Congresswomen, Civil Rights Leaders, Black Trans Woman Release Statements and Demand Protections for Black LGBTQ Community
WASHINGTON — In honor of Transgender Awareness Week ending Nov. 17, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and and the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls (CCBWG) released statements calling for the end of gender-based violence and the rising epidemic of discrimination, abuse and violence against Black Transgender and LGBTQ/Same Gender Loving people, especially Black Trans Women.
Congressional partners, including Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) joined NBCJ Executive Director David J. Johns, and Londyn de Richelieu, a member of the NBJC Black Transgender Advisory Council to raise awareness and called on other high-profile, Civil Rights and progressive leaders and organizations to join the fight to protect Black transgender people, women, and girls and to:
Recognize anti-transgender violence and gender-based violence;
Support justice for crimes committed against Black transgender and gender-nonconforming people; and
Act to stop the epidemic of gender-based violence against Black transgender women and gender non-binary Black people.
The group also called on the government to pass the Equality Act (HR 2282) to advance more robust hate crime laws at every level of government and to invest in public funds to support cultural competency of first responders — police officers, ambulatory care and firefighters, among others — to help prevent and better respond to violence against Black transgender and gender non-binary individuals. This follows a Federal Report Card produced by the NBJC that highlights the importance of the Equality Act and related legislation as well as documenting actions (or lack of actions) taken by each branch of federal government to address the unique contributions and needs of Black LGBTQ people.
“We must ensure the equal protection of ALL Black people under the law and that includes Black transgender and non-binary people,” said David J. Johns. “This is especially important because Black transgender people and Black non-binary people are victims of hate crimes at disproportionate rates. If you care about the liberation of Black people you must understand the importance standing up for, and speaking out against, rampant violence, terrorism or policies that allow for both. Period. Let us never forget the words of sister Fanny Lou Hamer who reminds us, none of us are free until all of us are free.”
Note to Press: Interviews with NBJC Executive Director David J. Johns and NBJC Black Trans Advisory Council Member Londyn DeRichelieu available. Contact Kawana Lloyd, 240-472-2860, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke
“Earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released hate crime statistics for 2017 revealing an increase of 17 percent in reported hate crimes from the previous year. One in four transgender people have been assaulted simply because they are transgender. The majority of deadly attacks against transgender people are against women of color. These numbers are both staggering and disturbing. This Transgender Awareness Week, let us reaffirm our commitment to ending the epidemic of gender-based violence impacting Black transgender women and gender non-binary Black people. I stand with my transgender brothers and sisters and look forward to working together to build a world of love, compassion, and respect for all.”
Congresswoman Robin Kelly
“Already this year, 22 beautiful people have been taken from us because of who they were. It’s time to pass the Equality Act and prevent that list from growing any longer. Sadly, one factor contributing to these murders is our nation’s unsafe and out-of-date gun safety laws. Eighteen of the 22 people were killed with guns. Our failure to enact commonsense gun safety laws has made it easier for people with hate-filled hearts to turn their hatred into gun violence and murder.”
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
“I cofounded the Caucus on Black Women and Girls to raise awareness for the challenges all Black women face — straight Black women, transgender Black women, gay and queer Black women — because we know that we are strongest when we stand together and help one another rise. Our transgender sisters are targets right now, and it is more important than ever that we stand with them. Throughout my time in Congress I have been steadfast and deliberate in my efforts to extend civil rights and legal protections for transgender Americans, from introducing the Customer Non-Discrimination Act to extend civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in public accommodations, to my resolution calling on Congress to elevate the voices of sexual abuse victims, including the transgender community. I am a proud cosponsor of the Equality Act and will continue to work with leaders like NBJC to protect all LGBTQ people from discrimination, abuse and violence.”
Londyn de Richelieu, National Black Justice Coalition
Black Transgender Advisory Council
“My existence was drawn so beautifully using pencils passed down from my forefathers, those basic tools that created an outline, but lacked hue until I colored them with my triumphs and tragedies. I am a beautiful work of art outlined with the coal pencils passed down by my ancestors and shaded with our blood, sweat, and tears. The government's insensibility is synonymous to an old pink rubber eraser darkened around the brim from the countless times it has historically wiped out outlines. Priceless works of art that exist and with one swipe of the eraser can vanish into nihility. Who will hold the government accountable for their indifference? I stand proud as a Black woman of transgender experience, a precious work of art, an invaluable asset, who will not be erased. My shapes, forms, circles, lines are like a magic marker to that big pink eraser. Who are you to create a definition to define my existence, in this democracy shouldn’t I have autonomy over how I express myself.
"Now to think the federal government is attempting to erase my identity in the law, while I and those who decide to bravely live in our truth continue to be targeted by hate violence in our own communities. We are then dehumanized by local law enforcement and the media by misgendering us in the wake of fatal tragedies. We can no longer afford to sit idle on this issue in Black America. We must acknowledge that these growing attacks disproportionately impact Black women of transgender experience in their very own streets. This is an epidemic of violence that must be addressed without delay. If Black Lives Matter then that must include Black transgender and non-binary lives as well."
David J. Johns, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition
“If you care about the liberation of Black people you must understand the importance standing up for, and speaking out against, rampant violence, terrorism or policies that allow for both. Period.
“I engage in an alarming number of conversations with Black people who do not understand why they must care about and be engaged in the fight to ensure that transgender and gender nonbinary rights are protected, to take a stand against gender-based violence and to champion intersectional social justice — and why it must happen at every level, ever day.
“When the Black community catches a cold the Black LGBTQ/SGL community catches pneumonia. Legal discrimination compounds everyday forms of racism and oppression Black people feel and impacts all of our families. Regarding law enforcement and social attacks, we should be clear: attempts to police the bodies of Black transgender and gender nonbinary people will also result in additional terrorism inflicted upon all Black people.
“This year alone, we have already seen at least 22 reports of transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. Of the 22 transgender people whose murders have been reported, at least 16 of those individuals were Black (15 Black transgender women and 1 Black transgender man). In the state of Florida alone 5 Black transgender women have been killed this year.
“Each year, in the United States, Black transgender and gender nonbinary people are murdered and we seldom acknowledge it. All Black people are capable of learning how to build better relationships with the members of our community who are most neglected and ignored…
“Too many of us think that the work of ensuring the fundamental human and civil rights of Black transgender and gender nonbinary people is someone else’s work. While the NBJC, the nation’s only civil rights organization intentionally and unapologetically dedicated to the intersections of racial justice and LGBTQ equality, accepts the unique responsibility to lead in this space, we must remember that none of us are free until all of us are free.”