Guest Blogger

Black Trans People Address Creating Change Conference

Filed By Guest Blogger | February 07, 2015 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: black lives matter, Creating Change, Denver, disruption, Ferguson, National LGBTQ Task Force, protest, Task Force, trans activists, trans lives matter, transgender activism

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Jenny Blair is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Trained as an emergency physician, she practiced in several states before switching to full-time writing. Her work has appeared in The Washington Spectator, The Austin Monitor, Discover, New Scientist, and Seven Days Vermont; she twice won the National Headliner Award for her column with The Hartford (Conn.) Courant.

ferguson-black-trans-cc15.pngSounding a defiant note, Ferguson activists took over the agenda Friday during a plenary session at Creating Change, the National LGBTQ Task Force's annual conference. Their message: center black voices. Check your privilege. Recognize that killings of black and trans people constitute an emergency and an outrage -- and do something about it.

It was the second such action in two days to call out the LGBT movement.

Indignant at not being invited to speak at the conference's opening plenary Thursday, titled "Ferguson on Our Minds," the activists took the stage, as they had been invited to do, prior to Task Force executive director Rea Carey's State of the Movement speech.

The audience greeted them with cheers, a standing ovation, and chants of "Black lives matter!"

The activists told the audience they had been allotted five minutes to speak. One by one, they took the mic and spoke with alarm, urgency, and anger -- for well over five minutes.

The first two speakers were veteran Ferguson protestors and co-founders of Millenial Activists United.

"Conversations about Ferguson are not conversations about Ferguson if Ferguson is not at the table or on the mic," said Brittany Ferrell. "You cannot erase our experiences by not including us in the conversation. We are the movement."

Alexis Templeton said she was upset to hear people counter "Black lives matter" with "All lives matter."

"'All lives matter cannot and will not be uttered until the affirmation that black lives matter can be said without causing folks to shift in their seats," Templeton said. "So with that being said, f--- your comfort and scream 'Black lives matter,' because our lives depend on it."

black-trans-ferguson-cc15-2.jpgEli Chi, a St. Louis, Mo.-based LGBT activist, excoriated Missouri LGBT organizations for allegedly denying funding for a grassroots trans organization's event in light of trans people's perilous situation.

"It's February 6, 2015, and already six trans women of color have been murdered. What the f--- is that shit?" Chi demanded.

"I shouldn't have to be up here begging for you to invest in me and my life while my brothers and sisters are dying and being murdered," Chi added.

Ashley Yates, another Ferguson veteran and co-founder of Millenial Activists United, invited all trans people of color onstage to speak.

One voiced frustration at feeling unsafe while walking down the street. Another spoke of receiving death threats related to whom they love. The Reverend Yunus Coldman urged fellow clergy to join future protests in their vestments, and reminded lesbians and gays in the audience that they were equally unsafe until recently.

"I will put out a prophetic word: God is not pleased," Coldman said.

The audience was energetically supportive -- cheering, shouting, standing, chanting throughout the testimonies.

After the protestors left the stage, Carey thanked them and referred to them repeatedly in her speech. "We want people to rage against the machine and hold our movement accountable," Carey said. "Thank you for doing so."


Images via Twitter.

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