TDOR and Black Transgender Women

As we approach Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) yet again, I will join the chorus once again about centering Black transgender women. So, in this post, I want to share some resources that shed light, specifically, on the lives of Black transgender women and why they are so frequently the victims of violence.

In other words, this isn’t about planning TDOR. This is about gaining understanding about the context for why TDOR is the way it is–that is, why it is important to center Black transgender women in a substantive and not performative way.

The trends that lead to the statistics we see on TDOR are not just about transphobia/cissexism and racism and sexism and intersectional identities. These trends are more fundamentally about policies and institutions and economic disparities and sex work and survival economies and intimate partner violence.

These first 5 videos are only about 24 minutes in length collectively and should orient you to some key dynamics. For more depth, I also recommend the three longer treatments listed at the bottom of this page:

You will also find a variety of links to more resources scattered throughout this post.


This evocative music/video (7:07) from Kokumo (starring Angelica Ross) presents a (fictionalized) scenario which demonstrates many of the risks and challenges navigated by Black transgender women in personal relationships.

Note: The original video (available here) included a reference to potential violence as part of the closing scene. The visuals were trimmed from the end of this version of the video, with permission, so that it would be used in a trauma-informed TDOR Unite service (2013).

Black Trans Rights Are Civil Rights — Wisdom from Diamond Stylz (4:27 video from The Root). This video further contextualizes the question of violence against Black transgender women.

Lack of Social Safety Nets — Wisdom from Diamond Stylz (4:03 video from Tretter Transgender Oral History Project, University of Minnesota Library). In these comments, Diamond expands the conversation to demonstrate why typical social safety nets have failed Black transgender women.

Visibility Politics — Wisdom from Diamond Stylz (4:16 video from Tretter Transgender Oral History Project, University of Minnesota Library). In these comments, Diamond explains why “visibility” is not, in and of itself, the answer.

Note: Monica Roberts (may her memory be a revolution), who appears in the next two videos, died suddenly on October 5, 2020 of natural causes. At the time of the publication of this blog post, our community is still reeling. Selected tributes are listed below.

The Plight of Black Trans Women – Wisdom from the leadership of Black Trans Women, Inc (Dee Dee Watters, Monica Roberts, and Diamond Stylz) role modeling what it means to be in relationship with Black trans women around death and violence (3:51 video).

Do ALL Black Lives Matter? – Wisdom from the leadership of Black Trans Women, Inc (Dee Dee Watters, Monica Roberts, and Diamond Stylz) talking specifically about violence against Black transgender women and relationship with Black communities (49:01 video).

More…

Full University of Minnesota oral history interview (1:07:47, Diamond Stylz with Carter Brown, excerpts above)

Diamond Stylz as a guest of the Clayman Institute at Stanford University talking about sex work (1:31:27 video).

This content was compiled by Mx Chris Paige on October 10, 2020. Please be in touch with questions and concerns.

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