Transgender Awareness Week (13th - 19th November) is being marked by both Queen Mary Students' Union and Queen Mary University of London. Each year between November 13 – 19, people and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility about transgender people and address issues members of the community face. Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), is an annual observance on November 20 that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence that year.
This year, Queen Mary Students' Union wanted to focus their campaign on raising visibility from the Black Transgender community especially. This year, the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests have posed questions that we as allies cannot ignore regarding the wellbeing and safety of Black transgender people, particularly Black transgender women. The government's refusal to reform will hurt Black trans communities the most, for these are communities systematically deprived of healthcare access and discriminated against systematically on account of both race and gender identity. Studies in both the US and the UK have shown that as a population, Black transgender women are the group presented with the most barriers to an already obtuse and harmful system of gatekeeping, and this lack of access to medical care coupled with an extremely high rate of discrimination on the basis of gender and race cannot further be worsened.
This year, we've been celebrating some influential Black figures from the Trans community, which you can find over on our Instagram highlights, or below;
Laverne Cox is an actress and LGBTQ+ Advocate, most well known for her role in Orange is the New Black. For this performance, she became the first openly trans person to be nominated for an Emmy in any acting category. She is also the first openly trans person to appear on the cover of TIME magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine; and to have a waxwork figure in Madame Tussauds!
Indya Moore is a nonbinary model and actor. They began modelling at age 15 and later got into acting, appearing in the critically acclaimed show Pose and voicing the non-binary character Shep on Steven Universe. They are also the first trans person to appear on the cover of the US Elle magazine!
Ash Stevens is an activist from Chicago who works for the nonprofit organisation Transgender Law Center, and also a PhD Candidate at the University of Illinois. He’s an abolitionist and has organized with collectives supporting defense campaigns for criminalized survivors of violence.
Erickha Hart is an Influencer and Sex Educator and a professor at the Columbia School of Social Work. She educates on race, gender, and social justice issues and is very vocal about her experiences as a breast cancer survivor to raise awareness!
Kenny Ethan Jones is a model, activist and writer. His activism focuses on menstruation, body politics, mental health and intimacy, and he is passionate about seeing trans people displayed positively in the media. He also made history by being the first trans man to front a period campaign!
Marsha P. Johnson was a liberation activist and outspoken activist for gay rights. They were one of the first drag queens to go to the Stonewall inn and are well known for being involved in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Later, they co-founded STAR - Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries - an organisation to support gay and trans individuals who had been left homeless.
Kat Blaque is a YouTuber and activist. Her channel is focused on discussing race, gender, and other social justice issues, and some of them are shown as educational tools in classrooms!
Devin Micael Lowe is an actor and the founder of Black Trans Travel Fund, a service that pays for car rides in New York and New Jersey for black trans women so that they can access self-determined safer transport options.
Travis Alabanza is a writer, performer and theatre maker. Their debut show Burgerz toured internationally to sold out shows in Southbank Centre, Sao Paulo Brazil, HAU Berlin & won the Edinburgh Fringe Total Theatre award. Their work surrounding gender, trans identity and race has been noted internationally
Chloe Filani is a poet, performance artist and public speaker. She has performed at Tate Britain and spoken at UAL feminist society, Women of the world festival with Black Lives Matter. She has also performed and curated an art and music event for trans, cis and Queer Black women called Swaying Feels wit Blk Sirens.