my life doing survival sex work because patriarchy expects far more rigid gender conformity from families of color, resulting in girls like me being kicked out of our homes as minors once we are outed to our families and communities at hugely disproportionate rates (which is not to say that this doesn’t happen to white trans girls, just not nearly as often). and then we get to see that turned around on us by white trans women and non-trans-women feminists all the time as examples of “invalid” females who are perverted and either taint all trans women as “fetishists” or should be considered “not real” trans women so the rest of the herd (i.e. white women) can insulate themselves from the same accusations they level at us. in especially perverse examples, twoc’s disproportionate participation in survival sex work and the general social attitude that we’re disposable and unrapeable is used by white trans women and non-trans-women of all races alike to blame us for physical and sexual violence that befalls us. in lesser cases, cis feminists will make it an occasion to condescend to us and backhandedly invalidate us in the same breath: “welcome to being a woman,” which would be considered a disgusting thing to tell a cis female survivor and is an acutely inappropriate thing to say to a girl like me who has been working as an escort since i was 14 and has been the target of dozens of cis men’s ideas about what kind of torture, beatings, public humiliations, sexual assaults, robberies, and in-person threats to murder me are acceptable for them to do to women like us.

    meanwhile, nobody takes the time to listen to what we have to say about our own existences and needs as one of the most vulnerable subcategories of queer folks, women, and trans folks. non-trans-women don’t listen because only non-trans women’s ideas about what constitute femaleness are considered valid, and i think subconsciously most of these folks would prefer never to have to deal with us, much less acknowledge our womanhood. white trans women don’t listen because many of us are thought of as the “whores” and the “traps” who jeopardize their assimilation by association.

    P.S. i super appreciate that you went above and beyond and included links to so many twoc-focused funding initiatives!

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    And there is also an option to invest in the future and general improvement and let girls have rolemodels and keep their sanities. Might start with Aerannis. Action video game, about an assassin and conspiracies. The dev team, Ektomarch, supposedly do have actual trans woman’s input*. And there is not much in the way of powerful, inspirational stuff full stop…i had to think of something for the trans women in my life, both for my lovely gf, and a young lady friend & gaming companion – and i will admit i miserably failed. All trans women characters – one of the three: magic, tragic or not portrayed as people. This game at least promises an action heroine.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ektomarch/aerannis

    *yes i know it’s likely one or two women – but US has never had a secret elite visionary council like UK did in the 90s and i would think one or two women fans of the genre with sound reason and common sense is the second best option in advisory capacity – with considerably greater positive potential than tumblr politico consensus, and not much more negative potential – because imo trans women would be best served by a thought-stimulating, universally meaningful masterpiece, a Blade Runner – not the lowest common denominator material like crude agitprop or a desperate statement of accusation. This game, while unlikely to be the Short Circuit or Blade Runner, is a step in the right direction.

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