We live in a world where it is socially and politically acceptable to lead our lives as we please without judgement, until it comes down to how we choose to portray ourselves, our romantic relationships and beliefs to the world. It is in the most intimate spaces of our lives where we are told what we are and are not allowed to do by the government and society. For many years since colonization, the world has dealt with overcoming types of oppression. In this 21st century, inequality of race and gender are stirring some of the most significant controversy, leading to murder, suicide, and exploitation in North America. While violence against blacks is a prevalent conflict in society due to white supremacy, trans womenof colour are being oppressed by other black people, demonstrating a tendency of heterosexism and transmisogyny within black communities.
Studying the oppression of trans women of colour requires an intersectional approach because black trans women are subject to racism, and discrimination for belonging to LGBTQIA+ and for identifying as women. White supremacy and corporate capitalism have inflicted racism upon the world, creating an ongoing struggle of [overcoming] the idea that white people are superior to black people — an idea which is in no way true trans women of colour are discriminated for belonging to the LGBTQIA+ for being regarded as “different” and not fitting the gender binary model. There is nothing “different” about what gender one chooses to identify as or their sexual preference. It is the people who are under the impression that they have the authority to judge others as being “different”. Trans women of colour are looked down upon for identifying and being female, as females are subject in gender inequality for being viewed as “lesser” compared to males. A recent statistic shows that “transwomen of colour are the most targeted victims of violence in the LGBTQIA+ community. Trans women make up 72% of anti-LGBTQIA+ homocide victims, and 89% of these victims were people of colour” (Cox). Trans women of colour are viewed as an inferior minority to others in the world as supported by the percentage of abuse and violence they have suffered. Black trans women deal with intersections of race, poverty, oppressive racism, gender identity and are victims of transmisogyny and transphobia.
The behaviour towards trans women of colour is an example of heterosexism within black communities because of the fact that discrimination of cisgender blacks is portrayed in the mass media as a wrongdoing of white supremacy but cisgendered blacks are also responsible for the discrimination of black trans women, which goes unnoticed. Recent cases of anti-black violence include the murders of Trayvon Martin and the Ferguson trial of Michael Brown. White supremacy was the cause of both these young men losing their lives, which caused riots across North America and liberated black communities to stand up against the supremacy. What wasn’t as publicized though were the cases of Islan Nettles and Amanda Milan, two young women who suffered street harassment and lost their lives by being beat to death by other members of the black community (Cox). The anti-black violence experienced by the cisgendered males is the same anti-trans violence they are deflecting upon trans women of colour. In honour of protesting against the anti-black violence crimes, a social media hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” was used and started a campaign to bring awareness to the sensitivity of the crime. With that being said, how far does the #BlackLivesMatter campaign extend? It seems as though the same people protesting against anti-blackness think black lives matter only if the lives are of those who are cisgender. Reports of trans women of colour who have lost their lives are often misgendered and misnamed in mass media, which is a disrespect and disgrace to them, compared to nationally-known cases such as Trayvon Martin. This kind of behaviour shows transmisogyny and transphobia towards trans women of colour.
Feminism and gender equality need to be more emphasized in black communities in order for love and justice to be received and reciprocated by all. In a recent interview, television icon, Laverne Cox, shares her experiences as a trans woman of colour. She shared how once, two black men got into an argument over whether she was a “B – word”or an “N – word,”and another time, being catcalled by a man until the man realized she was transgender and deemed her “unattractive”. Cox was subject to racism and discrimination for identifying as trans and was considered attractive until the offender noticed she was trans, he found her gender identity was what was repulsing, showing transphobia towards her. Cox made a strong statement in the interview saying, “all black people have to realize that transphobia can’t co-exist with the fight against anti-blackness” (Cox). Cox’s point justifies this argument that if anti-blackness exists, blacks cannot be transphobic otherwise they’re fighting against the discrimination they are treating others with, thus being hypocritical. It is clear that in order to put an end to anti-trans violence and oppression against trans women of colour, the black community must “create spaces to express gender” so that individuals will not fear or endure being attack walking down the street (Cox). Cox concluded her interview with the quote, “Cornell West reminds us that justice is what love looks like in public.” One’s feelings of love towards another must not depend on that person’s race, gender identity, or sexual preference, love must be unconditional. In order to achieve justice for anti-blackness against white supremacy, society must first put an end to violence towards trans women of colour.
Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And What to Do About It).” Everyday Feminism. Everyday Feminism, 7 Dec. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/laverne-cox-intersection-what-to-do/>.